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Older people embarrassed by health and care needs

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Many elderly people find it difficult to access care services because of embarrassment over their health and care needs, a study by YouGov has found.

The study of 6000 people found that 60 per cent of those aged over 65 not already receiving support would find discussing their care needs with a healthcare professional or a family member prohibitively embarrassing. Forty one per cent said they would wait for their GP or nurse to raise the subject first and consider getting support once they recommended it. A fifth (20%) said they would wait for a social care professional to recommend care before getting help.

The study also found that 24 per cent of Britons would only talk with an older relative about their care after they had already experienced problems, such as a fall or illness. Nine per cent said they were too embarrassed themselves to discuss the subject with an older relative. A fifth of those with older parents who already received care said relatives were still too embarrassed to discuss their needs and had hidden problems from them.

A new campaign by Circle Housing, a not for profit organisation, aims to help medical and social care professionals' advise individuals and their families about care technology designed to protect older people's independence for longer.

Dr Dawn Harper, who is contributing to the campaign, said: 'It's important that we're all aware of the variety of help available to those who want to continue living independently so we can start to break the stigma. I always advise families to take advantage of support like telecare which involves minimal disruption to the user's life but ensures their family has total peace of mind.'

Wendy Darling, managing director of Centra Pulse, which funded the study said: 'It is only by starting those conversations that we can start to take away the stigma that exists and encourage more people to open up about their needs and preferences. Older people say they fear they will be thought of as a burden or incapable when they start to suffer problems at home so find it difficult to open up to those closest to them. Health and social care professionals can play a key role by signposting patients and families to tools that will help, including personal alarms.'

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