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Chapter 5 - How much is this going to cost my parents?

There’s Cost - And Then There’s Value
“Can I even afford this?”

We’ve been waiting for this question. Because as good as it all sounds, everything comes with a price.

There’s a great misconception that senior care is free, and that the government covers all the costs. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. You will get some government funding for home care or long term care, but you’ll usually have to pay part of the cost. For retirement residences, it’s generally all on you. These costs can range widely, and calculating them requires some skilful accounting.

But before you start figuring out ballpark costs, we’ve got a question for you: what do you value? Costs related to a lifestyle change such as this are much more complex than what you’ll see on a spreadsheet. There are many things to consider, so let’s examine a few of them.
What do you value? Costs related to a lifestyle change such as this are much more complex than what you’ll see on a spreadsheet.

Home Care Costs

Let’s assume your mom or dad is in a house, and that it’s mortgage-free. All that’s left are the taxes, insurance, general upkeep, utility bills and their monthly expenses. They’re eligible for home care, and now a few hours a week, someone comes by to help with shopping, laundry and other stuff. In between those visits, you and your siblings also pop by and helps where you can. So far, so good.

This continues for a few years, and in that time you get a new job, and you just can’t stop by as often. They’re finding they could use a bit more help, but the funding won’t cover the extra hours, so they’re paying a private provider for additional care that ranges between $25 and $100 dollars an hour for more complex care services. There are special programs for lower incomes, if they qualify, which help people age at home, but those don’t necessarily cover everything.

Then there’s the house itself. It’s in good shape, but they’re spending most of their time on the main floor, avoiding the stairs. It needs some accessibility upgrades: a lift for the stairs, a chair in the tub and handrails. These upgrades cost a few thousand. You’re also paying someone to cut the grass, remove the snow and do odd jobs around the house to keep things in order. But it means they can stay home.

These are the obvious costs of home care. But there’s also the social side to consider. If they’re surrounded by friends and neighbours, then they may not wish to make a move. But if they’re finding themselves spending much of their time alone — their closest friends no longer living nearby, their family spread out — then it’s time to weigh the cost of staying home with cost of other options.

Retirement Living Costs

When your loved one chooses to live in a retirement community, they also have the opportunity to choose which suite they like and which services and care options they need. All of these choices help determine how much they pay; for most seniors living at a Revera retirement home it works out to about $3,000 - $5,500 per month. Revera also has some retirement residences that cost more per month, for those looking for a luxury experience.

Retirement living is a welcome, affordable option for seniors who no longer want to worry about the upkeep or expenses associated with maintaining their home. In a retirement home, your loved one not only has a suite of their own that they’ve chosen, they have delicious meals, social activities, a thriving environment and the ability to let someone else think about mundane tasks like cleaning, so that they can focus on what matters to them most. You also have the comfort of knowing that they have access to the care and support they need to manage their health, through onsite or visiting care professionals. In some cases, you can also choose to bring in government-funded or private services for them.

Long Term Care Costs

There’s a misconception that long term care is free. It’s not. The cost of long term care is actually shared by the government – who pays for everything to do with care – and the resident, who typically pays for accommodation. In long term care, residents are provided with basic furnishings as well, including a bed, bedside table and chair.

The monthly accommodation fee varies depending on the province, and is set by the government. Generally, they can expect to pay somewhere in the range of $1,000 to $3,000 per month, depending on the province, their income, the accommodation type and how old the building is. Some provinces may be able to provide more financial support for lower income residents.

Long term care homes provide seniors who are no longer able to live independently with more care, available 24/7, for complex chronic conditions or cognitive challenges. With on-staff health professionals and programs like rehabilitation, wound care and specialized dementia care, it can be the right place for those who need high levels of care. As we discussed earlier, they won’t have the regular monthly expenses of managing their own home and should consider that when considering the cost of long term care.

Like most things in life, no matter which direction that’s taken, cost is a factor in senior living. Your mom or dad’s situation, their needs, their choices, are unique to them. How much it all costs will be unique too. Where the costs and the value that their choice brings to their life meet - that is the sweet spot.