Ash Sarkar: The old are being abandoned just when they need help most

Not that I’m biased, but my grandma is objectively the coolest pensioner in the world.

She chomps raw chillis at dinner, knocks back Scotch and makes jokes so bawdy it would make a sailor blush.

But watching her get older and frailer, despite her enduring mischief, has been terrifying. The social safety net for old people in this country is gossamer thin, stretched to breaking point, and getting worse.

My mum, herself in her 60s and in full-time work, is one of the 7.6 million Brits providing unpaid care for a relative. Mum’s one of the lucky ones – more than a million unpaid carers themselves have a long-term illness or disability.

She also has enough room in her house for my grandma to live with her, as well as a husband and an exceptionally charming daughter on hand to pitch in.

But juggling a job and care commitments is tough. And, like around 95% of unpaid carers, our family does it without any support from the council.

As it stands, people have to pay for their own elderly care if their capital and income exceeds £23,350, including the value of their home.

One in 10 pays more than £100,000 – which means, realistically, the struggling social care system is kept afloat on the backs of old people’s family members.

And if it’s hard for my parents’ generation to look after ageing relatives, it’s going to be near impossible for mine. Ten years ago, home ownership for my age group was at 65%.

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