Looking after number one: getting the care you want in later life

Most people put off thinking about what will happen if they need care in later life. However, if you want to make sure that you will get the care and support that you want when you need it, you will need to plan ahead.

A majority (94%) of over-70s want to take care of their own needs for as long as possible, which is hardly surprising.  However, when they can no longer care for themselves effectively, older people are more inclined to run to professionals for help, rather than their relatives.

That’s good news for the children and grandchildren of older people, many of whom are afraid that they do not have the resources available to provide the level of care their parents or grandparents will need in later life.

The most common worries facing relatives are:

  • Time restraints (56%)
  • Living too far away (45%)
  • Insufficient money (51%)

(All statistics from Anchor)

We recognise that caring for older relatives may be a perfectly natural solution for you and your family, and we urge you to contact us if that is the case, as taking responsibility for another person can have an impact on the household and personal finances, which you may need to factor into your plans.

How to plan for your future care needs

There are three steps to consider when planning your later life care:

2. Knowing your own mind

Think about what you want from retirement and how care will factor into that. You will need to account for the things that you cannot plan here:

  • Life expectancy: None of us know how long we will live and estimates and averages can only take you so far toward an accurate prediction. The truth is that there’s no way to know exactly how long you will live. Therefore, you will need to make sure that you can afford care for a longer amount of time if it is necessary.
  • Health: While it is likely that you will need care at some point during later life, it can be difficult to know when you will begin to need it. For some, it may only be in the last few years of life, whereas others may find themselves battling ill health for a majority of their retired life.

However, while these factors may be out of your control, there are some things you can guarantee, such as the type of care you receive, and whether you continue to live at home, or move into purpose-built accommodation.

It is important to determine what you want to happen when you need care in later life and ensure that plans are put in place to help make sure you get it.

2. Involving family members

Sadly, there may come a time when you cannot advocate for yourself, whether that is through physical or mental impairment. At such a time, you will need to know that someone you trust will be able to make the best decisions about your care, health and finances, on your behalf.

You will need to make their authority official, and you can do so by appointing Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). There are two types of LPA, those who make decisions about your health and care, and those who will take control of your finances when necessary.

To make sure that the people you have appointed LPA will be able to make the best decisions for you, based on your wishes, you will need to let them know what your hopes are.

This should include talking in depth about the care and options you think will be best for you, and it is wise to make written notes or instructions for the person with LPA to follow. Of course, it may not always be realistic for your wishes to be followed exactly, but you need to make sure that you have given the authority to make those choices to someone who will take the course of action with your best interests at heart.

3. Make financial preparations

Care is not something that runs cheap. In fact, research from UK Care Guide has shown that the average cost of care has risen to more than £1,000 per week. Considering how long you may need to rely on care for, paying for it is likely to use a large chunk of your retirement income or savings.

That is where financial planning and advice can be invaluable. As independent financial advisers, we can help you to build a strategy which will keep your finances stable throughout all stages of life. Whether that’s:

  • The short term, where you are planning your retirement and continuing to make contributions to your pensions.
  • The medium term, such as determining how long you need to wait before leaving work
  • Long-term planning including later life care, estate planning and putting safeguards in place to prepare for the unexpected.

What next?

Having a plan in place and ensuring that your loved ones know what will happen and are prepared to act accordingly might seem like a lot to take in, and even more to organise, but that’s where help from your financial adviser will help to streamline things.

Once those pieces are in place, it is time to tie up any loose ends and make sure that your affairs are organised for the rest of your life, however long that may be.

That means writing a will and keeping it updated so that it consistently reflects your wishes. Once again, including your financial adviser in the will-writing process can add value and will help to give you a fresh perspective on the more emotional aspects it involves.

To talk to us about any area of later life planning, including preparing to access care, please contact us on 02380 633636, or click here to request a call back.