Charity urges finance industry to rethink the way they communicate with older people

FINANCIAL products and services should be “age-proofed” to help people better plan their finances in retirement, according to Age UK.

A report from the charity argues the financial services sector should use more down-to-earth language when describing how people can stay financially resilient in later life.

Age UK said people should be given a positive vision when planning for their needs, and that thinking about future care costs they may need can be a “huge turn off”.

For many older people, care planning brings to mind concerns about catastrophic costs and possible neglect rather than people considering how planning ahead could help them keep their independence for longer, it said.

The report said that to overcome a lack of awareness and misunderstandings: “This means age-proofing and improving financial products and services.”

Age UK’s findings were made following interviews with experts in the finance industry and research with retired older people aged 60 to 89 years old.

It found financial language such as “planning to cope with life events” does not particularly resonate.

The report said: “We recommend testing the alternative language older people used in this research which includes ‘getting your house in order’, ‘managing your affairs’, and ‘preparing for the unexpected’.”

The report also recommends that financial matters should be approached as part of other aspects of retirement such as relationships and health.

It also said people need to have a vision of something which is “financially possible and positive” when planning their future health and care needs.

The Financial Resilience in Later Life report said: “People immediately jumped to considering catastrophic care costs, in the context of poor quality and neglect, without considering preventative support or care that could help them to maintain their independence in their own home.”

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “The older people we talked to were mostly highly pragmatic in thinking about what they could realistically plan for and what they couldn’t and it became very clear that much of the conventional language used by the industry about these things didn’t cut through to them at all.

“They preferred a much more down-to-earth approach and language, and it was interesting that they also enjoyed and benefited from listening to each other talk about the challenges of financial planning in later life and how best to overcome them.

“The research also showed that approaching the issue of planning for future social care costs directly was a huge turn-off for many older people, because this immediately invoked negative ideas about poor quality care and a loss of health and independence.

“Instead, it may well be more helpful to focus discussions around what more people can reasonably do to improve their chances of sustaining their independence and quality of life for longer.”