New research from Independent Age has found that the cost-of-living crisis is causing many people over 65 to turn to loans and credit cards to make ends meet, as they keep their financial worries from their family.
A survey of more than 1,000 people over 65 has found that 1 in 7 (14%) people over 65 are using loans to survive, as the cost of bills, food and fuel remain at their highest levels for a decade.
The charity, which supports older people facing financial hardship, is concerned that money pressures could lead to isolation, with 1 in 6 (16%) survey respondents saying they feel isolated due to their financial situation.
The research also uncovered a communication barrier:
• 57% of over 65s surveyed claim they wouldn’t feel comfortable asking friends or family for financial support
• 9% are hiding debt from their family
• Over 1 in 8 (13%) have spent money they don’t have rather than admitting to friends and family that they are struggling financially
The survey also revealed concerns about the future. With many pensioners on a fixed income, more than half (57%) agree to being concerned about their financial stability in the year ahead.
Wider public attitudes
The charity surveyed 2,000 people under the age of 65 to understand attitudes on finances in later life. With the State Pension providing up to £203.85 a week, the research found more than half (51%) of people of all ages in the UK believe this payment is inadequate to cover basic needs.
The research also found long-term concerns over the financial sustainability of getting older. Over 2 in 5 (44%) of people aged 18 to 64 in the UK said financial security is their biggest concern about getting older, compared to over a quarter (27%) who said loneliness is their biggest concern about getting older, and over half (55%) of survey respondents who said failing health is their biggest concern about getting older.
A renewed focus on financial hardship
The findings come as Independent Age, a charity that has been supporting older people since the 1800s, has announced its renewed focus to become the only national charity dedicated to supporting people in financial hardship in later life.
John Palmer, Director of Communications at Independent Age, said: “These findings clearly show why our renewed focus on financial hardship in later life is desperately needed. Every day, we receive harrowing calls from frightened older people who are worried about their finances, but it is clear that many more are struggling alone and relying on credit cards and loans as costs continue to escalate.
“Poverty in later life was already a problem before the cost-of-living crisis, and it will continue to be a huge concern even when costs do reduce.
“We believe that no one should face financial hardship in later life. We urge all older people struggling financially to reach out to charities such as Independent Age, or friends and family where possible. Our free helpline can check if you are eligible for certain benefits such as Pension Credit or Attendance Allowance. These have the ability to transform lives for the better. You can contact us by calling 0800 319 6789.”