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Families avoiding ‘difficult conversations’ about old age care
Our latest research reveals that many of us are burying our heads in the sand when it comes to the realities of our later life care, or the care of those close to us.
As part of our research we surveyed those with elderly relatives and grown-up children about their attitudes towards Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs).
The research revealed that only one in ten adults (11%) in the South West have an LPA in place.
Even more concerning is the fact that 61% of those without an LPA, and who have adult children or relatives, haven’t discussed their wishes for future care with their loved ones.
When questioned as to why plans hadn’t been made or discussed, nearly half (46%) said it was something that they haven’t thought about yet, whilst 25% said they thought they were fine as they were. The remainder didn’t want to bring up the topic or distress relatives.
Angela Thomas, Partner at Barcan+Kirby said:
“Despite the vast majority of people being aware of what an LPA is and why it is so important, there is a real reluctance to put one in place or even discuss wishes and concerns for old age.
Part of the issue may be that people are now healthier for longer, with those of retirement age likely to remain very active and possibly still working. It may be that people feel that an LPA is something that can be put on the back burner. Or perhaps they don’t see themselves as ‘elderly’ and don’t like to think about getting older.”
In fact, when asked why an LPA hadn’t been put in place, those in the older age bracket (55+) were more likely to put off getting one – with 63% stating it was something they’d consider in the future.
Although people may put off discussing these issues because they want to avoid a difficult conversation with their loved ones, not putting these directives in place can actually end up causing more upset.
Bristol Older People’s Forum, Bristol’s largest older-people led charity, canvass their members regularly on a wide range of issues. Judith Brown, Chair, said:
“No one likes to feel that the time may come when they may be unable to take care of themselves, and it can be equally difficult to imagine your parents, or relatives, being in that situation. The reality is it may happen. Having an LPA or Will in place means that everyone is clear on what needs to happen so that what is already a very difficult time does not become any harder.
Bristol Older People’s Forum want all older people to be able to take part in decisions which affect them, and we know too that people do not want to be trouble to their relatives. Having that thoughtful conversation which spells out what needs to be done can relieve everyone’s minds, and much better done sooner than later.”