Tens of thousands of ageing parents will spend their later life in care homes – because just one in three families intend to give them a roof over their heads, according to a study.
The study, of 2,000 adults with parents aged over 60, also found a third would have to ‘think seriously’ about the implications before making a decision.
Around half who refused said their home ‘wasn’t big enough’, while four in ten said they ‘wouldn’t be able to cope’.
Some 20 per cent said they feared they lacked the necessary skills to look after their parents, while one in ten said their own health wasn’t up to it.
Financial reasons, having their own children still at home and not having a close relationship with their parents were other factors.
The report, conducted by leading national care provider Care UK, comes at a time when the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR)¹ has revealed its estimation that by 2030 there will be more than two million people aged 65 and over with no child living nearby to give care if needed.
Maizie Mears-Owen, head of dementia services at Care UK, said: “We understand that the future care of a parent is an emotional topic and can be a difficult subject for many families to approach with their loved one.
”Discussing care plans with your parents can be upsetting, especially for the first time, but we encourage families to research and talk about their options so they can make informed decisions together.
“Support is available but it can often be hard to find. Talk to a financial advisor about your options and seek advice online.
”We work closely with families to understand their needs and advise on all the options of care available, from respite and at-home support through to nursing and residential care.”
Today, Care UK’s research has also revealed that two thirds of adults worry about the future care of their parents, yet most refuse to discuss the topic with them, and even less have made any plans.
According to the survey findings, 66 per cent of adults have never discussed the issue with their parents as either side may refuse to talk about it, or it simply has not ever come up.
In comparison, just five per cent discuss the topic regularly and one in five broach the subject from time to time.
Worryingly, only seven per cent of respondents said they have made plans for their parents’ future care.
With an ageing population and an expected increase in the need for elderly care services, Care UK say that this is a subject that needs to be discussed, sooner rather than later.
Three out of four of those polled said they felt their parents would wish to stay in their own home, but two in three respondents said they wouldn’t want to leave them home alone.
Seventy-four per cent also said they would feel awful if their parents wanted to live with them but they couldn’t accommodate them.
In addition, the study found that while 37 per cent of those polled felt that a care home could provide better care for their parents, they felt guilty about arranging external care.
Maizie adds: “From our experience, the thought of moving parents into a care home can come with great concern.
”Often the decision is made at crisis point – when parents need a level of care which families may not be able to provide.
”This can lead to a big decision that nobody was prepared for, which only heightens the anguish for parents and their families.
“This is why we encourage people to discuss the subject of care with their parents before it becomes a necessity.
”This gives both parents and families a sense of control and also allows them to explore all the options available.
”For example, parents may not need full-time care, but there are day centre options in which parents can spend a few hours and receive vital care and support in a sociable setting.
”Having an open and honest discussion about this beforehand – and perhaps trying out the options available – can save a lot of stress and heartache in the future.”
Interestingly, the survey also found that attitudes towards parental care seem to change according to age, with 18 to 24 year olds most likely to say that they would look after their parents compared to respondents aged 55 or over who were most likely to say they would not.
Maizie concludes: “I think the idea of looking after your parents is very different from the reality. This is perhaps why younger people are more open to the idea.
“As people get older, their own finances, how much space they have and bringing up their children are all factors which can make it harder for them to look after their parents. Again, this is why we encourage families to talk it through, see the best solution for all, and make the most of the help and advice available to them.
“Within the community there are many places people can ‘drop in’ to find out where to go for further support – such as a local care home or Citizens Advice Bureau.
”www.carersuk.org is a great place to start. Taking this all-important step towards getting sound information and professional advice really can make a big difference further down the line.”
Reasons for not having ageing parents live with you
1. Our house isn’t big enough
2. I couldn’t cope
3. I don’t have that kind of relationship with my parents
4. I lack the necessary skills to deal with them
5. I have too many work commitments
6. I cherish my independence
7. It wouldn’t be financially feasible
8. I have children to look after
9. My partner wouldn’t agree to it
10. My health isn’t up to it
Reasons for not discussing future care plans with parents
1. It’s not something I worry about right now
2. It’s a depressing topic
3. I don’t know enough about the care options available
4. We don’t want to face it
5. It’s too upsetting for my parents
6. It’s too upsetting for me
7. Neither of us can afford to pay for care if and when they need it
8. If we don’t talk about it, it can’t cause arguments