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Now the elderly are the new boomerang generation



First there was the “boomerang generation”, the millions of people in their 20s and early 30s starting adult life by moving back in with their parents because of the cost of housing.

But another, perhaps rather more unexpected, section of the British public has also begun to give serious consideration to doing the same thing: elderly people.

Dramatic improvements in life expectancy in recent years mean the unheard of prospect of someone entering their 80s still fortunate enough to have parents living is a reality for many.

Now operators of retirement villages have noticed a small but growing trend for new elderly residents to move in - accompanied by their own, even more elderly, parents.

According to the most recent official estimates, the number of people over the age of 70 in the UK has risen by 15 per cent in a decade to just under eight million.

But the ranks of those over the age of 100 have swollen by almost three quarters in the same period, with around 14,450 centenarians living in the UK last year.

A 100th birthday card that the Queen sends to centenarians CREDIT: SWNS

Jane Ashcroft, chief executive at the housing and care charity Anchor, said she knew of at least four sets of elderly parents and children recently moving into the group’s sites.

Typically they rent or buy separate apartments side by side or nearby each other, enabling the “child” to support or even care for their parent while also preparing for their own old age, she explained.

They include Thelma Foxhall, who turns 80 later this month, and her 100-year-old mother Hilda Hammock, who live in the same block in a retirement complex run by Anchor in Pymble in Selby, North Yorks.

When I first moved in I knew it wouldn’t be long until my mum joined me, after all we do come as a packageThelma Foxhall

“When I first moved into my first floor flat in Pymble, I knew it wouldn’t be long until my mum joined me, after all we do come as a package,” said Ms Foxhall.

“A year later, she moved into a flat downstairs.

“Mum was first taken ill a few years ago and we made a family decision that it was time she got the support she needed.

“However, after visiting a nursing home, it was immediately clear that it wasn’t the right solution for her.

“We’ve always lived close together so it only seemed natural.

“I spend time with my mum at least twice a day; usually in the morning and in the afternoon after I’ve been shopping but living here also means she can continue to be independent even in triple figures – we both can.”

Jane Ashcroft said: “Families living close by to each other is something we are seeing more and more of at Anchor’s retirement properties across the country.

“Thelma and her mother, Hilda, are just one example of why it makes for such a beneficial arrangement.

“They get the best of both worlds; they are there for one another but also have the freedom and independence that is offered from the sheltered housing setting.

“This is something we expect to increase as grown-up children and parents look for flexible options for great quality of life as they get older.”

It echoes a wider trend towards households with middle-aged couples accommodating not only their own children but their parents or even grandparents under one roof.

They get the best of both worlds; they are there for one another but also have the freedom and independenceJane Ashcroft, Anchor

Last year there were an estimated 295,000multi-generational households in the UK, a 50 per cent increase on the figure a decade earlier.

Tasnim Khalid, a lawyer with JMW Solicitors, said the development was typical of concerns voiced by different generations about their finances.

“We’ve heard anecdotally of individuals moving back in with their parents for a time in order to save money for the deposit on a home,” she said.

“However, as a firm we are advising more and more multi-generational families about how best to meet and manage what they have described as a squeeze on their finances across the age groups.

“Clients who are middle-aged and older have reported concerns about meeting the cost of long-term care.

“At the same time, they’re telling us about how their children are taking longer to pay off mortgages and their grand-children are either struggling with debts from studying at university or unable to get on the property ladder.

“Money worries are not unique to those at any single stage of life. As life expectancy increases, working out how to meet the expense associated with care fees, for instance, is something that even young people are aware of because of experience within their own family.”

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