We are all living longer. The old saying of 'three score years and ten ' i.e. 70 is no longer true for life expectancy.it is common to live into the 80s and 90s. You may need to think how you would cope financially if you need help in looking after yourself or your partner, in years to come. With healthier living and new medical technology which replaces those worn out parts, there are some who predict that those born now could expect to live for 90 years, and that within a decade, a life span of 100 is possible.
It used to be simple. You worked for 45 to 50 years, retired at 65 and expected to have five years in retirement. If you became too ill to look after yourself, then your children and grandchildren, or the state, would take care of that. With smaller families, and the cost of living meaning both partners need to work, care from the family is less likely.
What can you expect from the State?
You have paid taxes for years, so you expect the state to look after you. The problem is that the health service, no longer wants to use valuable bed space for the elderly who are not ill, but need care. The ageing population puts a huge burden on local authorities. who have often closed and sold care homes, cottage hospitals, hospices and the like; preferring to pay private care and nursing homes to look after the elderly.
What the government requires local authorities to do, now greatly exceeds what the central government will pay for. So local authorities have to use their limited resources to pay for care for those who cannot afford it. You may think that as a normal working or retired person, you are not rich, so would be supported. Sadly, the limits are very low.
Effectively, if you own your own home and/or have some savings, you will be expected to pay for your own care in residential care homes. Local authorities now have systems in place to forcibly sell your home from under you, if you are taken into care, to pay for the care costs. These hide under the less threatening name of Local Authority equity release schemes.
If the state pays for your care, you may be lucky enough to get into a good home. But, as local authorities are cost conscious, you may be in one of the residential care homes that are below your expectations. The best ones tend to have only or mostly, private residents.
With state support, there is increasingly a chance that care, unless you are really ill, will be undertaken at home. The intention is good, as care at home makes people happier and better. The reality is that every budget sees cuts in services to the elderly. What starts off as several hours a day care gets reduced to a few minutes a day, or some days only, or just delivered meals. They may give you a call button to get urgent help..
Another problem with relying on the state is that you get no choice. Residential care homes are often too far away for friends and relatives to visit. A village dweller may be forced to live in a city centre, or vice versa. You get no say in whether you go into a home or get care at home.
The good news is that most people live longer and healthier lives than their parents. Many people live on in almost perfect health until they die. Others may need years of care in their final years.
Unfortunately, increased longevity is not always matched by increased good health in the later years and there is a probability that some form of long-term care will be needed. It may be hard to imagine today, but in your later years, you may need someone to help you live your daily life. Unpalatable thought though it is, an estimated one in four will require long-term care before we die
What are the costs of long term care?
The really bad news is that the costs of care are high and climbing. The average annual fee for residential care homes is £18,420. Where constant medical care is needed, a nursing home is needed and makes the average cost of £25,552 a year. Fees in recent years have been well exceeding inflation.
Few people consider the eventuality of needing a care home and fewer still plan for it.
Our best advice is to get healthy now. Cut out cigarettes and fatty foods. Cut down on booze, amount of food, salt and all those other things that are bad for you. Get some exercise, get an outdoor hobby, and stay fit.
If you are seeking a financial solution, we provide information on the alternatives.
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For online quotes and costs on UK long term care plans, use our Get A Quote section, or for enquiries about long term care plans, complete our enquiry form.