The costs of elder care in Canada
Saving and investing to start retirement is one thing. Aging in place and being able to afford is something else.
We often discuss how to save and invest (including those subjects on this site), but financial planning is much more than accumulating assets.
I suspect all of us wish to age gracefully but it’s very unlikely we all will. Millions of us will need to plan ahead, way ahead, in an increasingly complex and under-funded healthcare system.
I’ve often wondered what the costs of elder care are in Canada, and what we should be planning for. I have some ideas of course but like most things that are complex, it’s great to ask-an-expert.
The costs of elder care in Canada are high
Wendy Johnstone, owner and operator of Keystone Eldercare Solutions (no affiliation), reached out to me a few months back to discuss this important subject on my site.
I thought it would be worthwhile. Read on for our discussion.
Wendy, welcome to the site!
Mark, thanks very much for having me and a pleasure to talk about this very important, and under-discussed subject.
Wendy, I provided a very brief introduction above but wondering if you could expand on that – share some details about you, your qualifications, background and work you do every day?
Sure thing, Mark….and thanks for having me on your blog. I’m an Eldercare Expert, Gerontologist and Caregiver Coach.
My dad had a stroke over 15 years ago. Despite being a Gerontologist (with a Master’s Degree) with health care navigation skills, I wasn’t emotionally or physically prepared for the transition and decisions ahead. The next month was like a rollercoaster as my family and I struggled with the many difficult decisions that had to be made for the future care of Dad, the most painful one being taking him off life support.
Through my own experience, it became clear that when faced with an eldercare crisis and extreme emotional pressure, family caregivers and seniors don’t know where to turn. Or what to ask. Or how to get through the system. It’s how our business was born.
I’ve been now helping seniors and their families for 20 years to make informed decisions and to make a plan while they navigate the transitions associated with the aging process.
I am also a passionate writer and seniors’ and family caregiver’s advocate and educator. While we can’t prevent aging and loss, we can learn more about how to maintain independence, purpose and meaning during aging. I also want to help family caregivers to better know what to expect, how to navigate the health care and social systems and how to handle the many challenges (and losses) that come with caring for their aging loved ones.
Thanks very much. Let’s jump right in. What are the average costs of elder care these days? What should Canadian retirees be expecting?
Unfortunately, the scope of caring and the costs for family caregivers (financial, emotional, physically, etc.) haven’t been extensively researched up until the last few years so the data is very limited.
Also, everyone ages differently and many factors influence what services and supports a senior will need as they are faced with age-related changes. For example, one older adult may be living at home with dementia and need services such as check-ins, transportation, meal preparation while a different senior facing chronic illness and mobility challenges may be more dependent on personal care services. I think this is a very important concept to understand – the better you know what you might need or what the person you are caring for needs, the better you can estimate and plan for future costs. Statistically speaking, “72% of seniors aged 85 or older living in the community have high complexity (40%) or medium complexity (33%) chronic conditions” (Office of the Seniors Advocate, BC. 2019, p.3). In other words, you can expect to start paying for services when you are no longer able to live independently without the help from others.
How much eldercare services cost also depends on what services seniors are eligible for through publicly funded sources. Caregivers also take on the brunt of the care responsibilities for their aging loved ones – up to 75% of all care needed is done by unpaid family or friend caregivers and generally, that is either adult children or spouses doing the caregiving. Living close to the person you are caring for generally means the costs of care are lower. But if you are caring from afar or if you are aging and don’t have family nearby, you can expect to incur more costs associated with support and care.
I know what you are thinking, “Why is she evading the question?” It’s hard to give an answer without providing context, especially when it comes to eldercare and caregiving. The range I suggest (all based the 300+clients I’ve served) is $1500 to $4000 per month for eldercare costs, which includes everything from personal care, companionship, home maintenance (external and internal), personal response systems, home and personal adaptation accessories and transportation. The lower end of the range is for individuals with lighter needs (and likely a family caregiver nearby or a couple where one is caring for the other) and the higher end is for more complex needs and/or frailer seniors living alone. There are some seniors and their families that decide to pay for 24-hour care, but those individuals are more the exception, and it is incredibly costly. It’s often not a sustainable model for a long term solution.
Those are high, standard costs, up to $4,000 per month to be budgeting for. Do you see those costs going higher? Why? Why not?
Costs may generally be affected by inflation and cost of living increases, but I think the real issue could be the recent research showing Canadians are increasingly worried about not having adequate financial resources or retirement funds for their senior housing and health care needs. Did you know that 30% of working-age Canadian have no retirement savings and 20% of them have less than $50,000 saved. A recent Seniors Advocate of BC report showed that most seniors with an income of $28,000 can’t afford publicly funded home support. I think it’s less about higher costs and more about planning for having to pay for services to “age at home”.
(Mark to readers: references are linked at the end of this post for further reading.)
Wendy, what should Canadians consider when it comes to elder care? For example, costs associated with personal living assistance vs. full-on retirement home care. Other hidden costs that we simply don’t think about?
I realize this blog is directed at those planning for semi-retirement or retirement like you are, Mark, however, one of the hidden costs we often don’t think about is: supporting our aging loved one’s financial needs. In a recent survey, 47% of Canadians aged 45 years and older said they do not have adequate financial resources to help cover living expenses for their aging loved ones in the next five to ten years (p. 9).
If seniors do need home care costs, they really need to expect to pay out of pocket. Only a little over half of seniors have their home care costs covered solely by the government. And that’s just home care. There are many other areas that seniors need help with that are covered by our home and community heath care systems.
If you are a senior who doesn’t have a family member to care for you locally, you can expect that your costs will be higher. As mentioned above, 75% of all care needed to age in place is done by unpaid family or friend caregivers.
Great information. Is there any insurance coverage that can help Canadians as they age? If so, what ones? What should folks consider such insurance?
Every province is a bit different regarding what their provincial health care plans cover but it’s generally most essential services. These include doctor’s visits and acute services including Emergency Room (although transportation to the hospital often isn’t), hospital stays, hospital dental surgery, etc. However, the provincial plans generally don’t cover services such as dental, prescriptions (only partial), medical equipment and adaptive equipment and other health care services such as physiotherapy, chiropractic, etc.
Some seniors we work with have opted to have long term care insurance. Long term care insurance can cover some of the costs of a care facility or a paid caregiver. Generally, to qualify for benefits, the individual must not be able to perform two or more instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) such as bathing, dressing or eating. A good overview of Long Term Care insurance can be found here.
Others who don’t carry any extended health insurance plans into retirement may decide to continue paying for private health insurance; it can offer a good tax benefit and peace of mind. Travel health insurance is always advised. A great article to read more about insurance in retirement can be found via The Globe and Mail (subscribers only).
Let’s talk about the ability to be mobile. What about transportation to and from appointments or just getting around for day-to-day living? What cost should be considered if you “stay in place” and what transportation factors should super seniors need to consider?
Not being able to drive or walk has a profound impact on independence and well-being. Generally, seniors have some options for transportation. In my experience, the most difficult adjustment is being flexible as most of these options require planning in advance.
- 84% of family and friend caregiver provide support such as transportation which of course costs very little financially. However, the hidden “costs” are the impact on the person providing care. There are some volunteer driver programs too that one can investigate in their communities.
- For some seniors, there is a public transit system designed for seniors who can no longer drive. Here in BC, it’s called HandyDART. It’s not always convenient but it’s affordable – under $6 per roundtrip. There are also publicly funded taxi saver programs which cost seniors half of the regular fare.
- Transportation companies such as companionship services can charge up to $60 per hour with additional costs for mileage. One way to start estimating costs is listing out your trips each month (social, medical, errands, etc) to gauge the number of trips needed per month in the future.
- Scooters and other motorized options could work for some seniors who aren’t able to drive.
If you want to really explore more on the topic – check out Liveable Community Options for Seniors.
Costs to consider to “stay in place” vary by senior. Needs as we age aren’t homogeneous but there are some areas to start. Knowing your fixed costs of living at home and your incoming income are a good place to start! Other areas to consider are gathering intel on costs of transportation, exterior and interior home maintenance, meal preparation, companionship services, assistance with errands, personal safety devices, home adaptation cost, adaptive living accessories and home support needs. I’ve developed an “Aging in Place Checklist” which readers can download if they sign up for my enews.
Wendy, so much ground, as we haven’t even covered how to manage any financial risks as cognitive ability declines for individuals or couples. More to share and think about…. As we wrap, what takeaways do you want to share with Canadians on this important subject?
I’ll put those important points into some bullets, Mark:
- Too many Canadians underestimate their longevity and the costs of care. Budget for an expectation to live to 90 and expect to pay out of pocket for most of your care needs.
- Know the signs of when you or someone needs more help. It’s good to know what normal aging looks like and when you need to be concerned.
- It’s easier said than done – but expect that you’ll need help as you age. We all do. It’s nothing personal, it’s nothing to be ashamed of and it isn’t a judgement of your capacity. Seniors and families who focus on their strengths (especially when faced with age-related changed and losses) and look for ways to supplement their deficits often feel more positive and resilient.
- Get Your Eldercare Affairs in Order or any related publication – which means getting your financial, legal and health care representatives in place as well as having conversations about future care now versus when it’s too late.
- Become informed about housing options for seniors including long term care facilities (nursing homes). Many seniors think when they need 24-hour care, it will be available and provided. We are in a major long term care crisis and shortage and some seniors are having to sell their homes to pay for long term care until a subsidized bed is available. Some seniors or their families are paying privately for 12 months which is anywhere from $7000 to $10,000 a month. It can be considerable.
- Consider shifting your perspective of aging from negative to a natural part of life. In many countries, such as Africa, Japan and Greece, elders are revered, respected and responsible to pass on wisdom and life experiences with younger generations. In more Westernized cultures, we are bombarded with anti-aging solutions to fight the decline of beauty and strength. Consequently, we tend to view aging as a skeleton in the closet – something we are ashamed of or really don’t want to think or talk about. William Thomas is a Gerontologist and author of the book, “What are Old People For: How Elders Will Save the World.” He challenges his readers to re-wire their thinking and see the presence of elders as an essential component in completing our vision of society. A common thread through his book is to see elders offering warmth, wisdom and stewardship to communities and society.
- If you have aging parents, expect to care for them. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. There are some exceptional provincial organizations dedicated to support family caregivers in Canada including, Family Caregivers of BC, Caregivers Alberta, Abilities Manitoba, Ontario Caregiver Organization and Caregivers Nova Scotia.
Wendy, awesome. Thanks for this and I look forward to continuing the discussion on this subject and related subject matter areas over time.
Folks, Wendy is ready to answer any questions in the comments section.
No affiliation, simply food for thought. Thanks again for reading and sharing. I hope this post helped you or your loved ones out.
Further Reading and government references:
Image: courtesy of Pexels and Andrea Piacquadio.
 Office of the Seniors Advocate BC. Home Support: We Can Do Better. 2019. https://www.seniorsadvocatebc.ca/app/uploads/sites/4/2019/06/Report-Home-Support-Review_web.pdf
 Circle of Care: Supporting Family Caregivers in BC. A Policy Paper by BC’s Doctors. October 2016. https://www.doctorsofbc.ca/policy-papers/circle-care-supporting-family-caregivers-bc
 Balancing Paid Work and Caregiving Responsibilities: A Closer Look at Family Caregivers in Canada (2009) and is available at https://www.caregiversns.org/images/uploads/all/working_caregivers_EN.pdf
 Iciaszczyk, N., Feil, C., MacDonald, B.J., Nicin, M., Sinha, S. (2021). Canadian Perspectives on the Financial Realities of Ageing in Place: Practical Considerations, Strategies & the Need for Policy Reform. Toronto, ON: National Institute on Ageing, Ryerson University and HomeEquity Bank.
 CIBC (2018). Am I saving enough to retire? Vast majority of Canadians just don’t know: CIBC poll. Found at: https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/am-i-saving-enough-to-retire-vast-majority-of-canadians-just-dont-know-cibc-poll-673311343.html
 Iciaszczyk, N., Feil, C., MacDonald, B.J., Nicin, M., Sinha, S. (2021). Canadian Perspectives on the Financial Realities of Ageing in Place: Practical Considerations, Strategies & the Need for Policy Reform. Toronto, ON: National Institute on Ageing, Ryerson University and HomeEquity Bank.
 Statistics Canada. (2018). Formal Home Care Use in Canada. Retrieved from: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82- 003-x/2018009/article/00001-eng.htm
 Caregivers in Canada (2018). Can be downloaded at https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/en/daily-quotidien/200108/dq200108a-eng.pdf?st=_3x8vdG1
My mother was lucky enough to live in her own apartment until she was 97. Living in rural Manitoba has its benefits as costs are less. Since she lived so long most of her cash reserve was depleted. We were able to get a small amount of Homecare for mom and I was close by so she relied on me for daily additional care. We have a local assisted living facility which ranges from $1700-2400 month. No nursing care is provided but again home care is available for that. Her plan was to go here but unfortunately she fell and was placed in hospital. After the hospital stay she was about to be placed in a care home. The cost per day was income based and since her annual income was approximately $20,000 (only CPP & OAS) she qualified for the lowest rate – under $50 day. Sadly she passed last month before getting placed. I think that was her wish as she never wanted to go to a care home. We should all be so lucky to live independently and have the resources available to keep us in our homes. It was a drain on me for the last 2 years but a privilege also.
Thanks for sharing your story, DT. 97 is one great age and I think if most of us have our health, we could only be so lucky.
All my best back,
Mark and Wendy, Thank you so much for this article. It is very helpful.
I am single and don’t have children. I expect to be paying for my care out of pocket in my later years. I have found it difficult to estimate what the costs of this would be/could be. I think these costs are always going to be difficult to estimate for planning purposes as I won’t know what my care needs will be until I am faced with them. My current thinking is to sell my condo in my later years and use those proceeds to fund my needs and hope that the proceeds will be sufficient.
I wondered if Wendy had any additional insights to share regarding planning for elder care as a single female. I will take any insights whether they relate to the financial, social or mental or other aspects of elder care. Also, if you could point me in the direction of resources for the province of Ontario, that would be fabulous. Thank you!
Most welcome JF. We’ll consider a follow-up article as well!
As a couple without any kids here, we’ll be paying for everything on our own eventually.
I know for us, we’ll hope to use the sale of any condo to help fund healthcare costs as we age.
Wendy, I think this would be great – a follow-up article on single females related to elder care.
JF, I know Wendy is following the comments and I’m sure she would be happy to chime in about references for Ontario.
Thanks for your comment and readership.
Thank you, Mark, for your response and for considering a follow-up article.
I would love to see a follow-up article. Although I am a single female, I believe the content may be useful to other readers as well.
Let me know if I can help with the article.
I will look out for Wendy’s comments.
I also wanted to thank your other readers for sharing their experiences. Their experiences resonate with me. Both my parents have now passed away. My mother received some at home care and relied on my dad and my sisters for additional care. At the time, the “system” in Ontario was difficult to navigate, had long waiting lists and she really needed a strong advocate to get any care at all. After she passed away, my father remained in their condo but had help from my sisters and I until he had a heart attack. He wasn’t open to the idea of moving to any sort of residence/facility until his heart attack. He then went to a retirement residence for respite care and moved into a one bedroom at the end of his respite stay. I think it cost about $4,000/mth (including all meals, cleaning once a week and activities but excluding laundry, help with showering, administration of medication, etc.,). He never went back to his condo after his first heart attack. His condo needed to be decluttered and sold. I learnt that it is important to have an advocate as both my parents couldn’t advocate for themselves for various reasons when dealing with the “system”, hospitals, retirement homes, etc., I also learnt that if you are single without children/others to help, it may be better to sell your home and move to a retirement home before your care needs dictate this as you may not have the cognitive and physical ability to do this when you are facing health challenges.
I’m sorry for the loss of your parents.
Our system in Ontario is quite broken, after years of underfunding. I suspect our taxes are going to go higher to fund massive demographic shifts already underway.
I can speak for my parents in that they both do not want to leave their home until they have to.
It is my hope we can help fund any home care needs, from my wife and I, but we can’t cover all costs for sure. Thankfully, they’ll have pensions to support them + CPP + OAS. I anticipate costs for one of them per month, for full-on suport, is likely going to be about $6-$7k per month once they need that care if/when the other spouse passes. My parents will have my sister and I for support but my wife and I will have nobody (no kids) to support us.
I can appreciate the daunting feeling as a single and hope to post more information over time. Aging let alone aging in place isn’t really easy for anyone I don’t think – myself included! 🙂
Take good care,
Thank you, Mark.
I agree with you re taxes going higher to fund demographic shifts.
That is very generous of you and your wife to help fund your parents’ home care needs. I hope your parents proactively speak to you and your sister about their wishes so that you know ahead of time what their expectations are. I think $6-$7K per month sounds reasonable for full-on support at a facility in today’s dollars but it is a scary high number to be able to fund!
Thank you again for considering an article from a single perspective. I certainly find it daunting to contemplate this 🙂
Take good care as well.
Thanks very much.
Thanks so much for your question. Yes, you are right, there is no crystal ball and to some degree, estimation is difficult. If I had to give you a guess – the earliest things that you may need assistance with will be things like: home maintenance (inside and out), transportation, running errands, personal emergency response system and someone to support you at medical appointments. I would be looking to factor in the cost of a private geriatric case manager given you don’t have a handy dandy family caregiver at the ready 😉 and having someone who knows you and is trained at advocating for you and your needs (or support you in doing so) would be invaluable. Most of the single females (that don’t have children or only one who lives abroad) that we work with started using services between 78 to 85 years old and because of their situation, they were using services up until they passed away – so anywhere from 5 to 10 years.
Finding a care co-op could be another option as well as finding someone who can help you take stock at regular intervals (at first sign of a challenge/change) or taking a “snapshot” of the current situation is really important as it gives you a baseline from which to compare to. It’s important to continue taking stock or these “snapshots” to help you see those differences and help you understand when to start acting and intervening. These observations, now and in the future, are invaluable and will keep you alert, informed and ready to act and support when necessary and appropriate.
I would start with the Ontario Caregivers Organization as well as researching Care Co-ops or Cooperatives or housing coops for seniors.
Hope this is helpful!
Thanks so much, Wendy, for taking the time to leave this response. Lots of great information here for me to digest.
Where would one start to research a private geriatric case manager? Would they work at an organization such as the Ontario Caregivers Organization.
Thank you again.
You could start with such a search – private+geriatric+care+manager+ontario to see what comes up. These are private companies or individuals; not covered under subsidized health models nor with non profit agencies. They would not work at OCO but they might have resources or recommendations that are Ontario based.
Great article!! Always great to have Plan a, B, and C. While my husband and I are on the younger end of all of this, we do have chronic issues so always great to think ahead. Such great info!
Thanks, Rhonda. I suspect this article is just scratching the surface on this topic and it was my hope to shine some light on this area!
Thanks Rhonda for commenting and yes, contingency planning is always good to have in place 🙂
I can’t stress enough about starting these conversations with your “care team” even if it isn’t established yet as it really helps to continue evaluating the situation.
Good work Mark and Wendy, very informative. I would assume it’s still a very long time until I would need this but it’s always good to plan ahead.
My retirement plan does not include our house that is already paid off. So when the time comes, the plan is to sell the house to pay the cost for the care homes. And hopefully our kids can help with the transition at that time as I am certain it will become pretty difficult for us to do that at that stage.
When I think about this, maybe what I should do really is borrowing from HELOC and invest in DGI stocks if dividends can cover the interest. When I finally sold the house, let’s say 20 years from now, I can repay the debt right away, maybe also with some extra cash (only 65% I can borrow on the asset). And the dividends should have grown to a size that can pay for all the care cost at that time.
Good plan, re: the plan is to sell the house to pay the cost for the care homes.
Same here, but we’ll try and age in place as much as we can! You never know.
Thnaks for the kind words,
We definitely want to stay at home as long as we could too. But eventually have to go to a care home I guess.
Totally, I could see that.
I like your plan May. We decided on this about 10 years ago. I’m 76 and my wife is 73 so it could happen anytime. Hopefully assisted living at first and then government nursing home in the end. One of our friends (80) is in a retirement home that has assisted leaving but for now she feels like she’s on a cruise ship. I think she’s paying about $3800. Per month. Not bad as it includes everything but her wine! 😁
That’s quite good, Gary, all things considered. Good for your friend who has care 🙂
Although a regular reader of Mark’s blog, I do not typically comment on the articles. However, I decided to make an exception here because I do have some experience in this area (I apologize in advance for the length of my comment!).
Like JP above, mine is a Manitoba experience, and largely mirrors what JP wrote. My parents moved into an assisted living facility in Winnipeg in 2016. It was a two-bedroom unit, and I think the facility can fairly be described as one of the nicer ones in Winnipeg. The cost was just under $5,000 a month, or just under $60,000 annually. Those costs are entirely borne by the individuals, and therefore my parents were free to select the assisted living facility of their choice, subject to affordability and availability. When my father passed away in 2018, my mother moved into a one-bedroom suite in the same assisted living facility. The cost of that unit was about $3,500 per month, or about $42,000 annually.
In early 2021, my mother’s needs became such that she needed to be moved to a personal care home. This process was very much a learning experience for me and my siblings, as unbeknownst to us, it was very different than the assisted living choice. We had assumed (incorrectly as it turned out) that my mom would be able to select the care home of her choice, again subject to affordability and availability. However, as JP noted above, in Manitoba personal care homes are publicly funded to some degree, and your ability to choose is extremely limited (meaning essentially nil). You are technically able to select one personal care of your choice prior to being placed, but the waiting lists for the more desirable facilities are exceptionally long. As result, at the time of placement, assuming your care home of choice is full (which it almost certainly will be), and assuming you do not have the luxury of waiting for space to open at the home of your choice, you will be placed in the home which has room on that day. After placement you can elect to leave your name on a wait list for the faculty of your choice, but movement on the wait list is very slow. In my mom’s case, she has remained on a wait list since January 2021, although at this point it is unlikely she would want to move even if a spot opened up.
As JP noted, the cost of personal care homes in Manitoba is to some extent net income based. The charge is calculated on a daily fee basis, and as of 2021 ranged from approximately $40/day (about $1.200/month) up to a maximum of approximately $96/day (or about $3,000 per month). Note that the daily fee amount same is the same regardless of which care home the individual resides. The highest daily rate of $96/day is the cost for anyone who meets or exceeds the maximum net annual income level (I don’t have the exact maximum annual income amount, but it is the neighborhood of $40,000).
Again, apologies for the length of this post, which I am sure would make Herman Melville blush…
Bart – thanks so much for your personal experience and the details specific to Manitoba. You are a human after my own heart – great information sometimes requires a lengthy post 🙂 Yours really highlights the importance of understand how the health care system works, how subsidized home support and housing works (and the costs to the individual), eligibility and how to navigate it all. Every province is different – it’s really important for readers to understand their specific region/province or for the person they are caring for.
Great article Wendy, Mark! How grateful I am for my sisters, brothers and in-laws who are taking care of my mom and my wife’s mom, both in their 90s. Both moms live in Quebec while we are in Ontario. Fortunately both had homes to sell which finance their care homes. But, as Wendy suggests, there is an un-calculable value to family’s time and energy of getting our loved seniors from the able to the no-longer able transition. So, so much to do!! As my wife says, (and told her mom) if there is anything left over, “I hope the sister who’s doing most of the work gets more then the rest of us.”
Thanks for your kind words, Paul!
Yes, very fortunate to have homes to sell and we hope to be in the same position if needed over time. The un-calculable costs are huge!
Thanks Paul for weighing in and highlighting the invaluable contributions of family caregiver.
“We don’t know what we don’t know” so having input from reader’s experiences are always helpful.
Your family sounds incredibly compassionate and caring – lucky Moms 🙂
In my early 70’s reading anything about retirement/nursing homes just gives me even more incentive to look after my own health. In my own mind health is like money. Nobody out there is going to look after it better than you. Just like with money where you may have a portfolio of assets, when it comes to health you may have your very own personal portfolio of what you consider healthy food options that you eat most days with some exercise thrown in.. I doubt there are too many (if any) of these institutions whether public or private that will cater to your own food preferences.
Hint: If you’re inclined, at the very least, you may want to consider reading Canada’s new food guide.
Yes, healthy eating and exercise help for sure. But, genetically things can be predetermined. The point of my article is that money only goes so far and you need to be financially, mentally, and emotionally prepared for many things in life. Not easy!
Thanks for your comment and continued success on your health and diet!
Absolutely a good point DividendOn…a little more FOOD for thought (sorry, had to)…successful aging absolutely includes nutrition and consider these three broad areas:
Minimize risk of disease and disability – in other words – self-manage those areas you can control through healthy living, medications if necessary, managing stress, etc
* Continue engagement with life – mingle with others, stay connected socially, spiritually and with your community, do things that “feed your soul”, try something new, adapt something that is no longer working for you
* Maintain physical and cognitive connections: move and groove every day, keep your mind active and engaged, have interesting conversations, learn something new.
Something else to chew on 😉
Hi Mark and Wendy; I’m finding myself in that category now. I’ve got arthritis in my left hip, and I think it is migrating to the right one. I’ve got balance problems but at 74 I still consider myself young. I’m quite aware of transportation problems as I am an epileptic and was uncontrolled until I was 31 so from 16 to 34 is a long time to be without a car in prime driving time. Both my parents went fairly quickly although dad took about 6 months. Every night he would figure out his net worth on the back of an envelope and then get his bank books and add the total amount. One night he is doing this, and I hear a crash. He was attempting to put the bottom drawer of the silver cabinet back in when he lost his balance, so he put the drawer back down on a hassock and stood back up, but he was too quick and lost his balance, and slammed into a large stereo falling over on his side. I tried to help him, but he waved me away saying that this was more serious. He had broken his hip and couldn’t move. We finally got him to the hospital, and he was heavily sedated. He was operated on for a new hip and hospitalized. Now came the counseling to find a place for dad to go. After therapy to dad to walk which failed, he ended up in Extendicare. Like all places like that there was a flu going through the building and I was not allowed to visit. Finally, I get a call and they say I can come in. I said I thought there was a virus going through the place and they said that it would be okay for me to come in because my dad was not doing well. The next time I saw him he was in palliative and his leg had turned black. A while later I get the call that he has passed and did I want to come in to sit with the body. I said no as I’m not one to think about spirits in the room. While at Extendicare I think the costs were around $1500.00- $2500.00/ month.
Sorry to hear about your dad, Ronald. I suspect if more comments come in, you’re not alone sadly. Thanks for taking the time to share and I appreciate your readership.
Oh Ronald, I’m so sorry to read your story; that’s a tough one to read and yet, we know it’s not an uncommon story. Thank you for sharing your story with others.
Super information, and a topic that people should really take seriously. Early diagnose will make a big difference, and provide the family time to prepare and consider the options available to them. Too often one assumes they can just place one in a care facility, and unfortunately that’s what too many do. I’m not suggesting that most care facilities don’t have good intentions, but many, if not most, don’t have the staff to properly provide the care each person needs. No care facility can provide 24 hour assistance, and often the clients are only attended to four or five times a day. The best care is provided by caregivers at home, provided they are able (physically and mentally) and can afford to hire the extra assistance needed. I’d up the cost of home care to $2,500 to $4,500
Care facilities will cost in the range of $5,000 to $8,000 a month, depending upon the facility. I don’t know what the provincial one’s charge, but likely about half.
These are all great points Henry and thank you for sharing your experiences. I wish we could do a webinar on this topic as we could get into all the nuances 🙂 I don’t disagree with you re: home is best but I do feel the need to stress that home is only best when caregivers are properly supported – with respite, emotional support, etc.
I appreciate your input on the costs – I suppose again it really depends on the situation doesn’t it? My rationale for the lower range end was that often the IADLs (instrumental activities of daily living) are the ones where seniors start having the most difficulty with – outdoor home maintenance, indoor home maintenance, meal preparation, shopping, etc. These generally require less time per week than ongoing regular care. So you might end up only needing about 2-3 hours of support per week for a few years prior to then needing more support and care as needs change.
Here in BC, care facilities that are subsidized cost 80% of your monthly income and there will be cap based on income. Assisted living or Independent living costs will vary (ranging anywhere from 3,900 to $5,500 depending on support required) and yes, private care homes are very very expensive. It’s important to look at the average age of residents as well as their average length of stay.
I recommend anyone wanting more information on care facilities to see if their province has a Seniors Advocate or if the Ministry of Health that reviews the standards of facilities. Those are super helpful documents to review and also provide average number of care hours per resident, etc.
Great food for thought; so appreciate your plug for planning early and often 🙂 Avoid a crisis if possible!
Thanks very much, Henry. Money can help aging or aging in place but money only solves some problems so far.
Great article, I’m from Manitoba and have my father in law in personal care its been close to 5 years now and my mom is in assisted living . In manitoba personal care is government funded and you pay a percentage of your income not personal wealth . If you have a pension you will pay more . But everyone recieves the same care but family’s are important for all personal needs . My mom is in a one bedroom suite at a assisted living she gets light house keeping and meals are prepared and served in a dinning room . In her place there is tons of activities and 24 hr staff not nurses . She gets homecare to help with things like showering and medication . The assisted living cost $3800 a month . This is about mid grade I’ve seen places above 6000 a month . Yes I believe we need to prepare for these costs and everyone should understand the difference between assisted living and personal care . And of course a retirement complex which normally is higher scale yet . The pandemic put the spot light on personal care but honestly it has been in a crisis for years . It will shock you the first time you walk into some . They are not all the same even tho I believe funding is the same .
Thank you so much for sharing your experience Jp. Stories like yours are so helpful for others to read. Your life sounds very busy with caregiving and I hope you have a good circle of support. You are bang on – just because a loved one is in care or in assisted living, family caregivers are vital and pick up so many needs. Being prepared to know what each level of care is providing by different housing types is a great recommendation for readers; thank you for bringing that to light.
Yes, depending on the province, I could see costs close to $6k per month. That is not a trival expense for sure.
“The pandemic put the spot light on personal care but honestly it has been in a crisis for years.”
Totally agree. We need to be prepared for more under-funding I believe.
Thanks for sharing your personal story too.
Hi Mark and Wendy,
I wrote two posts one being, What to expect in Long-Term care home in Ontario and long-term care home expenses to expect based on personal experiences. It was an emotional ride for my wife’s family whose mother was diagnosed with early-onset dementia. Nobody knew for many years but she had to have known.
She went downhill quickly once she was diagnosed and after being removed from her home and sent to the hospital. Had she not had the home paid for we’d have to pay out of pocket for the extra expenses the government does not cover via her pensions.
It was also a massive struggle to find her a room so she was stuck in the hospital, and transferred out of the city for three hours to an LTC home that would take her until we got her into a home where she spent her entire life. Unfortunately, if there are no beds they stay in the hospital in a locked ward or are sent out to any city that has an open bed.
We had to make phone calls and write letters to the mayor to get her back to her hometown. The cost to transport her was $400 one way and if she has to go to the hospital in the city she needs a PSW so we pay for the transportation and the PSW.
There are many costs that are not covered especially if there is no health insurance. For anyone who has no family to help take care of them if something like this were to happen be prepared. Originally we hired someone to help her get out for walks and groceries, and to be her caregiver part-time, and even though that cost a fortune and didn’t work in the end as she declined.
We’ve been through the wringer and back but now she’s settled in three years later but no longer remembers who we are. Nobody thinks something like early onset dementia can happen but it can just like any other disease. It’s grand planning for the future but equally important to plan for something out of our control such as health problems.
Two things we’ve learned – get that Will and Power of Attorney done and prepare for what you think your glorious retirement might look like to be the complete opposite. I feel for the families who struggle to help aging seniors in their lives or in a nursing home or LTC home.
Anyways, I can talk forever on this topic so I blogged about it if you want to know more about what happened.
Oh wow Mr. CBB – what a story! Thank you for sharing and all your extra tidbits. Super helpful for readers!! And I’m looking forward to reading your blogs 🙂
Thank you so much for brining up the Power of Attorney – if can be so bold, I would suggest getting a Health Care Directive as well – sometimes it’s easier to get all three done – POA, Rep agreement (covers health and personal care decisions) and your will. Nidus is a fantastic resource for us living in BC and worth a read. Advanced care directives are also key and usually discussed with your family doctor.
Thanks for sharing Mr. CBB. Not easy for you and family, and your mom.
It is my hope my parents will take some initiative with myself and my sister to seriously walk-through things in the coming years, well in advance of anything coming into effect.
Take good care,
Great interview Mark and Wendy. Thanks for all the excellent information. I have elderly parents and this will be a useful help and I’m going to look into the resources available you mentioned here in my home Province.
Great stuff, Deane 🙂
So glad you found the information helpful! Thanks for reading!