Whether we are carers or ‘cared for’, we are likely to be involved in caring in the future. Of course the pandemic has highlighted the under-funding of residential care homes and the lack of support given to many home carers, most of whom are not professional but doing the job out of love.
Yesterday, I and around 100 others attended a webinar organised by Legal & General looking at the issues of later life care.
The session was hosted by John Power of Legal & General Retirement Living Solutions
Andrew Parfery, CEO and co-founder of Care Sourcer,
Tish Hanifan, Founder and Joint Chair of the Society of Later Life Advisers (SOLLA)
and Phil Bayliss, CEO of Later Living, Legal & General
Care touches everyone
Mention was made of the many younger people also “in care” and getting care in the community. But it focused on those in later life for whom care will be needed through to death, this of course includes palliative care but is most widely needed by those who lose physical and cognitive independence as they grow older.
Many of us have been shielding elderly people from the current pandemic. Many of those shielded would otherwise be independent and this is an extension of later life care. Almost everyone has been made aware of the vulnerability of the old by Coronavirus, if only by mortality statistics.
The key message coming from this meeting is that while caring might in the past have been considered a specialist area, it is no longer. This goes not just for our general responsibilities to the old, but very specifically , to those advising people in retirement. Whether you are considering care for yourself or for those you love, care and the cost of providing it, are part of later life financial planning.
To demonstrate this, Legal & General shared important data which I will reproduce from screenshots here.
The media headlines are on residential care and its cost (especially to self funders)
This is critically important to our understanding of the financial burden of care as that £139bn figure is an opportunity cost to those in retirement. Largely unpaid, our home carers are effectively sacrificing salary for love. They may also be sacrificing future pension prospects by being out of workplace pensions.
Not only are people needing care for longer, but carers are caring for longer. This is not a steady state situation, it is an escalating problem – at least in terms of the financial implications. This is because we are not just living longer
This is why we have to have a financial plan that not only takes into account the financial cost of residential care but the cost of prolonged social care, whether that cost is directly falling on us (as future carers) or on our parents’ wealth and our future estate.
And when we talk “estate” we are talking typically of housing. We need urgently to address the housing needs of those in later life and ask whether the homes they currently live in, however emotionally attached we are to them are fit for purpose.
So we have many issues to face, both personally and – if we are advising others- professionally.
We can all play a role
The idea that later life planning is separate from retirement planning is daft. COVID-19 has let the elephant out of the care-home and let it trumpet some uncomfortable messages about the lack of funding in the care sector and the miserable conditions many older people have to endure because of lack of planning.
The message is clear, care touches everyone and we must make the planning either to care or to be cared a priority item in our financial planning both in later life and at the point when we approach retirement.
I will be focusing much of the resource that AgeWage brings , to dealing with these uncomfortable and previously under-recognized issues.
Everyone needs advice about these things but most people simply don’t get it.