Long-term care

Inevitability of ageing and what to consider

As we age, many individuals may require long-term care support or assistance with daily tasks. However, forecasting the extent or type of care required can be challenging. The necessity for long-term care can surface unanticipatedly, as in the aftermath of a heart attack or stroke.

In most instances, though, the demand for long-term care progressively develops. As individuals age and become more fragile or as an ongoing serious illness or health condition worsens, the level of care needed escalates.

While the prospect of an extended lifespan is undoubtedly welcome, it also presents the challenge of funding our future care needs. Who shoulders the responsibility of caring for us in our twilight years? How does one finance this inevitable need for long-term care?

The ageing population, a modern phenomenon
Advancements in medicine coupled with lifestyle and occupational transformations have led to a significant surge in the number of people living well into their old age. In these later years, however, many will find themselves needing help with personal care, either within the confines of their own homes or possibly in residential or nursing care facilities.

Long-term care encompasses a range of needs and settings, including independent living at home, adult day programmes, community resources, assisted living facilities, and skilled nursing facilities.

Financial support for long-term care
Long-term care insurance serves as a financial lifeline if you or a loved one requires care assistance. It can cover the costs associated with helping those who need aid with fundamental daily activities such as getting out of bed, dressing, washing, and using the toilet.

Long-term care can be provided in your own home or in a residential or nursing home. Irrespective of the care setting, financing elderly care is an escalating issue.

Government State Benefits offer some support, but they may not fully cover the cost of long-term care. The level of state aid varies depending on your location, whether that’s England, Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland.

Understanding long-term care plans
Immediate needs annuities provide a guaranteed income for life to help cover care fees in exchange for a single lump-sum payment if you’re currently in need of care.

Pre-funded care plans provide the opportunity to insure against future care needs before they arise. However, these plans are no longer available for purchase.

Exploring financial alternatives

Enhanced Annuities
Your pension can serve as a gateway to an enhanced annuity, also known as an impaired life annuity. This option proves beneficial if you are dealing with a health concern, chronic illness, obesity, or smoking habits. Annuity providers utilise comprehensive medical underwriting to determine a more individualised price. Certain medical conditions, including Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis, or having undergone a significant organ transplant may pave the way for eligibility for an enhanced annuity.

Equity Release Plans
Equity release plans present another viable financial alternative. These schemes enable you to secure a cash lump sum as a loan against your home. They may prove particularly useful if you’re strategising to fund a care plan presently or in the foreseeable future.

Planning ahead with Savings and Investments

Savings and Investments for Future Care
Savings and investments offer another option for forward planning, ensuring your assets are ready to cater to your future care needs. If you are on the cusp of retirement or have already retired, it’s prudent to seek professional financial advice. This ensures your affairs are in order, such as arranging your Will or assigning a power of attorney.

It’s equally crucial to ensure your savings, investments, and other assets are organised should you, your spouse, or your registered civil partner require long-term care in the future.

Factors to consider in planning for future care
When outlining your future care needs, consider these factors:

Who in your family is most likely to need long-term care, and for how long?
Do you need a care plan now?
Should you be planning ahead for yourself or a loved one?
Do you have sufficient funds to pay for long-term care?
How long might you need to finance a care plan?
Is home care or a nursing home required?
What kinds of assistance would be needed, such as help with dressing, using the toilet, feeding, or mobility?
Does your home require additional features, like a stair lift, an adjustable bath, a bath chair, or home help?

Emotional decisions and long-term care
Increased life expectancy places a heavier burden on the quality of care that state support can provide. Many people overlook the matter of care entirely, leaving their families to make long-term—often costly—decisions during emotional times.

However, when someone needs long-term care, it doesn’t necessarily mean their life expectancy diminishes. The required care could span 15 years, 20 years or more, incurring substantial financial costs.

Adopting healthy lifestyle choices to mitigate long-term care needs
Healthy habits can curtail the risk of numerous diseases and may assist in delaying or even averting the need for long-term care. Consuming a balanced diet, partaking in regular physical activity, abstaining from smoking, and limiting alcohol intake can all contribute to maintaining your health. An active social life, a safe home environment, and consistent healthcare are integral to preserving your well-being.