How long would you need to save to pay for dementia care?

Brace yourself for some bad news...

Senior man affectionately stands with an arm around his wife at the hospital. She is sitting with a blank expression on her face

You'd have to put away £800 a year for 125 years to pay the typical cost of dementia care yourself.

As the UK debates how to fund social care for the elderly, the Alzheimer's Society is warning that even if people pre-emptively saved up for dementia care in the same way as they do for their pension, it would still be impossible to prepare for.

It's carried out a survey revealing that nearly half of adults aged between 16 and 75 years old haven't started saving for the care and support they might need in the future.

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More than half of people believe that the government should pay, while just 5% disagree.

"Dementia is a disease, as cancer is a disease, as heart disease is a disease. Getting dementia shouldn't mean families are left bankrupt or destitute with nothing to leave behind," says Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of Alzheimer's Society.

"The social care crisis is a dementia crisis. Many people with dementia and their families are buckling under the inordinate pressure of propping up a failing social care system that has been starved of funding for decades. Too many people are forced to give up everything they own in order to care day in and day out for their mother, father, husband or wife."

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Judith Jordan, 48, says her mother, Joan was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in her early 60s. As her care needs grew, she moved into a care home and cashed in stocks, shares, her husband's life insurance and her pension to help fund care.

Despite five assessments for funding, she was always ruled ineligible for state help, and was paying £4,000 a month for her care.

"My mum ended up spending over £500,000 on her dementia care. She would be devastated to know her money was gone and she could only leave her grandchildren a fraction of what she had hoped. She was so proud to think they would be sorted financially in the future," says Judith.

"By the end of her life mum couldn't eat, drink, speak or move anything but her eyes, yet she still wasn't applicable for state funding despite paying taxes and National Insurance all her life. She paid for all her care right until she passed away."

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Since 2009 there has been an estimated £4.6 billion cut to the social care sector - and because dementia can't be cured or effectively treated, it's costly social care, rather than free NHS treatments, that sufferers need.

The charity warns the bill will topple 'generation rent', who have fewer assets than previous generations, and are at higher risk of developing dementia as people continue to live longer.

"Repeatedly, governments have failed to put a long term plan in place. On behalf of people with dementia, I challenge the next government to create a long term, sustainable system for funding dementia care," says Hughes.

"Currently, many people with dementia feel deserted by the state, and must rely on family members and carers for the support they need."

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