We all save throughout our lives for various things: buying a property, going on holiday, buying a car, or simply fixing a broken boiler or a leaky roof. But one thing few of us save for is the high cost of our care.
Now, the reasons for that are understandable. First, none of us like to think about the day where we might have less than perfect health, or the need to rely on other people to help us do various things. And second, it's hard to save for things that seem as far away as care too, especially when we're already struggling to save to buy properties, pay off debts or just top up our current accounts.
But, old age creeps up on us all, and the cost implications of care can be massive. That's why some people wonder whether or not they should be saving separately to cover care costs¦
How expensive is care?
It won't surprise you to learn that it's impossible to put a precise figure on what care actually costs. That's because it depends on the level of care you need, the type of care you opt for, where you are cared for, and how long you need that care for. However, as a rough estimate, you can expect to pay an average of £29,300 a year in residential care costs, and over £39,000 year if nursing care is necessary. For most people, this feels like a very large sum of money, so it's well worth giving some thought to how you might fund it¦
What happens if you don't have savings?
If you haven't saved to pay for your care when you reach old age, the first thing that will happen is that your local authority will carry out a means test. The local authority will carry out a financial assessment to see how much money you have in savings, how much your home is worth, and how much income you have from various sources (bearing in mind that money from certain benefits and pensions may not be counted).
Once the means test has been completed, the local authority will decide how much you should pay towards the cost of your care. At this point, you may decide to sell your home, freeing up cash to enable you to pay for the cost of your care.
You might also decide to apply for particular benefits. These benefits are intended to help you towards the cost of paying for care in old age, and can really help towards making the cost of your care more manageable.
You could also see if you're eligible for deferred payments this means you can pay the costs of your care until later date, even after you die (after which the costs are paid from your estate).
Should you be saving?
Whatever type of care you opt for, the fact of the matter is that all being well you'll live to a ripe old age. That will inevitably require some form of support and assistance from professionals, family members or friends, and those things will all cost money to varying degrees.
So yes, if you can afford to, consider saving separately to cover care costs. Investigate the type of savings and investments that will be most profitable for you, (perhaps talking to a financial adviser first).
However, don't panic if you can't afford to make savings there's lots of help available to help you pay for care when the time comes. This help will come from the government, tax credits, allowances and other forms of financial support, and you may also be able to use any assets or pensions you've accrued later on in your life.