In many other countries, the care of an older family member is accepted as the norm and no self-respecting son or daughter would dream of putting their aged parent into a nursing or care home.
It is more difficult here with so many having to work for longer to support ourselves let alone other generations but according a Government spokesman, we shall have to face a cultural change.
Families will increasingly have to take older relatives into their own homes, the minister in charge of care of the elderly said recently. In future families are likely to have to live together in large houses so younger members can care for their grandparents when the state cannot.
The prophecy comes as taxpayer funding to provide care for the elderly continues to fall.
Older people living by themselves used to be able to count on their council to provide help with tasks such as washing, doing the shopping or housework and cooking meals. But councils have been cutting back on funding, with only the most seriously ill or disabled now qualifying for free care.
Councils also usually refuse to help those with savings or assets worth more than £23,500 – meaning homeowners often have to sell their houses to pay for their own bills.
A place in a care home currently costs on average between £554 and £625 a week, and £591 to £662 for a person with dementia. And in the summer, David Cameron delayed a £72,000 cap on care home costs, which was meant to come into effect next year but was put back to 2020.
The community and social care minister, Alistair Burt MP, said that it was inevitable that ‘people are going to have to start paying for social care a bit earlier than they do now’.
He suggested that people could use their new rights to spend their pension pots as they choose to pay for insurance against future care home bill, adding: ‘We are not going to turn overnight into a society where everyone can live in large housing units.
But all sorts of things suggest that more people will probably have a mum or dad living with them at some stage in the future – and that housing changes will flow from that.’
His comments came after Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told the Conservative Party conference there will not be enough care home places to cope with the ageing population.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told the Conservative Party conference there will not be enough care home places to cope with the ageing population
Calling for an approach like those seen in other cultures, especially in the Far East, Mr. Hunt said: ‘We’ve got to ask whether we need to make it easier for people to have their elderly parents living with them. At the moment only 16 per cent of older people live with their children, it’s 39 per cent in Italy, it’s 65 per cent in Japan, so other countries do these things differently.’
The Coalition began encouraging extended families to live together in 2013, when they announced a 50 per cent council tax cut for homes where relatives live in annexes.
The move led to a boom in home conversions, with the number of homes with a ‘granny flat’ rising by more than a third in just two years.
Will you find yourself in the situation or have you made provision for your own care in later life? Let us know your thoughts. Ed.