Mental health and Care Funding
One in three will need some long term care. It's one of the consequences of living longer. No one knows who will need it and who won't. But one thing is sure - it's very costly. Expect to pay around £9,000 a year for two to three hours help a day in your own home and around £25,000 a year for round-the-clock care in a residential home.
Here's our guide to getting more towards care bills.
Financing long term care is difficult. Rules vary according to where you live in the UK. But some government agencies are exploiting the complexities to deprive those needing care, or their families, of financial help which is theirs by right.
Some authorities deny help which they must legally give. They either rely on ignorance, or hope families will be too embarrassed to push for their rights. Some try to confuse care needers and their families into acquiescence. Families also have to cope with means testing and struggle over which kind of care elderly people need.
Local authorities have to label elderly people requiring continuing care as either 'nursing care' or 'social care' cases. Nursing care includes such needs as frequent medication or artificial feeding while social care would comprise help with dressing, washing or mobility.
Nursing care should be free from the NHS. Social care costs depend on the financial means and assets of the person needing care.
Anyone going into a long-term residential home for non-medical care with assets of £12,900 in England or less should receive local authority help. This covers the gap between their own income and "typical" care home costs or actual costs if lower.
Someone with a weekly pension income totalling £200 and care home costs of £450 should have the £250 gap paid for by the local council. Once total assets top £19,500 there is no council help. For those with assets between the two figures, there is a sliding scale.
Shared beneficial ownership
Married couples and unmarried partners (including same-sex couples) often own their home through a "joint tenancy". This says each brick is owned by the couple and is indivisible. But they should consult us and move to "tenants in common" where each person owns a 50% share which can be transferred or sold.
Each partner should will their share of the property to children. When the first dies, the remaining partner continues to live there. If the survivor needs care, the means test can only include that person's share of the home.
But valuing this is not as simple as councils think. Local authorities have to use the open market value of that share - not take half the worth of a similar property.
Mental Health Act
Anyone needing long term care because they have been assessed by doctors under section 117 of the Mental Health Act because they are a danger to themselves or to others, can have long term care at no cost. This can be helpful to familys in some cases of dementia.
Local authority assessors have to decide if the care need is temporary or permanent. Most just box-tick "permanent" when they can include the value of a property in their calculations. But a temporary stay can last up to one year.
This could apply to someone who suffers a stroke and then makes sufficient recovery that they can return home. Families will often need to argue the case and produce medical evidence.
A property is most people's biggest or only asset. But its value must be ignored if:
• A spouse still lives there;