If there’s one certainty in life it’s that we all grow old.
The uncertainty is whether or not we’ll grow old gracefully or require care for one or a few of the illnesses that inflict misery on what should be the golden years.
If you’re healthy you’ll be one of the many who are now enjoying life after 70 and fulfilling their bucket list dreams, seeking out new challenges and making the most of retirement but, what if you’re not? What are the realities of requiring care as you grow older in the UK?
Recent research has shown that there are over 6.5 million carers in the United Kingdom of which 1.2 million are over the age of 65. Of these, 65% have health problems of their own.
Even these figures cannot be relied on as many older people are too proud or embarrassed to ask for help and so their discomfort and illnesses go unrecorded for as long as they have a partner who is willing and able to care for them.
Many carers in the age group 70+ are spouses. They are caring for their loved one and often don’t consider asking for help as they consider it part of life’s responsibilities and commitment that they made many years ago.
These elderly spouses carry the brunt of the burden of caring, providing practical help like shopping, laundry, cooking and cleaning as well emotional support and arranging appointments for their loved one. A large percentage will help with personal care too, like washing and ablutions, and most will try to help with mobility, but what happens when they become weaker, stressed and depressed?
Many will then turn to the NHS or national homecare services to lighten the burden but it doesn’t suit everyone. Some older people are nervous about having a stranger in to manage their personal care while others feel stressed about potential threatening situations and this stops them asking for help. Others relent and make the move into care homes but the reality is, many elderly people don’t have the funds to enable them to take this option and others don’t qualify for state assisted residential care.
In addition to this, there are around 850 000 people with dementia and 650 000 carers in the UK and it’s anticipated that we’ll have over 1 million people with dementia by 2025. They will all require care of which a large proportion will be given by spouses and other family members but, for many, that care will have to come from government or charitable organisations like Age UK and, more locally, Cotswold Friends.
The cost of dementia to the UK is currently around £26 billion a year. Carers – spouses and other family – save the country £11 billion a year on dementia patient care.
Two thirds of people with dementia i.e. 566 000 live in the community, with one third living in care homes.
Of these only 44% of people with dementia in the UK actually receive a diagnosis.
Taking all that into consideration there is a high probability that you, the UK resident reading this article will either end up needing care or providing care after the age of 70.
If you’d like to find out how you can help organisations like Cotswold Friends grow and be there for you in your later years contact Jane for a meeting or make a donation today.