Whether you’re navigating the social care system with elderly parents or thinking ahead for yourself, the headlines can make bleak reading: NHS in crisis, retirement housing shortage, funding gap in adult social care. We’re living longer and, as a result, more people are spending more time with long-term conditions, frailty, dementia and social care needs.
Yet the numbers receiving social care support has fallen and added to this, there’s a real lack of housing suitable for the needs of old age. No surprise then that, new research shows, nearly three in 10 adults in the UK have needed to care for elderly relatives at some point.
Caring for an elderly relative costs an average £5,545 in either lost earnings or money spent on funding care, according to Fidelity’s latest report. It says our ageing population has lead to a growing number of us becoming ‘sandwich carers’ – those who are looking after their school age children as well as their elderly parents.
But, worryingly, putting financial plans in place to cover the cost of long-term care isn’t on the agenda for many. Around 25% of the population haven’t thought about how they will fund long-term care, 24% believe they will rely on state provision, and 23% simply don’t know.
‘Health, wealth and happiness has long been the prescribed recipe for a good life. But as we know all too well, if just one of those components is missing the knock-on effect can be devastating,’ says Emma-Lou Montgomery, associate director for personal investing at Fidelity International.
Now all eyes are on the Government’s plans for a long-awaited overhaul on care and support for older people and the delayed green paper on social care. But there’s no cure-all; it’s important to consider your own (or your loved ones) options in old age, and make plans.
‘Start early and the number of options available to fund the cost of care will be greater,’ says Catriona Lumiste, SOLLA-accredited later life adviser.
For more information about the costs of care and guidance on how to fund it:
– Check out the BBC website’s care costs calculator. Tap in your postcode to see how much residential care and in-home care will cost wherever you live in the UK.
– To find out whether your relative qualifies for local authority funding, ask the local social services department for a care needs and financial assessment.
*Survey: Fidelity International surveyed 2,016 people in the UK. Research was carried oUt by Opinium Research in April 2019.