Elderly Parents Receive £33bn Of Unpaid Care Each Year

Elderly parents receive £33bn in unpaid care and assistance each year, according to research by Liverpool Victoria. Children spend on average more than 10 hours a week visiting and running errands for parents, with a quarter (27%) spending more than 16 hours a week caring for their parents. The survey of 3,000 people by the UK’s largest friendly society shows that adult children give up more than 45 hours each month, the equivalent to an extra full-time working week, at an unpaid annual cost of £4,076. This equates to 540 unpaid hours in care every year.

The survey also shows that a residential care home providing nursing care can cost £71,000 over a 30 month period, the average duration of an elderly person’s stay in a care home. This is £78 per day, although the average British adult underestimates the cost by 30%. Currently, almost 125,000 elderly people pay for their own care, at a UK annual cost of £3bn.

The overall cost of caring for a parent is £120,187. This figure is made up of the cost of residential nursing care, as well as the amount of unpaid care adult children invest in their elderly parents over a ten year period. One in five British adults (17%) have elderly parents or in-laws who need care, according to the research.

Over the next ten years the annual cost for people who pay for their own care will have risen by over 63% to £4.9bn, in line with the UK’s ageing population. By 2026 this will have soared again to £7.4bn, with 185,000 people by this time projected to be in care homes across Britain and having to pay for it themselves.

The financial burden of care, both today and in the future, is a clear concern for adult children. Already people are making big sacrifices in order to help and assist their parents, with one in five (17%) saying support for parents needing care is a higher priority than financial support for their children. In addition, half (48%) of those with parents who need care say they have had to put some aspect of their lives on hold in order to look after them.

Just 7% of all adults give up to £100 per month to parents needing care, to help with the costs. Many adult children aren’t in a position to help their parents financially though – 44% of the survey’s respondents said that their elderly parents will have to sell their own home in order to fund their care, while half (50%) of those surveyed expect the state to pick up the bill for care.

Three-quarters (74%) of adults underestimate the cost of care in a nursing home. The 18-24 years age range are widest of the mark, despite being the most concerned about their parents or in-laws requiring help and assistance in the future. They estimate the weekly cost of care at £301. The over 65s put the average cost at £428 a week, but the reality is that care homes with nursing care cost an average of £545 per week, and other residential care homes cost an average of £392 per week.

Contact with adult children is clearly important to elderly parents. Unsurprisingly, parents who see their children at least once a week feel less lonely than those who see their children less, or not at all. Four in ten (41%) parents who have little or no contact with their children feel isolated from others, compared with a quarter (26%) of those who have regular contact with their children.

Today’s 18-24 year olds are the most worried about what will happen to their parents in the future. A third (33%) of this age group whose parents do not currently require care or assistance are concerned about whether they will require care in the future, whilst men (25%) seem only slightly less concerned than women (30%).

Regionally across the UK, the research shows that care in Greater London is the most expensive (£705 per week for care homes providing nursing care, £528 per week for other residential care homes), followed by the Southern Home Counties (£689 and £430 per week respectively) and the Northern Home Counties (£680 and £454 per week respectively).

Nigel Snell, Liverpool Victoria’s Communications Director, said: “£33bn is a staggering sum to be given in unpaid care each year to elderly parents. The costs of care are also going up and up, so the financial burden can only get heavier. This means it is vital for parents and children to plan ahead and try to make regular savings to fund their future care needs. Planning for the future of the family is something that everyone needs to do, to ensure that elderly parents can have the best possible care, without their children having to put their own lives on hold.”