According to the Office of National Statistics, a female child born today can expect to live to 90 years old. A huge 1 in 4 girls born in 2045 can expect to reach a century. In the next two decades, we will reach over 74 million people in the UK and 18% of those people will be over 65. The average amount of years lived post-retirement at 65 is now 21.
In short, people are living longer. Demand for extra care options has never been greater and will continue to dramatically increase. Yet, a staggering 97% of people do not want to go into a care home if they become ill or less able to cope at home. It’s no surprise given a study of specialist dementia care homes found the staff to resident ratio averaged one carer to every four residents. Further, only 40% of care homes can guarantee residents won’t have to move out if their condition deteriorates.
Care homes have long been the default for older person care. However, there are signs that the market is shifting towards more modern, independent alternatives. The Live-In Care Hub suggests advance care planning is imperative to avoid the ‘good enough’ decisions and achieve the ‘perfect for me’ scenario.
With this in mind, many people are opting for more live-in care. The multitude of benefits are dedicated personal care, domestic, emotional and physical support as well as independence and freedom of choice. Others cited positives as being able to keep pets and maintaining control over food and drink choices.
Whilst tailored in-house care reaps rewards, it can prove to be significantly more expensive than other options. Those still requiring help with daily needs can turn to assisted living - self-contained flats in a building providing 24/7 support services. Residents maintain their independence but have the option to socialise or receive domestic and personal support. A lesser round-the-clock imprint of this is sheltered housing, whereby help is available from a warden or alarm system. These options are all dependent on finances. Older persons care is still a costly necessity.
Those who prefer to keep relatives closer to home are looking no further than their own back gardens. A growing number of people are building "granny" annexes on their property to accommodate ageing parents or other family members. The Valuation Office Agency estimate there are now nearly 39,000 granny annexes in England and Wales. The expense of private care options, twinned with an expensive property market, are all attributed. The recent freezing of stamp duty increases on annexes, as well as council tax discounts, show that the government is on board too.
Those struggling with finances, or where there is less requirement for specialist housing, are simply downsizing or moving into relatives’ homes. Many families are happy to offset space, or even add to their responsibilities, in order to spend more quality time with their parent or grandparent.
Gone are the days of limited options. Older persons and their families, more than ever, are able to choose what’s right for them and their futures.