Figures from Key Retirement Solutions, the equity release specialist, show that nearly half of over-65s do not know how much they need to pay, with 35pc believing there was a cap in long-term care costs at £20,000, and only 7.5pc opting for the £35,000 cap on social care proposed in the Dilnot Report.
At present, anyone in England with assets over £23,250 has to fund all of their own care, despite the Dilnot Commission recommending last year that the total anyone should have to contribute should be £35,000. A Department of Health working group suggested a cap of between £50,000 and £60,000.
The survey came as figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that we are living longer than ever. Around a third of babies born this year are expected to celebrate their 100th birthday, the figures showed. Of the women and men who turn 65 this year, 10pc of men are expected to reach 100, and 14pc of women.
However, healthy life expectancy is not growing as fast as life expectancy itself, meaning that large numbers of people are expected to need care in later life in the future.
Dean Mirfin, a director of Key Retirement Solutions. said: "It is striking that despite the high-profile debate around long-term care that so many people are not aware of how much they might have to contribute. And when they do express an opinion their estimate is clearly well below the figures recommended by the Dilnot Commission and the Government. The worry is that thousands of retired people are heading for a nasty shock when they should be preparing for the possibility of having to fund long-term care." Around 20,000 pensioners a year are estimated to have to sell their homes to fund care.