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Life Stages: Retirement


    The basics of long-term care

    4 min read

    As life expectancies have increased over the decades, more and more people are contemplating the quality of life of those extra years. You may have considered if one day you may need some type of long-term care. What would that look like? How will that affect your finances?

    The degree of care required will vary from person to person, and will vary over time for an individual as well. Assistance with the daily activities of living may be required for some or all of the following at some point: bathing, dressing, eating, transportation, and using the washroom.

    Various levels of care (and cost)

    In-home care can be provided by family and friends, or it can be handled by professionals. Whether you are able to maintain living at home, as many people desire, or you live in a retirement home or long-term care home, it’s important to factor in the financial costs and that the impact on your loved ones’ time may progressively increase over time. Lower income individuals may be able to have healthcare professional services covered by the government. Others may get partially subsidized, while private care is also an option.

    Home services health professionals can provide nursing care, healthy eating consulting, various types of therapy (physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy), and supplies required for home healthcare. The services can range from help transferring from bed to sitting areas, grooming, dressing, toileting, and more. And again, in some cases family or friends may be providing the care.

    There are various community services that may also play a role for those who are continuing to live at home. These services include social and fitness programs, transportation services, hospice services, and end-of-life care in a more home-like environment where possible.

    Long-term care facilities are regulated by the provincial Ministry of Health and Long-term care. These facilities are designed to provide a place of living where residents have access to care and will have assistance with much of their daily activities. Costs can be subsidized by the government for those with low income, otherwise the current rates vary from just over $1,800 per month to around $2,600 per month depending on the room type.

    Retirement homes are different. These privately-owned residences are for people who require little assistance. Retirement homes are regulated by the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority, not the Ministry of Health and Long-term care. There are no subsidies available, and costs vary widely with lower cost options that can be cheaper than long-term care facilities to more luxuries homes that are up to $6,000 per month or more.

    Respite care

    For those requiring care, and where the caregiver is a friend or family member, there is a chance that they’ll need to take a break (for various possible reasons). That’s where respite care may come into play. Caregivers who are spending more and more time taking care of someone may be making large sacrifices in order to do so. They may be missing work, not able to attend to their own families, or simply burning out. Respite care is a means for caregivers to take a temporary break while a respite worker fills in. It’s also possible to have respite care provided at a long-term care home if the caregiver has to be away, or the care requirements are extensive.

    Power of Attorney, living wills, and advance directives

    There are numerous terms all relating to the healthcare decisions to be made for you if you become incapacitated or unable to make decisions for yourself. In Ontario, a Power of Attorney is a legal document which names someone (the “attorney”) to make decisions on your behalf (note that this person does not have to be a lawyer). Within this document, you may choose to list your specific wishes about what healthcare decisions you would like, such that the attorney knows what you would like. The “living will” refers to the information that spells out your wishes, and this can be part of the Power of Attorney or completed without assigning a Power of Attorney. A living will is also sometimes called an “advanced directive”. It’s important to seek out a qualified legal opinion if you have questions on this topic.
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