Get ready for the unexpected costs of ageing

4 min | 11 March 2024

Rebecca Chuks
Rebecca Chuks

Time flies. Our teens and twenties were a blink, our thirties a blur, and all of a sudden, we’re staring ahead at the horizon of middle age. Though there’s lots to gain from a long life, there are also perhaps unforeseen costs associated with getting older. Let’s explore what we can expect to spend, and how best to pay for it.

How to pay for getting older

As with all things, thinking ahead is a great way to manage life as it unfolds. So, before we explore some of the costs associated with getting older, it’s a great idea to make sure you have the basics in place now. If you haven’t already, think about sending regular savings to an easy access savings account. An emergency fund will provide a comforting buffer between you and unexpected costs. Aim for about three to six months’ worth of living costs – and try to top it up regularly as your costs of living increase.

Looking after others

If we’re lucky, a long life can mean lots of loved ones to spend that time with. And by the time many people reach middle age, perhaps they’ll have children to support into adulthood. So, what are the possible costs?

Currently universities in England can charge as much as £9,250 per year for tuition. If you'd like to help your child avoid a student loan, a standard 3-year degree could cost £27,750 – excluding living costs.

If your kids are a bit older, you may be recruited to help out with deposits for first homes, or weddings. In the UK, the average deposit for a first-time buyer is £34,500, while the National Wedding Survey (Opens in new window) from found that the average wedding cashed in at £20,700 in 2023. In the UK, the average deposit for a first-time buyer is £34,500, while the average wedding cashed in at £20,700 in 2023.

Aside from financially supporting your offspring, you may also need to consider the costs of caring for ageing parents and grandparents. Your older relatives may be entitled to various benefits from the NHS or their local council. Though if you decided to pay for their care yourself, you could be looking at average costs of £800 per week for a place in a care home, or around £1,078 if they had to move into a nursing home.

Looking after yourself

OK – you’ve taken care of the people around you. Now, what are the costs associated with looking after yourself?

Many people may notice a change in their vision once they hit their early 40s. This is called presbyopia – a natural deterioration of the eyes’ ability to focus on nearby objects as we age, usually becoming apparent at the start of middle age. You may be entitled to free eye tests and glasses, depending on your health, family history or other factors, so it’s worth investigating your options.

Otherwise, the costs can stack up. They include eye tests (around £20–£30), frames (from £15 to well over £100, particularly if you go down the designer route) and lenses (from £15 up to over £300).

And just like with our eyes, other conditions may arise as we age, like diabetes or high blood pressure. This could mean regular medication, where a single prescription item comes in at £9.65 in the UK – which may become a regular outgoing, if you were ineligible for a medical exemption certificate. You may also notice a decline in your hearing – another common age-related change. If this progresses to the point of needing hearing aids, you may be facing costs from around £595 right through to £3,000 or more if you go to a specialist audiologist. Some hearing aids are free on the NHS (Opens in new window) in the form of a long-term loan.

Looking after your future

We all hope to have perfect health and vitality for all our days – though it's still a good idea to prepare as best we can for an unknowable future. One way to do so might be to downsize your home to help improve accessibility, especially if your children have flown the coop.

Though this could well turn a profit, it may not if you decide to move to a more central location and have to pay stamp duty on another property. Plus, it’s a good idea to be aware of changing costs like higher council tax bills, or even service charge costs, which often come with multi-occupancy buildings.

If you stayed put, you could find that getting around your home isn’t as easy as it used to be, so a few accessibility changes may be in order. You could install handrails along long corridors and short flights of stairs, or useful grab bars in or near your bath or shower. Though the NHS can help in some instances, if you were to cover the costs yourself, you’d be looking at around £175 (Opens in new window) for labour alone, and anywhere from £4.40 to £150 for the actual handrails, depending on your chosen materials, their length and placement.

Maybe your advanced years will bring minimal disruption, but just in case, it could be sensible to start a savings account earmarked for the things you may need.

Looking for somewhere to keep your savings? Bank with Chase and you can open a saver account. Start saving with as little as you like, and we’ll calculate your interest daily and pay it monthly.|

18+, UK residents. Chase current account required to open saver account.

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