Only a small fraction of us are planning for care costs in later life, according to our new research. How concerned should we be?
As I plan my day to day spending, I don’t think much further than the next holiday. Even home improvements that are a year away seem too far in the future to save for.
So it doesn’t altogether surprise me that only one in ten adults aged 55 years or over say they have put aside money to pay for any care needs as they get older, according to our new research.
Like me, more than half of those over-55s say they are prioritising other things they want or need to do right now, over planning for potential care needs.
And this is backed up by behavioural research: even if we get good information and advice, we don’t want to think about ageing and needing care.
So how can the government help people like me – the non-planners? Well, rather than encouraging me to plan, a new policy report by Which? says it can improve the system to help me live at home for as long as possible in retirement.
When asked to think about what changes they may make if their health and mobility did deteriorate, nine in ten people aged 55 and over said they would be willing to make adaptations to their homes to aid mobility and a similar percentage said they would be willing to use mobility aids outside the home.
This resonates with me. My parents have installed a number of aids and adaptations to help them enjoy their home: the bath lift that allows them a well-earned soak, the riser-recliner chair that looks like a very superior addition to their furniture rather than something you’d find in a hospital, the very smart trolley that also serves as a walking aid.
Such equipment – more acceptable when it looks desirable – could cut falls needing medical treatment by a quarter, and save the NHS and social care services £500m each year, the Centre for Ageing Better estimates.
The key to planning is also good information, but our research tells us that less than half of people know where to look for information about care. This is where Which? Later Life Care can help, which provides information on all aspects of choosing care, including financing and housing options.
The GP is trusted to give good advice and support, along with friends and family, but is the already packed 10-minute GP consultation really the best place to get care information?
What’s needed to make sure people get the advice they need from the places – like the GP surgery – they turn to?
Would you plan for your care? Is it on your list of things to save for? And – as the government works towards an Autumn social care green paper – what do you think is needed to support older people in the best way we can, given that many people use the care system for the first time at a time of crisis?
Populus, on behalf of Which?, surveyed 2104 UK adults online between 11-12 June 2018. The data were weighted to be demographically representative of the population.