We hear this question often. Because as good as retirement living 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. Provincial governments generally provide some funding for home care and for long term care, but you’ll usually have to pay at least part of the cost. For retirement homes, it’s generally all on you. These costs can range widely, so it's a good idea to do your homework.
But before you start figuring out ballpark costs, we’ve got a question: what is most valued? 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.
Home Care and the Unexpected Costs
For a variety of reasons, some seniors choose to stay in their home as long as possible. If that’s what works for right now, that’s okay. But if one of the reasons for staying at home is the concern about the cost of moving into senior living, the reality may surprise you.
Let’s assume someone is living in a house, and it’s mortgage-free. All that’s left to pay are the taxes, insurance, general upkeep, utility bills and monthly expenses. The house itself may be in good shape, but if a senior is spending most of the time on the main floor, avoiding the stairs because of mobility concerns, the home may need some accessibility upgrades. A lift for the stairs, a chair in the tub, handrails: all of these are upgrades that could cost a few thousand dollars. Someone may be needed to cut the grass, remove the snow and do odd jobs around the house to keep things in order.
Then there’s care – as needs evolve, there may be a need for more support. While home care is an option, it’s worth considering what this means. Generally speaking, if you use funded government support services, those agencies decide who receives care, the number of care hours required, and for how long. There are often special programs for people with lower incomes (if an individual qualifies), but keep in mind these don’t necessarily cover everything. If more help is needed and the funding doesn’t cover the hours, a private care provider may have to be hired and paid for.
These are the obvious costs of remaining in the home. There’s also the social side to consider. How close are friends and neighbours? Or is there a lot of time alone — with closest friends no longer living nearby and family spread out. It is important to weigh the cost of staying home with the cost of other options, like moving into a retirement home.
Retirement Living and the Managed Cost Approach
Living in a retirement community means the resident can choose their suite, services and care options. All of these choices help determine how much is paid; for most seniors living in a retirement home, it works out to about $3,000 - $5,500 per month. Some retirement residences cost more per month, for those looking for a luxury experience. Be sure to shop around to find the best option within your budget.
Retirement living is a welcome, affordable option for seniors who no longer want to worry about the upkeep or expenses associated with maintaining a home. In a retirement home, residents have a suite of their own that they’ve chosen, delicious meals, social activities, a thriving environment, and the ability to let someone else think about mundane tasks like cleaning, so that the focus is on what matters most. There is also the comfort of knowing that access to the care and support is there when needed to manage health concerns, through onsite or visiting care professionals. In some cases, government-funded or private services can be brought in.
Long Term Care and the Subsidized Costs
The costs of long term care are shared by the resident and the government. Typically, residents pay for their accommodations, while the government covers the costs of things like care, food, programming and certain medications. Some provinces offer private pay options.
Rates for all types of long term care accommodations are established by the provincial government; rate subsidies may be available for ward accommodation. The range for the resident accommodation portion is typically between $1,000 and $3,000 per month, depending on factors such as type of room, the province, income and the age of the facility. In some provinces, lower-income residents may be eligible for additional financial support. For information, please contact the appropriate provincial agency.
Keep in mind what long term care homes offer – available around-the-clock care for people with complex chronic conditions and/or cognitive challenges such as dementia in a safe and secure environment.
No matter the direction, cost is a factor in senior living. Specific situations, needs, choices are unique to everyone. Where the costs and the value your choice brings to life meet – that is the sweet spot.