The Cost Of Caring For Aging Parents In Canada

The Cost Of Caring For Aging Parents In Canada

For families and individuals who have an older adult in their lives to take care of, associated severe long-term car

For families and individuals who have an older adult in their lives to take care of, associated severe long-term care costs and obligations can prove to be both astronomical and daunting.

Every year, taking care of aging parents costs Canadians an estimated $33 billion in expenditures. As the population ages, this number is expected to increase. More Canadians will be forced to become carers for their aging parents or loved ones, and they may not be financially prepared. 

There are many financial implications of caregiving. There are also many hidden costs that caregivers don't think about when they begin. For instance, buying specialized equipment for care receivers who require assistance with activities of daily living such as mobility, toileting and bathing can be extremely expensive -- but necessary. Caregivers may have to purchase this equipment themselves or depend on family members or friends. If caregivers are unable to purchase or rent the necessary equipment, they may have no choice but to leave their loved ones alone during the day while they go to work.

Caring for an older adult can require a lot of time, commitment, and energy. Eligibility for government-sponsored care services or benefits can be extremely difficult to determine -- even more so if the individual being cared for resides in another province or country. In addition to the potential financial and physical demands of caregiving, there are also a variety of emotional and social challenges that can affect both the caregiver and the care receiver -- especially if they live together or frequently interact.

The challenge for caregivers is to provide the best possible care under circumstances that could be less than ideal, and it can take a toll on an individual's mental and physical well-being. However, there are some options and resources which offer promising potential.

Here, we'll go over some important points relating to the financial and emotional costs related to caring for a senior, and what options are available.

Assisted Living Costs for the Elderly

The expenses of living in a senior living retirement community will differ considerably based on a number of factors. On average, monthly rent in retirement communities cost from $1,453 to $4,500 (and higher) across Canada. It is influenced by the size and location of accommodation, as well as the type of community and quantity of amenities available.

It's not just the cost of rent that needs to be considered. The monthly fee also includes amenities such as three meals a day, housekeeping services and activities programs. In addition, each community has its own "additional costs" which vary from one establishment to another. These additional costs can include items such as laundry services or cable television. Other factors that can affect the monthly cost of living in a retirement community are the number of people sharing one apartment, the size of the apartment and if it has wheelchair accessibility.

Taking Care of an Elderly Person at Home

The costs associated with living at home can vary depending on the needs of your parents.

For most seniors living at home, there are a number of expenses associated with their care. These include groceries, prescriptions and medical supplies or equipment needed for comfort.

For instance, if your parent has difficulty bathing or getting around the house, you may need to install assistive devices or systems. For example, if your parents have trouble getting up their stairs, you could need to add a stair lift. Or, if they’re having trouble bathing, you may need to install a walk-in shower or walk-in bathtub. These upgrades can add thousands to one's expenses and are essential to consider when opting to take care of the elderly at home.

If you cannot personally tend to the senior's needs on a day to day basis, you may want to consider hiring a caregiver for them.

If you hire an aide or nurse, these expenses can vary widely depending on their experience and hourly rate. For example, a certified nursing assistant (CNA) can cost around $20/hour while a licensed practical nurse (LPN) can cost more than $30/hour. When hiring a caregiver, it is important to ensure the person you choose has training and experience in caring for seniors (and specifically, your parents). If possible, speak with former clients of the potential caregiver to ensure they are trustworthy, reliable and properly trained.

If you take care of them yourself instead of hiring a nurse or aide, this will reduce the cost. However, the costs of making modifications to your home may still apply.

What are the Daily Expenses of Seniors?

Seniors often have the same daily expenses as any other adult. However, seniors often have extra costs associated with their needs and medications. It is not unusual for a senior to spend $100 on groceries per week, as well as extra few dollars on prescriptions each month. In addition, many seniors will opt for home-delivered meals rather than grocery shopping or cooking.

In addition to groceries and prescriptions, some seniors may also have a number of additional expenses. Some often-overlooked costs include:

  • Extra nutrients - high-protein foods, vitamins, supplements
  • Driving or transportation to doctors’ appointments or physical therapy sessions
  • Transportation to and from grocery stores or other places they may need to go
  • Home care services, including housekeeping, meal preparation, laundry and transportation
  • Medical equipment or supplies needed for their aid or comfort (e.g., canes)
  • Additional medical expenses - due to the high cost of some medications and treatments, seniors may require more than the usual amount of medication.

The Hidden Cost Of Caregiving

The financial cost of caregiving is well understood, but the emotional and physical stress that comes with extended caregiving are frequently overlooked.

It is not unusual for the primary caregiver to experience some type of depression throughout the course of caregiving. Caregivers frequently neglect themselves and their health as they focus on caring for their loved ones.

Caregiving can be very taxing on one's health. It is important to take time out of your daily schedule to care for yourself. You can do this by seeking help from friends and family members, joining a caregiver support group or visiting a counselor.

If you feel as if you are becoming overwhelmed with your caregiving responsibilities, don't be afraid to reach out to others for help. Sometimes family members may be too busy with work or their own personal commitments to assist with the care of a loved one. This is where community and extended family members can come in and provide the necessary assistance, so you don't become too overwhelmed with stress and fatigue.

Be proactive when it comes to your health as a caregiver. Make positive lifestyle choices such as eating well, exercising regularly, getting plenty of sleep and asking for help from others. These proactive choices can help you to be healthier and stronger as a caregiver, so you can continue to provide the necessary care for your loved one.

The demands of caregiving vary for each family and are determined by the state of health of a loved one. Limited assistance with routine domestic activities is all that may be required for someone who is mobile, meaning they can move about easily. On the other hand, some families might need more specialized assistance with more complicated tasks or even round-the-clock supervision to ensure physical, mental, and financial security. The amount of caregiving needed is often determined by the severity of the illness and how far along the disease continuum a loved one's condition has progressed. Fortunately, there are resources available to help caregivers through this difficult time.

Caregiving may be difficult, but there are many resources available to assist family caregivers. This includes assistance with financial, emotional, and mental health issues.

Financial Resources

The financial burden may be tough for family caregivers, but they can use the following resources.

  • The Ontario Caregiver Association
  • The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care Assistive Devices Program
  • The Old Age Security (OAS) program
  • Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)
  • Canada Pension Plan (CPP)
  • Disability Tax Credit
  • Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB) Program
  • Assistive Devices Program (ADP)
  • Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program
  • Local Health Integration Network (LHIN)

Emotional and Mental Health Resources

Caregivers may be emotionally strung out at times and can seek assistance from accessible resources.

Taking care of an elderly loved one can be not only difficult but very costly. In order to manage these costs, it is best for you and your family to plan ahead. It may be a good idea to start an emergency fund in case an unexpected cost arises. You can also apply for government programs designed specifically to help people finance their care.

The most important factor in caregiving is planning ahead -- even before the time of need actually arises. Families should educate themselves on what to expect from an aging relative, which services are available and how they can be accessed.

There are many resources available to help family caregivers. It is important to understand the resources and support systems in your community, including financial assistance for caregiving expenses. Having the best network in place will assist you in making the process as stress-free as possible and likewise offer the potential for increased well being for everyone involved.

This article offers general information only and is not intended as medical or other professional advice. A healthcare provider should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed, and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products, or services is expressly given or implied by Mednow or its affiliates.

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