5 ways you can cut the cost of care in old age

Most seniors move through a continuum of care as they need more help with daily tasks. If you or a relative needs to go into care, make an informed choice and know how to get the best deals. Here are five ways you can keep costs down at each level of care.

5 ways you can cut the cost of care in old age

1. Get affordable help to stay at home

It's definitely more cost-effective for elderly people to stay in their homes rather than paying for long-term care, and most seniors prefer that option.

  • While it often involves a bit of work, you can patch together help from a variety of public and private sources that will allow you (or an aging parent) to stay at home as long as possible.
  • All provinces offer a similar range of services, including nursing, household help, Meals-On-Wheels and respite services.
  • Many offer physiotherapy and occupational therapy as well.
  • Costs vary depending on the service and how much help you need.

2. Better deals on assisted living

Retirement homes encourage independent living, and they run the gamut from glitzy country-club type affairs down to no-frills residences.

  • Better deals are sometimes available in areas where real estate prices are low. One luxurious North Bay retirement facility charged $1,700 to $3,500 a month for units that would command a much higher price in Toronto.
  • And there may be some room to negotiate on price, so if you or a parent have a limited budget that is slightly lower than a facility's monthly fee, don't hesitate to ask for a reduction. It may be well worth it in both the short term and the long run.

3. Subsidies for long-term care facilities

Government subsidies are available for long-term care throughout Canada.

  • Bear in mind that they're based on income and they generally provide only for a wardroom shared with other residents.
  • Ontario offers assistance when residents cannot afford the basic ward rate, but semi-private and private rooms aren't covered. Monthly rates are about $900 to $1,400 for ward, $1,600 for semi-private and $1,900 for private.
  • In Quebec, prices range from $812 for a bed in a ward to $1,307 for private accommodation.
  • Don't worry about outliving your money. The province picks up the tab if your life savings are depleted.

4. Assets are not included

Seniors are expected to contribute financially to their care from their ongoing income, whether that be OAS and CPP, or earnings from stocks and bonds and other investments.

  • Generally, assets are not taken into account.
  • What that means is that seniors will not be forced to sell the family home in order to pay their health care bills.

5. Separate your incomes and save

  • If your partner needs to move into a long-term care home, you will find your income suddenly cut in half at a time when you face increasing bills for care.
  • Too often, the person left at home scrapes by at a poverty level.
  • To avoid being left short, you can apply for an involuntary separation from Canada Pension Plan.
  • This doesn't mean that you're not married anymore, simply that your finances are separate so you're entitled to a little more cash.

Explore your options and spend your golden years in comfort by following these tips. For more information, call Social Development Canada at 1-800-277-9914 (English) or 1-800-277-9915 (French).

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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