The Current Tide of Aging

It is now old news that our population is aging. We know that there are more people in Canada over the age of 65 than under the age of 14. What we need is open dialogue regarding this undeniable fact since it will affect all of us going forward. Here are some statistics that may help to illustrate the need for open dialogue, planning and more awareness. My hope that people will be proactive comes from my years of being a caregiver and realizing that it is a very stressful job in the best of circumstances, let alone when there is little knowledge and no plan in place.

In 2000, there were 180,000 people over the age of 90. In 2010, there were 450,000 people over the age of 90. Statistics Canada (July 17, 2007) predicted that by 2030 there would be 4.3 million people over the age of 90. That is an increase of 10X in only 20 years. Are you noticing the trend?

Over the last 30 years, the proportion of individuals aged 65 and older increased by 23%. By 2048 it is expected to increase by 85%! I will be included in that number.

In 1966, there were 3.5 workers for every one senior. By 2015, it had almost reversed to 3 seniors for every one worker (Statistics Canada). The population is aging while the tax base is declining.

The current cost of a long term care facility in Canada is between $1300-2800/per month; within a private retirement residence, it can be between $2000-8000/month. In-home visits by trained professionals can cost anywhere from $15-35/hour depending on the type of assistance required. Twenty-four hour in-home care can cost up to $262,000/year.

Forty-eight percent of pre-retirees and 36% of post retirees are concerned about money, and 69% of pre-retirees and 67% of post retirees are concerned about their health (HSBC Insurance World Survey conducted by Oxford University Institute of Aging, May 13, 2008). Aren’t these percentages worth starting a conversation about with your family and financial advisors? Especially when many people assume incorrectly that they’ll remain healthy until they die; that the government will provide for us if we cannot provide for ourselves; that we will not outlive our savings; and that our families will take care of us and our needs when we are old. Is it realistic to think that your children can and will take care of you while they have full time jobs, families to raise, or financial obligations which are contingent on a paycheque? How does this all fit together when the responsibility of care has never been discussed, established or agreed upon?

Here are questions to ask yourself as you plan what your path will look like: Who will be affected by the decisions that I make for myself today – my spouse/partner, my kids, my business, who? And of equal importance, what, besides money will be important to me?

When I have asked my mom (who is 82, disabled and living with me) what is important to her, her answer has always been independence, the freedom to make her own choices, her quality of life, and her dignity. Funny thing is, they are high on my list too at age 48.

Most people would like to have control over where they live, who looks after them, and how their care is financed.

You do have options if you start the conversations now, and develop a savings program. If you do nothing at all, you could lose all control. How do you think your kids will feel if you place the burden of

your care on them by making them guess what you would have wanted when you can no longer tell them?


Twitter handle: @NeelaWhiteRWAM

Neela White is an portfolio manager with 3Macs, a division of Raymond James Ltd. She holds a degree in gerontology from McMaster University and is a Certified Professional Consultant on Aging (CPCA) and an Elder Planning Counsellor (EPC). The views of the author do not necessarily reflect those of Raymond James. This article is for information only. Raymond James Ltd., member — Canadian Investor Protection Fund.