We have to hope that our twilight years see us being mobile, lucid and capable of self care until the day we drop dead. The generation of 50-60 year old now has the most to worry about if we need help with daily life in our later years. Before this generation, people didn't live long enough for it to be a problem and after this, the issue of what to do about it will hopefully have been resolved.
Successive governments have known and made vague references to this growing time bomb, but none have had the guts to really try and address the issue of how it will be dealt with.
There is a misunderstanding from many that the state should look after those who have dutifully paid their taxes for years, but the NHS was never set up to provide nanny facilities for people who need to be in an elderly care home.
We have wanted to have the good life with fewer children to spend money on, greater opportunities for working and living away from our roots and extended families, the price we pay is a community isolated from the support that used to exist when granny had the spare room and at least 3 of your 4 children lived down the road to help out.
Now we have to pay for someone to help wash, dress, feed and entertain us and the costs are huge. With an aging population and life expectancy increasing every year with our better lifestyles and medical care, we can expect the issue facing elderly care to go on and on. It is unfortunate that better healthcare during our younger years often means a poorer lifestyle in old age.
It is hard enough if physical frailty alone is an issue, but if dementia residential care is needed, this is another complication. When we are lucid, we have more control over what happens to us but when our mental faculties fail, we are reliant on others to make sure we have what we would want. The quality of what we get is not always great.
Even with a cap on the amount we have to part with as suggested by the Dilnot Commission, we will still have to sell our houses in most cases. Until you have to look into the costs of elderly care homes, one has no idea of the amounts needed to fund a good quality of life. A week in an elderly care home will cost anything from 400 for very basic residential care to over 1200 for top end nursing care. Dementia residential care may cost a little more at the bottom end and the quality varies considerably. The average cost for an elderly care home then is 40,000 per annum, so the cap that the Dilnot Commission talks about will give less than a year's worth of care. God help us and all the other tax payers if we live for more than 10 years then.