Letter: Legacies at risk: the cost of care for the elderly and children's duty to their parents

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The Independent Online
Sir: With regard to your article, 'Health care costs eroding old people's wealth' (5 October), I am a single woman, aged 67 and living alone, and I have Parkinson's Disease.

Although Parkinson's is a degenerative disease, it is not itself a killer, and, as I have an otherwise fairly sound constitution, I may well need nursing-home care eventually, for a number of years. Fortunately, I own my own house, have a reasonable professional pension and some savings, and I have no debts. Even so, the will I made a year or two ago may be a mockery, and when my capital is exhausted, I may be unable to pay full nursing-home fees.

My situation is not parlous and I have no dependants, so I may only need 'topping up' by the welfare state for my last years; but what of many of today's 'home-owners', who will reach retirement age still owing money on their mortgage, and with no savings? If the cost to taxpayers of supporting present numbers of low-income pensioners has already spiralled, what of the future?

Private residential and nursing homes are springing up everywhere; many are purely for profit, and the 'Green Park' organisation, which has good and caring homes, is already facing bankruptcy.

For years there has been concern about the burden on a shrinking work-force of supporting the old and the young. Daily the number of able people made redundant has become a liability instead of an asset. Apart from any other considerations, is this really cost-effective?

Yours faithfully,



5 October