Britons in denial about growing old

London: Britons are refusing to face the reality of old age and are leaving the UK at the mercy of a caring time bomb.

When it comes to thinking about their care needs, Britons are putting their heads in the sand, with a half (49 percent) of people claiming not to be worried about who will look after them when they are old. While four out of ten (42 percent) are prepared to sit back saying they are too young to care about what will happen to them in older life.

And according to BUPA’s annual Health of the Nation survey, almost one in ten (9 percent) of over-65s are still refusing to believe they should think about their care needs.

The nation’s failure to grasp the true impact of old age and the care required does not stop there. Nearly a third (30 percent) believe they will be able to look after themselves, one in four (27 percent) think their partners should shoulder the burden, while 26 percent expect it to be the responsibility of their children. Just 20 percent say they will look to the state.

A recent survey of 19,000 people living in BUPA Care Homes has shown that most residents, have problems with mobility, suffer from incontinence and are confused and forgetful. The survey also revealed that nine out of ten residents had a medical reason for seeking specialist nursing care and that the average age of a resident in a BUPA care home is 83 years old.

The Health of the Nation research underlines the need for greater awareness of the risks of ageing, only a third (33 percent) of the population have admitted to worrying about getting old and have considered whether they may need to go into a care home.

Money is a major concern of those growing old. Half said they worry about using all their savings for care in their old age. However, four out of ten (44 percent) of people say they would rather be cared for in a residential home than be a burden on their family

Dr Clive Bowman, medical director of BUPA Care Services said:

“It is deeply worrying to see people taking an attitude of ‘it won’t happen to me’ as it encourages a reluctance to face reality. Few people realise that one person in five over the age of 80 develops dementia.

“Ageing well is a success story. Planning for ageing badly is increasingly a necessity. If people think now about how they would wish to be cared for – should the need arise – they will be better prepared for later life.”

To receive BUPA’s free ‘Planning for your needs in later life’ guide or a copy of the ‘Choosing a care home’ checklist, please call 0800 00 10 10 (free from the UK).