UK over-55s facing £8k bill to ‘care proof’ homes

Thirty-eight per cent of over-55s would admit their homes need work to make them suitable for later life living, with the average bill for improvements averaging just over £8,000, according to new research from Key.

A report from the over-55s specialist adviser found that he majority of over-55s would admit that their current home is not suitable to cope with any future care needs and that they would face major bills to adapt their houses.

The report, titled Tackling the Care Question, found that over-55s would prefer to stay in their homes if they need care, with nearly half (47%) suggesting they want to be in their current home, and another 28% wanting to be in a more manageable home or sheltered accommodation if they need care.

Only 5% would expect to live with family members while just 4% would opt for residential care. 
However, Key’s report, based on a study among 1,011 over-55s in the UK, found that just 21% of those over the age of 55 believe their current home is suitable for their needs if their health declines in later years. 
“The vast majority of people want to receive care and support in the familiar surroundings of their own home but only one in five people believe that their home is suitable if their health does decline as they get older,” said Key CEO, Will Hale.

“Flights of stairs, a big family bathroom and a multi-level garden might be incredibly desirable for a growing family but tougher for an older couple to manage.”

With the average bill for improvements averaging just over £8,000, the research also revealed that those in Scotland (£7,320) believe that they will need the least to age proof their homes, while those in the South West anticipate paying the most (£9,197).
Furthermore, Key’s data suggested that the proportion of housing equity spent on home or garden improvements fell from 17% in Q1 to 14% in Q2 due to coronavirus. Key said that ‘age proofing’ a home remains a popular choice for many people who take out equity release, and that over half (59%) of customers spend some of the money they release on making their home more functional and comfortable for themselves as they age.
“Over-55s estimate that they need to spend in the region of £8,000 to ‘care proof’ their current home with those in Scotland spending less and those in the South West needing to budget more,” Hale added.

“The need to make these changes may feel like a long way off for those early in retirement but it is important to consider whether your current home could work for you as you get older, otherwise it may be worth exploring other options including a move to a more suitable property.
“How you finance any changes to your property as well as any potential care needs requires careful consideration, so speaking to a specialist financial adviser about all your options is important.”

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