FAMILIES with elderly relatives have flooded a national helpline with queries about care fees.

The Help the Aged charity believes many people have made a new year's resolution to look into care options for older members of their family.

Each year, about 70,000 people sell their family home to finance their care costs.

Nursing and residential homes charge about £23,000 a year. That means even large sums of capital are quickly used up.

But benefits and saving methods mean the cost of that care can be cut substantially.

Glen Osgood, a sen- ior fees advice manager for Help the Aged, explained: "Specialist advice is absolutely critical when people embark on the task of securing care for a relative and may not be readily available at a high street bank or from a general financial adviser.

"But proper advice will go a very long way in helping to reduce costs and simplify myriad legal and tax issues."

The Help the Aged Care Fees Advice service provides free advice and information on freephone 0500 767476.