Facing up to future long-term care costs for your parents

Category: News & United Kingdom

Medical advances, improved healthcare, and health awareness mean that we are living for longer than previous generations.

Those medical advances also mean that many people are now able to live comfortable and fulfilling lives with conditions that may have previously been terminal.

Despite this positive outlook it’s important to be aware that living a longer life can bring with it certain challenges that you need to address.

For one thing, with Office for National Statistics data confirming that your retirement could easily last for more than 20 years, you need to take steps to ensure you don’t run out of money.

But an additional issue that you may need to consider concerns your parents. Increased longevity and advances in medical technology may well result in them living long and happy lives, but facing issues around their reduced mobility and failing health.

Even if your parents are currently in good health, it can do no harm to start looking ahead to a time when they may become less mobile and more dependent on outside help.

Having an outline of plans in plan for this eventuality can provide valuable peace-of-mind for both you, and them.

Your first priority is to broach the subject of their future plans

Many people have a natural reticence around talking about money and long-term health issues.

It’s understandable if this reticence is accentuated when it comes to communicating about such issues with other family members, such as your parents.

One big factor could be that both you, and they, may see it as marking a key moment of transition from when they feel responsible for you – even if you are in your 40s or 50s – to you becoming increasingly responsible for them.

Despite the potential awkwardness, it’s a nettle that you need to grasp.

Furthermore, given the complexity of some of the issues and suggestions raised in this article, the sooner you can start putting plans together, the better chance you have of successful outcomes.

One suggestion that we would make is to position any discussion you may instigate as wanting to ensure you’re doing what is best for them – and that you see planning ahead as being crucial when it comes to ensuring they are as comfortable as possible in old age and get the kind of care they want.

You could well find that they are relieved to talk about it as it’s been gnawing away at them for ages. They’ve been worried but haven’t wanted to worry you.

Your whole family should be involved in the planning process

Unless you are an only child, these are not discussions to have with your parents on your own.

Even if you feel obliged to take the lead, it’s important to keep siblings aware and engaged, as it’s likely you will expect them to be involved when it comes to your parents’ long-term future.

This could be particularly important both from a geographic and financial perspective.

For example, if you are living some distance away – maybe even the other side of the world if you are planning to move or return to Australia at some stage – then other relatives living closer may have to bear more of the burden when it comes to actual care.

In return you may be able to make a bigger financial commitment towards things such as care costs and potential alterations to their property, if your parents have limited assets.

Assessing your parents’ financial situation

Clearly, any type of care provision for your parents will come with a cost.

You may well have seen scary headline figures, such as that reported in the Guardian in October 2023, that stated that the average annual care home cost was now £56,000.

However, it’s important to realise that only a small minority of elderly and infirm people end up requiring that level of residential care. For example, even if some element of care is required, this can often be fulfilled with a domiciliary package that should not only be cheaper, but may also allow your parent, or parents, to stay living in their own home.

Regardless of whatever option is necessary, planning ahead – both in terms of potential cost and the financial resources available – is a prudent step for you to take.

It’s also a good opportunity to ensure your parents finances are in good order, both in terms of being well-organised, but also to ensure they are getting all the income they should be through the State Pension and any other pension arrangements and investments they may have.

It’s important to respect their care wishes

Throughout your planning and conversations, it’s important to make sure you respect your parents’ wishes as far as possible.

Ensuring you start having conversations about their plans at an early stage can help facilitate this as you may be able to take the necessary steps to fulfil what they want rather than reach the stage of having no options.

For example, if they are used to living an active lifestyle, they are likely to want to live independently for as long as possible.

Such an understandable desire may be made easier with some simple modifications to their existing property or downsizing to a smaller home that may be more manageable and affordable.

Get in touch

If you would like advice with regard to long-term care and other financial arrangements for your parents, please get in touch with us.

Please note

The value of your investments can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

This article is for information only. Please do not solely rely on anything you have read in this article and ensure that you conduct your own research to ensure any actions you may take are suitable for your circumstances. All contents are based on our understanding of HMRC legislation, which is subject to change.