Planning ahead is crucial in this sensitive area
Just like everything else, the costs of care for the elderly increases over time, which means the need for planning for this possible future financial burden has become more important.
Currently, the average annual fees for a private nursing home in England is £25,552 and for a residential home £18,420, which can put quite an extra financial burden on those needing care, or in many cases the families of those needing care.
Even opting for community home care doesn’t come cheap. Based on 7.25 hours home care a week, the average cost is currently £7,228 a year. (source: PSSRU unit costs of Health & Social Care 2003)
Those with their own property or with other assets will often not qualify for any, or only limited, assistance from their local authority with the cost of non-essential nursing or other care.
In England and Northern Ireland the value of assets that would exclude you from financial assistance is only £21,000.
With about 43 per cent of those aged over 65, that’s about 4 million people (source: Age Concern) having a longstanding illness that restricts their daily activities, the possibility of needing to find funding for long term care is high for this age group and their families.
Planning in advance is the best way to deal with this future potential financial burden. Unfortunately, many leave planning until the last moment, which often results in the sale of the family home to fund the care home fees.
Not only does this option often bring emotional upset, but it also denies the elderly person of the choice about how, when and where they would want to be cared for. However, it may be possible to consider the use of a property trust attached to a will to provide some level of protection from selling the home.
The use of a long-term care insurance plan may help change the situation dramatically.
By using either a lump-sum investment or a regular premium plan, funds can be provided in the future to cover, or at least help significantly towards, the cost of care.
Importantly, planning in this way should provide the freedom to be able to make decisions about the type of care you want to receive, and where you want to receive it, without the worry and rush of sorting out immediate care insurance.
Many elderly people would at least like to start receiving care in their own homes, where they feel secure and surrounded by the familiarity of every day life.
Where this is appropriate from a medical point of view, a long-term care plan should give you the flexibility to make this sort of decision.
Although it may seem a morbid sort of thing to talk about while you are still hale and hearty, taking advice now about long-term care is likely to save you and your family possible heartache and worry later on. For a free guide to long-term care.