Buying a Stairlift Can Help Save Your Home and Your Independence

Over a third of Britons aged over 55 say they would be compelled to sell their home to fund long-term care in retirement

Age UK, the organisation created by the merger of Age Concern and Help The Aged, have revealed on their website, that in excess of a third of Britons aged over 55 feel that they would have no option but to sell their home to fund long-term care in retirement.

Law company Dickinson Dees have made a projection that if these figures were rolled out across the whole UK population, it would equate to two million Britons facing the prospect of selling their homes to fund their care in their dotage.

According to a YouGov survey of 4,500 people, the concerns of the over-55s are also reflected amongst couples in the  age group 34-54, with 44%  revealing they feel they would be compelled to  sell their home if one of them needed residential care.

National statistics bear these poll results out, with  20,000 older people forced to sell their homes in 2010 to fund care home fees: each year 130,000 people go into long-term care.

Deborah Jude, a partner at Dickinson Dees, explains: “It can be really upsetting to find out an entire inheritance or family home has to be spent on care. ‘There are a few ways to shield some of this wealth, using wills and gifts, but plans need to be drawn up when people reach retirement, not after they’ve drifted into infirmity”.

Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director at Age UK comments: “The care system has been crumbling for many years and is in desperate need of fundamental reform to meet the needs of an ageing population. Every day, thousands of families face agonising decisions about care for their loved ones. They can find themselves in the middle of a perfect storm, where dwindling savings are not enough to meet rocketing care costs”.

She continues: “When it comes to care costs, it is a good idea to start looking at options as soon as possible, rather than waiting for a crisis to develop. Planning ahead and exploring your financial options with your family will minimise the shock – because it is not unusual for care in a residential or nursing home to exceed £40,000 per annum”.

Michelle Mitchell adds: “Age UK is campaigning for a system which is both affordable for individuals and taxpayers and enshrines dignity, fairness, autonomy and simplicity. As part of these reforms we want to see people have better options for protecting their assets from the risk of very high care fees, if that is what they want”.

Clearly the best option and solution is for all of us, is to live in our homes for as long as possible. Psychologically and emotionally it is better that we have as much self autonomy and independence for as long as is humanly possible. Also financially it is better for younger members of the family that as little of their inheritance is absorbed and swallowed up by Care Home Fees. However for this perfect scenario to be achieved, it will require a greater commitment and sacrifice from the extended family than perhaps we have seen in recent generations!!

The economic hardship and austerity we have all suffered in recent times have caused many of us to re-focus and re-appraise what is really important to us in life. As a result, many of us have concluded that we need to put more emphasis on quality of life and family life. This does not necessarily mean just spending more time with the children, but also dedicating more time and effort to looking after the older generation too. We need to embrace more of the paternal approach, that was apparent in a previous era, when Care Homes and Residential Homes were not an option.

By doing this, it may help to “delay the inevitable” passage into a Care Home for as long as possible, which is in the interests of all parties. Clearly one of the biggest issues for allowing the elderly to continue to live in their own homes, is mobility. Within this equation, ascent and descent of the stairs is the usually the biggest challenge. Investment in a stairlift could be the shrewdest move you ever make, and the most liberating day for the elderly family member that they have experienced since VE Day in 1945!!

An investment of a couple of thousand pounds could free you of the burden of hundreds of thousands of pounds on Care Home fees, and just as importantly free your elderly relative of the shackles of struggling up the stairs; not to mention the perpetual haunting fear of falling down them!!

Such is the sophisticated technology of the modern stairlift, that however inaccessible a stairwell might be, there is always a practical solution. There are a number of variations of stairlift, ranging from the Straight Stairlift which might be more suitable in a more modern property to a Curved Stairlift, where idiosyncratic bends need to be negotiated in an older period property.

So despite the inherent fears expressed in the YouGov poll, the Stairlift might be the panacea to many of the problems that prevent the elderly continuing to enjoy a good quality of life in their own home. But whatever modern technology can be deployed and implemented in the home, it has to be supported by dedicated care, not just from community health professionals, but the family as well. The technology is not enough on it’s own. Just as important to the welfare and well being of our elderly relatives is the emotional support and nurturing given by family members.

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