The cost of care is something which the UK government seems to be considering but has no plan for at the moment. Care can be free for some people but it will very much depend on what savings they have. If they own their home, they may have to sell it to pay for their care and they also may have to use savings for this as well. If they do not have savings or a home then they may get financial help for their care but this could mean that they will not be able to choose the home that they go into or the type of care that they get. Some people get cared for by their family to save money. However, with a lack of state funding and people living longer and putting more demand on public services, it is hard to know where the money might come form in the future. Depending on which party is in parliament it could make a significant difference as to how things pan out. It can therefore be a concern as you may wonder what might happen if you need care.
Should I prepare?
It is probably wise to be prepared just in case. Obviously, we will not know if we need care in old age or whether our spouse might need it. It could be that we will be healthy enough not to need it or that we do not live that long. However, most people need some help as they get older. This might not be with medical care always, but could be help with decorating, gardening and cleaning which they may have to pay for if friends and family cannot help them with it. It may get to the stage where help is needed with shopping and cooking as well and eventually with getting dressed, washing and things like this. As mobility and strength reduces, as it often does in old age, then these tasks will become more difficult. It can be hard to get financial help with household chores even if you are on a low income so it could be wise to prepare for this even if you feel that you will get the help that you need with personal care.
How Should I prepare?
Preparing for something like this can be difficult. Rather like paying into a pension, it can seem like it is a long way away when you are young and you may feel that you need the money now rather than worrying about having it for later. It can be difficult to juggle your responsibilities when young, perhaps with paying a mortgage and bringing up a family and preparing for the future at the same time. You may also feel that if you do save money towards old age or even buy a home then you will be punished when you are older as you will not get any help because you will be seen as being able to afford it yourself, it can be quite a quandary as you may feel it is unfair if you work hard to save money and then get no help but others spend their money and then get help. However, if you pay yourself, then you get to choose which home you go in or what carers you use whereas if you have funding you may have less choice. You may also worry that there may just not be free care available by the time you need it and that your family may have to care for you and this could be something that you are not keen on happening. You may prefer to be cared for by a professional or by someone that you are not so close to. It can be hard for families to provide care, particularly with personal things. Helping with cleaning, shopping and gardening can be a lot easier than helping with bathing, dressing and toileting. It may also be the case that medical care is needed and it may not be possible for this to be done by family members.
It can be quite a dilemma knowing whether to put money aside or not. It is impossible to know whether we will need care and how much it might cost. Whether we get help or have to pay will depend on the government policy at the time and so there is no guarantee about what might happen. It is possible to take out an annuity which will help to pay for your care home fees. These tend to give a fixed income when you need it that can be paid directly to the care home, however if their fees go up they may need extra money. This can protect those that have savings to pay for care but when they run out the state takes over the cost of care and will often move then to a cheaper care home. There are also long-term care plans that you can take out which can be bought with a lump sum of money when you need it.