Most Canadians are more prepared for death than old age. Surveys of senior Canadians consistently find that many have prepared financial affairs for after their deaths, but have put little thought into their finances and living situation in the event that they become unable to care for themselves.
Canadians are far more likely to have taken care of one-time costs such as creating wills and even pre-arranging funerals, but very few had made financial plans for old age - even though the cost of a nursing home and health care for seniors far surpasses the one-time cost of creating a will or buying a burial plot.
This raises an important issue: how will Canada's "silver tsunami" cope, especially in light of our trained health care system and weak economy?
At a recent conference, BC health minister Michael de Jong stated that the government may not be able to spend as much as needed on health care, and will start to focus on preventative measures.
Financial advisors and professionals in the care industry strongly recommend that seniors have open discussions with their families early on about their financial plan and map out options ahead of time, such as home services so that they can continue living comfortably at home or with relatives.
A bed in a private care facility can cost thousands of dollars a month. living at home or with relatives will very likely be the best and most monetarily viable option for seniors with little time to plan ahead.
"It is inevitable that the health of many people in this age group will deteriorate at some point in the future, creating a need for support, different living arrangements, or both," said Chris Clark, Vancouver director for Bayshore Home Health, a company specializing in in-home care for seniors.
Bayshore offers free funding investigations, working with insurance companies and the government to determine what resources are available for clients based on their needs and finances (www.bayshore.ca).
For seniors considering home care as an option, Clark recommends that seniors sit down with their families to plan financially for costs like home modification (installing railings and safety bars), regular cleaners and home visits from care professionals. He notes that these services can be funded privately or publicly through government care programs, personal and group insurance plans and workplace safety insurance, depending on the financial situation of the individual.
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