Despite government warnings that the elderly care system is unsustainable, 70% of over-55s don't believe that they should pay for care in retirement.
Just 2% have long-term care insurance, while the vast majority say they are worried, concerned or terrified about their likely care costs in old age, according to research from Aviva.
At least things aren't as bad as in Romania where Elena Stancu, 75, bought a coffin and cross from her savings and keeps them in her one-room apartment to make sure she will have a decent funeral.
The costing conundrum
While the majority of over-55s in Britain would prefer not to pay for care, they concede that it is unlikely that the state will be able to pay for everyone. The most popular options were for the 'better off' to contribute to the cost of their own care but for the government to pick up the tab for everyone else (51%) or for those who can afford to, to contribute to the cost of care (36%).
How affordability is determined was a matter for debate, however, with some suggesting it should be based on current assets (16%) and others feeling lifetime income (14%) should be the measure. Irrespective of what system was used, half felt there should be a cap on how much an individual was forced to pay towards their own care.
Despite the fact that under the current system people are expected to finance aspects of their care, the research highlights a significant lack of preparation. Over half of over-55s have no plans at all in place to pay for their care, and 14% continue to believe that the government will cover all the fees.
Even amongst those who have some plans in place, just 2% have long-term care insurance with others preferring to rely on savings and investments (13%), housing equity (9%), their pension funds (3%) and on family assistance (3%).
However, while some over-55s were happy to use their housing equity to finance care, a clear majority (62%) believe that they should not be forced to sell their house to pay for care. Those aged 65-75 were the most averse to seeing their homes sold to pay for care (68%) – potentially as they have already earmarked the equity for other costs in retirement.
Concerned, worried or terrified
Just 19% of over-55s say they are relaxed, with the majority feeling concerned (41%), over a quarter feel worried (29%) and – even – terrified (12%) about the prospect of meeting long-term care costs.
Almost half said there needs to be clearer information, 46% felt the government should set clear universal care standards and 36% would like to see a single government department responsible for all care issues.
Clive Bolton, 'at retirement' director at Aviva, said: "Our research clearly shows that the majority of over-55s do not believe that they should have to pay for care in retirement. However with a rapidly ageing population, this is simply not possible and over-55s realise that they are likely to have to make some sort of contribution to the overall cost of their care.
"What form this contribution will take is not clear but with just 2% of over-55s claiming to have long-term care insurance, the likelihood is that they will need to look to other assets such as savings, investments or housing equity. Many people are looking to the State for guidance on care funding, standards and entitlement so now is the time for the Government to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the Dilnot Commission and take steps to build a sustainable system."