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What’s your plan for old age?

what's your plan for old age mhealth telehealth telecare assisted livingApart from the referendum in Scotland there has actually been some other news this week, a flurry of stories around a theme that’s becoming all-consuming for me. Put simply, it’s about the trend that local authorities in England in particular are spending less on care for the elderly.

In major news channels this week I’ve seen:

  • The BBC tell the story of a 95-year old disabled man who cannot fully care for himself who was told he was no longer eligible for care.
  • The Telegraph quote statistics that social care budgets had fallen by 8% in the last two years, despite rising demand.
  • The Guardian report that for the 850,000 dementia sufferers in the UK, two-thirds of the cost of care was borne by the individuals.

How can this be?

At first sight these stories don’t make sense do they? We all know the rising tide of demographic demand:

So how can budgets be cut at a time like this? Well I believe that it’s precisely because of those factors that we’re seeing cuts. Our governments globally are frightened by the staggering uplift in demand and feel there is a practical limit on taxing the working population further. So what we have instead is a practical example of ‘nudging’ as government policy, as we can see consistently in those news reports – by choking off the budgets you motivate people to try something else.

Now I’m not trying to make a political point here, as I believe all governments whatever their leanings have the same issue. I’m just reading the signs and they seem to be quite clear – if you want proper care in older age you better be prepared to pay for it.

So just how do we prepare?

Speaking personally, I want to live out my retirement years in dignity and independence. I imagine you do too. So here’s what I’m thinking:

  1. I’m going to plan my next house move, even though I feel no pressure to move. I’m going to locate the type of housing I’d be happy to live in for my later years, that will be easy to live in and maintain, and near essential services. I’ll make sure that I move there while I still have the energy to do so.
  2. I’m researching all of the technology options that can help me – not just the obvious panic and fall alarms but things like gas and flood detectors, room automation such as door and curtain closers, anything that will make life easier. It’s my job after all.
  3. I’m also writing a ‘living will’ that will set out my wishes for how I would wish to live out my later years, covering aspects such as my preference to stay in my own home and what to do in the event of loss of capability. I think this is even more important than the will to cover our posthumous affairs.
  4. I know this is all going to cost money, so I’m building my financial reserves now, even though there’s lots of other things I could spend my money on.

Don’t ‘wait for the state’

Now this may all seem a little morbid to you, but I make no apology for that. I’m confronting my mortality and planning for it, and in doing so I believe I approach it with confidence and a much better chance of success. Obviously other parties could help me make this journey easier – for example insurers could step up with investment plans that provide cover for home adaptation and care support. Domiciliary care agencies could provide hybrid support packages that include personal as well as technology-based support. But I’m not waiting for them, nor am I waiting for the government to plan my future.

How are you going to plan your future? I’d love to hear your thoughts, or you can always contact me.

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