What will you do for long term care?
One of the challenges with demographic trends is that they tend to fly under the radar until they are suddenly upon us.
Ensuring there is adequate care for our aging population is a prime example. The oldest members of the baby boom generation are now in their early 70s, and for the most part haven’t made their way into retirement homes and long term care. In short, there’s no problem so far.
But fast forward 10 years and we may see the issue. According to the Conference Board of Canada, more than 2.4 million Canadians aged 65 or more will require paid and unpaid care support by 2026. That’s 71% more than required care in 2011. By 2046, that number is expected to rise to 3.3 million people, which is almost 10% of Canada’s current population. You can read more about the demographic trends here.
The prognosis is clear: the demand on the health care sector and assisted care facilities is only going to increase. And there is bound to be a lag in government response because governments will always deal first with any crisis at hand before dealing with future needs. For example, there is typically overcrowding in schools before new schools are built. Long term care will likely be no different.
The question is, what can each of us do on an individual basis to plan for the care we might need?
What’s your plan?
Since none of us can predict the future, the safest course of action is to assume that you will need care at some stage of your later life. According to the Ontario Long Term Care Association, the average age of a long term care resident is 85, with 90% of residents having some form of cognitive impairment and one in three using a wheelchair. There is a very real chance that you will be in that situation some day.
So what can you do now? If you’re a baby boomer, there are a few steps you can take to increase your opportunity for adequate care if you should need it. These include:
- Having a power of attorney for both finances and personal care
- Ensuring you have a guaranteed income stream in your later years (such as annuities or pensions). For example, you may want to defer your receipt of Canada Pension Plan payments as late as possible (age 70) to maximize your guaranteed income in later years
- Considering products such as long term care insurance that can pay a benefit if you need care.
New products might also emerge. This recent article in the Globe and Mail discusses longevity insurance – a deferred annuity that pays out later in life.
In short, the private long term care sector may be filling the gaps in the system to an even greater degree in the future, and having the means to pay for this private care can ensure you have the care you need.
Thank you for reading … Enjoy the rest of your day,