How Can We Improve the Quality of Life for Older Generations?

There are so many factors that come into play when thinking about how to best support elderly parents, grandparents or relatives.

As the world becomes faster and communications become digital, it’s easy for older generations to feel left behind or have difficulty accessing support services that would bring real value to their lives.

Younger adults also have the burden of responsibility to make key decisions about things such as:

  • Healthcare and medical support
  • Living conditions – care homes vs private residences
  • Financial planning and pensions

It’s a lot to deal with. Yet, millions of people aren’t aware of some of the services on offer, either through public or private organisations, that can help manage all of these elements, with their service users’ best interests as a priority.

Let’s run through some of the things we can do to ensure we put in place solid plans to provide for the generations that came before – and to start thinking about our own futures too!

Making Home a Haven in Later Life

The most significant consideration for many families is around living arrangements. There are multiple options, and the right decision will be personal to you, your relatives, and what sort of support you can offer.

Choices could include:

  • Staying at home with outreach healthcare support.
  • Caring for relatives yourself at home.
  • Permanent residence in a dedicated care home.
  • Opting for supported living as a middle ground. 

Of course, there are pros and cons to each option, and it’s vital to think these through and discuss them carefully before making any decisions.

You’ll also need to look at the financial costs and decide what is most viable long-term to avoid disruption or difficulties further down the line.

Most of us prefer to live at home, where we’re comfortable, settled and have all the familiar belongings that make us feel at ease.

The problem for many people is that caring for a relative at home requires a great deal of time. It also involves adapted equipment, emotional resilience and sometimes physical strength if your loved one needs help with getting about or moving in and out of the shower, for example.

Care homes can be a fantastic choice and ensure you have confidence that your family members are getting the best care possible – but this isn’t for everyone.

Relatives, who don’t like the concept of a care home, or for families where this isn’t financially possible often look for another solution.

Another option involves having a support worker visit your home or be on hand in a supported living facility.

Here’s how it works:

  • Your support worker can come at designated times or on a routine and help with essentials such as shopping, personal care, socialising and staying active.
  • Professional support teams can provide advice on healthcare, practical help with paying bills, and help their patients relax, unwind, and even take a holiday!
  • They advocate for their patients and ensure they don’t sign paperwork or make any decisions that may not be in their interests – such as signing tenancy agreements or making substantial purchases.
  • Support workers can be outreach teams who visit your relative in their own home or stationed at a supported living residence – this is similar to having a private apartment, or can be shared, but ensures each resident has privacy, independence, and their own space to live comfortably on their own terms.

Suppose you’re considering the best route for your family member. In that case, it’s a great idea to speak with a local support worker team, visit some assisted living residences, and get a comprehensive idea about how it works and what the benefits are.

Financial Planning for Retirement

The next crucial factor is finances. If you need to get to grips with a pension fund, investment portfolio or a range of savings accounts, it can be challenging. You’ll need to work out exactly what finances are available and whether they are being managed in the best way.

Pension funds, for example, come in thousands of formats and account structures. There are also rules around lump-sum withdrawals, tax reliefs, and inheritance tax liabilities on gifts.

Therefore, it is critical that you seek professional advice to ensure your family member’s affairs are being properly managed and to help you make informed decisions about the best steps forward.

Many families have the added complication of having older generations who have relocated. There are around 66.2 million expats in the world, growing by about 5% year-on-year.

If your parents or grandparents have property, accounts, or shares overseas, this also needs expert guidance. That will ensure the estate is well managed, and provides the best financial cushion to cover the costs of good living standards and care.

Expat retirement planning is a complex area, and so if you find yourself in this position, you should appoint a financial adviser to help you work through everything carefully.

This exercise is also a perfect way to start thinking about your own retirement funds – with around 25% of Americans having zero retirement savings and no plan for how they will live comfortably in their later years!

If you’re an expat yourself or haven’t started thinking about your pension fund, a financial adviser can help with retirement planning to ensure you’ve got a solid budget, know how much you need to save, and opt for pension products with the best long-term prospects.

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