Re-caring nightmare: over fifties fear losing the family home to pay for care

  • Two-thirds (66%) of homeowners over 50 worry about covering the costs of care
  • Almost half (46%) expect to have to sell their house to afford to live in a care home
  • Eight in ten (81%) plan to dip into savings for age-proofing home improvements
  • 75% of those in West Midlands worried about care home costs vs 60% in London
  • Nationwide offers free consultations on borrowing to cover costs of later life care

Two out of three (66%) homeowners aged 50-plus fear being forced to sell their family home to afford later life care, according to research from Nationwide Building Society.

The research, based on a nationally representative sample of 2,000 homeowners, shows that almost half (46%) of those aged over 50 expect to sell their property so that they can pay for assisted living support in a care home.

The cost of residential care has increased significantly in recent years, with the typical cost now in excess of £33,000 per year1. In the last 20 years, it has been estimated that more than 330,000 older people have had to sell their homes to pay for care costs2.

Regional differences in concerns about paying for elderly care:

Nationwide’s data highlights an interesting split across regions, with older homeowners in the West Midlands the most concerned about affording elderly care (75%), with those in London the least worried (60%) – see table below:

Worried Not worried
West Midlands 75% 15%
North East 73% 15%
Yorkshire and the Humber 68% 18%
Wales 67% 20%
East Midlands 67% 23%
East of England 67% 23%
North West 65% 23%
South East 65% 24%
South West 65% 27%
Scotland 64% 24%
London 60% 28%

Care at home the most popular choice for older people:

More than a third (35%) of older homeowners expect to have to move again to another home in their later life. Nearly a quarter (24%) of those over the age of 50 would either consider moving or already have moved to a bungalow to avoid the need to go upstairs which would enable them to live independently for longer.

However, if older homeowners do need later life assistance, more than half (52%) would prefer to continue living alone with outside help from a daily carer that lives separately. A further 23 per cent would prefer to continue living alone, but with a family member close by for help. Only two per cent would consciously choose to move to a care home if they needed support in completing everyday tasks.

For those older homeowners expecting to make changes to their current home to ensure they can remain living there, 81 per cent expect to dip into their savings to pay for the age-proofing renovations such as walk-in baths or stairlifts. Only a fifth (21%) expect these improvements to increase the value of their home.

Nationwide Advice

If people are considering borrowing in later life, then it is important that they seek advice to ensure they understand all the options open to them as there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach.

Nationwide is offering consultations for homeowners who may be considering releasing equity from their home to cover the cost of their later life care. Nationwide’s later life mortgages are designed to let people make use of the money that's built up in their home, with all loans coming with no valuation, product or advice fees.

Nationwide never sells later life products without giving consumers the whole picture and sharing the tools necessary for them to make the most informed decision possible.

Jason Hurwood, Nationwide’s director of home propositions, said: “As life expectancy has steadily increased, so too has the challenge of funding later life care for many. To help people make their choice we need to consider their circumstances and outline all the available options. It is simply not good enough that they walk away with any product but the right product.

“If someone is looking to raise additional funding to pay for care, there are a number of options. One is to downsize or move to a cheaper area; alternatively, you could make changes to your current home that can support you as you grow older.

Depending on your individual circumstances, releasing equity in your home is another option that many choose. However, this is a major financial decision and we’d always strongly recommend seeking independent financial advice to understand all of your options before progressing.”

About Nationwide

Nationwide is the world's largest building society as well as one of the largest savings providers and a top-three provider of mortgages in the UK. It is also a major provider of current accounts, credit cards, ISAs and personal loans. Nationwide has around 15 million customers.

Customers can manage their finances in a branch, via the mobile app, on the telephone, internet and post. The Society has around 18,000 employees. Nationwide's head office is in Swindon with administration centres based in Northampton, Bournemouth and Dunfermline. The Society also has a number of call centres across the UK.

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