Britons are in denial about the challenges of later-life care.
As the country continues to feel the effects of the post-recession austerity measures, and the nation’s infrastructure creaks under the strain of an ever-growing, and ever-ageing, population, it’s becoming increasingly important for individuals to ensure that they don’t have to rely on the state for financial support.
And nowhere is this going to be more acutely felt than in the area of long-term care funding. Yet, despite the frequent newspaper headlines forewarning that Britain is facing a life-expectancy time bomb, research has revealed that many of us either remain oblivious to – or are in denial about – the financial and emotional problems that old age can bring.
As a nation, we’re taking a gamble as we get older. Too many people are putting off thinking about their care options. According to research commissioned by Anchor, the retirement care provider, 76% of people have not discussed their retirement options with the person they trust most to make a decision for them¹.
Tony Müdd, divisional director at St. James’s Place, suggests that fear is the main driver for this collective ‘head in the sand’ mentality; the fear of addressing the subject with family members, of the perceived cost of care provision, or of losing control of our independence.
And we remain so obsessed with home ownership and the value of bricks and mortar that it’s perhaps no surprise that nearly a quarter of us (23%) cite losing our homes as a major concern – 1% more than those anxious about the impact and emotional strain on family and loved ones1.
“People worry that talking about a situation makes it immediate and ‘real’, but the emotional benefits of talking far outweigh the alternatives,” observes Müdd. “It’s much easier to talk about life-changing decisions when you’re not faced with an immediate crisis – and talking earlier means you are more likely to get what you want in the long run.”
As we slowly wake up to the reality that the populace is growing increasingly grey, so the range of care provision is becoming more plentiful to meet differing levels of need. It’s worth exploring the full range of options, from retirement villages, leasehold or sheltered housing – where you can live independently but have the reassurance of care support close to hand – through to the more traditional ‘at home’ or residential nursing care.
Older age should be a time for celebration and enjoying the fruits of your labour, in a way that you want and that best suits your needs. So perhaps it’s time to think about it, talk about it and plan for it now.
1 Grey Matters, www.anchor.org.uk, June 2015