Home » Dementia » Why you need to understand the complex landscape of later life care

Dr Samantha Roberts

Managing Director, Health & Care Division,
Legal & General

Later life care can be both daunting to navigate and costly. But don’t put things off. It’s wise to both plan ahead and take some expert advice.

None of us want to think about the care we or our loved ones might need in later life. But it’s wise to consider all options now and how you might fund it, says Dr Samantha Roberts, Managing Director, Health & Care Division, Legal & General.

“It’s well-known that society is living longer,” she says. “In fact, the number of over 85s will double by 2040. But what’s less well-known is that we are living in relatively poor-quality health for longer, too, which means more formal care services will be required in the years ahead.”

The trouble is, the need for these services usually arrives at a time of crisis in our lives — for example, when an elderly relative has a fall or when their function suddenly declines. At that point, it can be daunting to discover just how disconnected later life care can be from the services we’re more familiar with, such as the NHS.

“There are two big differences between the NHS and later life care,” says Dr Roberts. “The first is that the NHS is free at the point of delivery. Care, however, is means tested, so if a person’s assets are valued below a certain level, currently £23,250 in England (although that’s under review), then their local authority will contribute towards the cost of care. If their assets are above that level, then they’ll be required to pay the costs themselves.

The number of over 85s will double by 2040. But what’s less well-known is that we are living in relatively poor-quality health for longer.

Getting expert financial advice

The second difference is that, in the NHS, your GP is there to help you navigate around the system. “But that doesn’t happen with care,” says Dr Roberts. “There’s often a lot of legwork you’ll need to do. For instance, does the person needs home care, home adaptations, residential care or specialist nursing care tailored for people living with dementia? If it’s residential, then where? How will it be paid for? You’ll often need to create the pathway yourself.”

Dr Roberts advises that whilst there are many websites available with lots of useful information, actually that in itself can be overwhelming for those trying to navigate the later life care landscape.

That’s where financial advice comes in. A financial adviser can help you understand the types of benefits available, and help you understand your options. “Whether it’s non-regulated guidance through helplines, regulated advice through expert financial advisers, or a bit of both as you go through your care journey – seeking support is so important to do,” says Dr Roberts. “After all, it’s estimated that one in four people in a care home will run out of money. That can have a hugely destructive effect on their lives at a particularly fraught time.”

Case study

Husband and wife Frank (99) and Celia (92) were living in a flat in West London. Frank was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s around three years ago, so Celia was caring for him, with their son Julian — who lives in Kent — supporting her as much as possible. Then, after Frank had a couple of falls, Celia and Julian decided that he really needed a bit more day to day support in a care home. The one they found was nice but difficult for Celia to get to.

Julian thought there might be some help available through his employer, Legal & General. As a result, he discovered the services of a Care Concierge adviser, who researched the availability and costs of care homes nearer to Julian, with the dementia support Frank needed. Frank is now located in a specialist home closer to Julian, while Celia has relocated to a more local retirement flat so that she can still see Frank regularly.

Whether you’re planning ahead or need help or guidance now, Legal & General’s Care Concierge service can help – and even offer a free initial 15 minute consultation.
Call free on 0808 196 7817
(Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm – We may record and monitor calls)
Or visit legalandgeneral.com/findingcare 

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