April 12, 2022

As we age, we all eventually begin to notice that we need assistance and possibly care. No one wants to lose his or her independence, control or autonomy, but it can happen.  When thinking of long-term care, you need to determine where you would want to receive that care; whether it will cause a financial hardship, and if it will be a burden on family and friends.

Long-term care has become synonymous with nursing homes; however, long-term care does not have to be in an institution. Many of these options requiring planning.  We spend time planning for vacations, renovations, and other special events, but we tend to hide our heads in the sand when it comes to planning for aging. 

Often, unpaid family caregivers or friends provide long-term care at home.  According to Andre Picard in 2018, if unpaid caregivers were paid minimum wage, their economic contribution would range from $26 billion to $72 billion. Since 2018, two things have happened, the minimum wage has increased and there is a shortage of personal support workers. 

Lengthy waiting lists and a shortage of long-term care beds is a nationwide issue.  Many people are forced to bridge the gap with paid private care, which can be a strain on most budgets.  The price of this care is on the rise, and I hear frequently of staff shortages at many agencies. This begs the question -- what happens when the caregivers stop caring. 

Due to the out of pocket cost, stress and burnout related to caregiving, a long-term care home becomes a more feasible option.  However, it usually results in feelings of guilt. It is so important to realize that everyone needs support and we may not be able to provide the round the clock care that a loved one needs. Long-term care homes fulfill this need. Long-term care is co-funded by the government. For someone to be admitted to long term care, it must be shown that they are unable to perform at least two activities of daily living (ADL’s). 

Someone may require long-term care if they have serious and ongoing health issues. This can arise suddenly and lead to a crisis situation, or can happen over time as an elderly person becomes frail and loses the ability to participate in their own care. 

Many factors will increase the need for long-term care.  Risk generally increases as we age. Women continue to be at higher risk since they live longer. Poor diet and lifestyle as well as one’s marital status can increase one’s risk. 

It is of utmost importance to have open conversations on aging with family and friends, and investigate what the various care options will cost in order to be incorporated as part of your retirement plan. We all deserve the best care possible, but we also need to recognize that it requires planning and some forethought. Misinformation, lack of knowledge of what care actually costs and where to start the process are sticking points for most people.  Reach out and talk to your advisor.  They can help you plan and be an objective resource for an emotional topic. 

Neela White is a Financial Advisor with Raymond James Ltd. The views of the author do not necessarily reflect those of Raymond James. This article is for information only.  Raymond James Ltd. - member of Canadian Investor Protection Fund.

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