Research carried out by Which? has found that millions of people are underestimating the true cost of care.
The research reveals that more than half of the population underestimate care costs by an average of £12,000 per year.
Which? Managing Director of Public Markets Alex Hayman said: “Many people are seriously underestimating the costs of care in later life, meaning they could struggle to find high-quality care for themselves or a loved one, or even face financial difficulties.
“The care system can be confusing and daunting, and must often be navigated at a time of great stress for older people and their families. That’s why it’s vital that people have access to tools and resources to help them plan for the future.”
More than a half of respondents (55%) came up with a figure that was well short of the average cost of a private nursing home in their region, with one in ten underestimating the real figure by £737 a week, or £39,000 a year.
Which? has published a free online cost of care and eligibility checker to help families and their loved ones calculate the likely cost of care in their area.
Londoners had the most unrealistic expectations, underestimating the cost of a nursing home place by an average of £540 a week or £28,101 a year.
People in the East Midlands were the most realistic with a £74 shortfall compared to the real figure, or an annual shortfall of £3,848.