Are you in denial about ageing?

Old ladies exercising Retirees today aren't what they used to be: they're off climbing Kilimanjaro and taking pottery classes rather than picking up their pipe and knitting needle.

The conclusion is that people don't seem to be getting old anymore and if we're not getting old then we don't have to worry about pensions and long-term care. Hooray! Or is it?

%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%Baroness Greengross, chief executive of the International Longevity Centre believes 'our society is in denial of the inevitability of ageing' and this has led us to 'put off the difficult decisions for far too long'.

These difficult decisions are about saving enough for our retirement and having enough money in the bank to pay for decent care if we can no longer care for ourselves.

There's a very good chance that you're going to get old and there's an increasing chance that you're going to spend some of your twilight years in care. The problem is no-one wants to think about either of those things; maybe it's because of we start thinking about getting old and needing care then we start thinking about death and pondering our own mortality is never a happy past time.

Chances are you're not pondering these question but don't worry, you're in good company; the government isn't thinking about it either.

According to the Public Service and Demographic Change Committee the cost of age-related spending issue to increase from 21% of GDP in 2016/17 to 26% in 2061/62. To put it in perspective that's an increase of £79 billion in today's money.

According to the committee there has been a lack of joins up thinking when it comes to age-related costs, all of which have left our pensioners with little to live on, a confusing care system and a healthcare system that is unable to deal effectively with their needs.


It's not a surprise that we're all living longer but the government has put its head in the sand when it comes to dealing with these problems, leaving them all to fester.

Individuals need to look at how successive governments have handled the issues and cots around ageing and note its failings. The chances are you are making the same mistakes; not saving enough for retirement, assuming long-term care is something that other people need, assuming that you can always stay in your home without making modifications.

Thinking about these problems now and dealing with them in advance will ensure you don't find yourself in the situation that the government finds itself in. It may be troubling to think about old age now but it will give you peace of mind when you get there.

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Are you in denial about ageing?
Figures from charity Age UK show that 29% of those over 60 feel uncertain or negative about their current financial situation - with millions facing poverty and hardship. Even though saving for retirement is not much fun, the message is therefore that having to rely on dwindling state benefits in retirement is even less so. To avoid ending up in this situation, adviser Hargreaves Lansdown recommends saving a proportion of your salary equal to half your age at the time of starting a pension. In other words, if you are 30 when you start a pension, you should put in 15% throughout your working life. If you start at 24, saving 12% of your salary a year should produce a similar return.
Many older couples rely on the pension income of one person - often the man. Should that person die first, the other person can therefore be left in a difficult position financially.
One way to prevent financial hardship for the surviving person is to take out a joint life annuity that will continue to pay out up to 67% of the original payments to the surviving partner should one of them die.

The disadvantage of this approach, however, is that the rate you receive will be lower. Again, the Pensions Advisory Service on 0845 601 2923 is a useful first port of call if you are unsure what to do.

Around 427,000 households in the over-70 age groups are either three months behind with a debt repayment or subject to some form of debt action such as insolvency, according to the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS).

Its figures also show that those aged 60 or older who came to the CCCS for help last year owed an average of £22,330. Whether you are retired or not, the best way to tackle debt problems is head on.

Free counselling services from the likes of CCCS and Citizens Advice can help with budgeting and dealing with creditors.

Importantly, they can also conduct a welfare benefits check to make sure you are receiving the pension credit, housing and council tax benefits, attendance and disability living allowances you are entitled to.

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The average UK pensioner household faces a £111,400 tax bill in retirement as increasing longevity means pensioners are living on average up to 19 years past the age of 65, according to figures from MetLife. And every year in retirement adds an extra £5,864 in direct and indirect taxes based on current tax rates to the costs for the average pensioner household. You can be forced to go bankrupt if you fail to pay your taxes, so it is vital to factor these costs into your retirement planning.It is also important to check that you are receiving all the benefits and tax breaks you are entitled to if you want to make the most of your retirement cash.

The cost of a room in a care home in many parts of the country is now over £30,000 a year, according to figures from Prestige Nursing and Care. So even if the prime minister announces a cap on care costs - last year the economist Andrew Dilnot called for a new system of funding which would mean that no one would pay more than £35,000 for lifetime care - families will still face huge accommodation costs. Ways to cut this cost include opting for home care rather than a care home. Jonathan Bruce, managing director of Prestige Nursing and Care, said: "For older people who may need care in the shorter term, home care is an option which allows people to maintain their independence for longer while living in their own home and should be included in the cap." However, the only other answer is to save more while you can.
Older Britons are often targeted by unscrupulous criminals - especially if they have a bit of money put away. For example, many over 50s were victims of the so-called courier scam that tricked into keying their pin numbers into their phones and handing their cards to "couriers" who visited their homes. It parted consumers from £1.5 million in under two years. Detective Chief Inspector Paul Barnard, head of the bank sponsored dedicated cheque and plastic crime unit (DCPCU), said: "Many of us feel confident that we can spot fraudsters, but this type of crime can be sophisticated and could happen to anyone." The same is true of boiler room scams that target wealthier Britons with money to invest, offering "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunities to snap up shares at bargain prices. Tactics to watch out for include cold calling, putting you under pressure to pay up or lose the opportunity for good, and claiming to have insider information that they are prepared to share with you.
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