Elderly ‘cut back on care’ as cost-of-living crisis bites

The cost-of-living crisis is forcing the country’s elderly to cut back on the amount of money they spend on care, a new poll suggests.

Age UK said that there could be impacts on the health service after a new poll found that one in 10 over 60s across the UK were planning to reduce or stop the care they receive because they cannot afford the cost.

The charity said that care needs are “essential” in keeping people fit and well.

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Meanwhile, its new poll of 1,600 people over the age of 60 found that 22% were planning on cutting back on non-prescription medicines or specialist foods.

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Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “It is alarming that well over a million older people are already cutting back or stopping their social care across the UK, or expect to do so in the months to come, because they can’t afford the cost.

“This is potentially disastrous because if you are an older person with care needs, this support is not a ‘nice to have’ but essential in enabling you to stay fit and well.

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“Our survey findings that even greater numbers of older people are cutting back or stopping medications or specialist food or expecting to do so, or skipping meals or expecting to do so, because of money worries, only add to our concerns.

“Without the care they require, frail and unwell older people are more likely to fall, become malnourished and dehydrated, fail to take their medication, and become seriously ill because an emerging health problem will not be noticed early enough to nip it in the bud.

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A significant proportion of elderly people plan to cut back on the amount of money they spend on care

“Care workers are the only visitors many such older people receive each day, and they play a vital role in sustaining their mental and physical health.

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“Without them, it’s inevitable that some older people will suffer, invisible and unseen, behind closed doors.”

She added: “The cost-of-living crisis has made everyday purchases much more expensive and many older people living on low and modest incomes are finding it impossible to cope, with worse likely to come as they need their heating on more during the chilly weather.

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“It’s terrible that we have reached a position in which the best financial option for some older people is to forego the care and support they rely on, or indeed a square meal or the pain killing gel that makes their knee pain bearable, but high prices over the coming months mean we can only see many more finding themselves facing this predicament.

“That’s why the Government must restore the triple lock and raise both benefits and social care funding in line with inflation at next week’s Fiscal Statement. There’s no doubt that not to do so would be a false economy so far as the NHS is concerned, as well as severely jeopardising older people’s health.”

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A Government spokesperson said: “Social care is a top priority and we are committed to bolstering the workforce and protecting people from unpredictable care costs – backed by £5.4 billion.”

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