Why is it in this day and age that planning for care is still not happening? The majority of people know that we’re living longer but that doesn’t necessarily mean that those additional years are healthy years.
Do people just put their head in sand and ignore the inevitable? I think it’s more to do with fear and shame. You get to the point when you know that Mum or Dad are not quite as ‘with it’ as they used to be, they are getting forgetful and do the odd silly thing. Then suddenly they deteriorate and you are faced with the decision of what to do about long term care for them.
I think Care is like so many important things that families don’t discuss: let’s not talk about money, I don’t want to talk about death and what I want to happen to my estate. I think talking about Care makes us feel uncomfortable. In an ideal world Mum and Dad would stay in their own home or would live with us until their dying day. It’s how it used to be. But the world is a very different place, we live much busier lives, women have full time jobs, families often don’t live in the same area of the country let alone the same town.
I think we don’t discuss it before it is needed because we feel guilty. If we talked about it, it would be admitting that there may come a time when we cannot cope. We have to admit that if that happened we have to hand over the Care of our parents into the hands of somebody else! I think that this together with the bad press, the media highlighting neglect of the elderly in the minority of care homes, moving a loved one into a Care home is done on an almost ‘only when needed’ decision rather than it being a planned choice.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. In my line of work I occasionally see individuals that make the decision to go into a Care Home not because they have to but because they want to. Recently one gentleman had a two-week break in a care facility as a test run, after which he decided that it was the place you would like to spend the remainder of his life. He is a relatively fit, active and healthy 92-year-old. There is no physical or mental reason why he needs to go into residential care however for him the decision was about quality of his remaining years. The home offers him his own apartment with bedroom, living space and kitchen, everything he needs for day-to-day living. He has chosen this facility because they will look after him, they provide his meals, do his laundry and he has a social life. Should his health fail they will also be able to provide him with nursing.
Another lady in her 90s also decided to move into residential care. She is fit and mobile, quite capable of looking after herself, but realised that she is most likely going to become more frail during the remaining years of her life and preferred to make the move herself while she could. She still has the same freedoms but has others to provide food etc. and she doesn’t have to do the washing up!
I know that the majority of care homes would welcome visitors, they would love to be able to show people what they offer for those in need of extra Care. Wouldn’t it be great if your Mum or Dad, while still mentally and physically fit and healthy, visited a few places and decided where they would like to go if the need arose later in their life. How much easier would you feel if instead of hoping you were making the best decision, you were actually following their wishes? Let’s get rid of guilt and shame and the idea that a Care Home is second-best.
If this became the norm it would be easier to start to plan financially how the potential cost of the Care could be covered. Currently because it is often a last minute, at the point of need, almost panicked decision, families seem to fund the cost of care from pensions and topping up through savings. Whilst on a short-term basis this works, over the longer term drawing down on cash deposits, which offer very low interest, is a recipe for running out of money!
A good solution is to use part of the savings pot to purchase an Immediate Care Annuity. This type of plan guarantees to pay a known income, which can increase annually, for the rest of your loved ones life. This gives you peace of mind that they can remain in the Care facility that you have chosen because the money won’t run out. It also means that the remainder of their estate will be available to those that they intended it for their children, grandchildren and/or charities.
Facing up and discussing the Care issue can only be a win, win situation. As a family you can make the transition from own home to Care Home an easier decision. Your loved one will be going somewhere they chose, you know you are doing the best for them. The matter of paying for the Care can be considered before-hand and an appropriate pot of money saved for this purpose. The best way of saving for this can be discussed with a Long Term Care specialist and the whole process will be easier and more relaxed for everyone involved.
Article written by Zanne St John Marchmont, Long Term Care Specialist at Savvy Financial Planning. For more information or to discuss your individual circumstances visit savvyfp.co.uk or call 0845 680 8910.