Between a wave of aging Boomers and longer lifespans, the number of elderly parents requiring family support is poised to surge in the coming years. Case in point, the number of centenarians has tripled since 2001.1 Longer lifespans mean more Canadians will experience a role reversal where children will care for parents.
In 2011 alone, almost a quarter of Canadians aged 15 years and older, or approximately 8 million people, provided care for a chronically ill, disabled or aging family member. Two out of every five of those Canadians carved out time in their schedules to be the primary caregiver to one or both of their elderly parents.2
It’s natural to want to do all that you can to ensure your parents are personally and financially supported in their golden years. However, there are serious challenges to caregiving that cannot be overlooked. From the practical and financial to the emotional and familial, there are steps you can take now to plan to support your parents as they age.
Step one: Have the conversation
Planning for your parents’ long-term care ideally starts before a crisis happens. Knowing the housing and care options they’d prefer, should the need arise, will help you support their wishes. For example, they may want to continue living on their own rather than move in with you or to a retirement home. If you have siblings or know other family members may be part of the conversation around your parents’ future care, then it’s important to talk about their roles and how you can support each other.
Don’t be surprised if you must take the lead in broaching the subject of care with your parents. They can be understandably reticent to talk about needing their children’s help. For the first conversation, designate a time and place that’s private and comfortable where you can openly address how your parents feel about their future. You may want to start by talking about an article you read or about a friend whose parents are in a similar situation. This will help to remind your parents that others are experiencing the same changes and confronting similar issues.
Step two: Explore your options
Having open and honest conversations with your parents to set expectations will allow you to explore options for services and possible living arrangements, including the types of government or private assistance that are available. Knowing these options ahead of time will help you identify any issues and be better prepared in the event your parents need care. You also want to understand their financial situation. If you determine you’ll likely help your parents financially at some point, you’ll have time to plan accordingly.
Step three: Build a caregiving contingency into your financial plan
Caregiving can be expensive on many fronts and not just for the people being cared for. For example, you may need to take a more flexible job with reduced hours and pay to look after your parents. Similarly, your transportation and other out-of-pocket expenses may increase.
You want to ensure that you’re anticipating expenses and planning for unforeseen caregiving-related costs so that you don’t need to dip into your other savings or compromise your other financial goals to help your parents. This isn’t something you have to do alone – I can help you take a holistic view of your family’s situation and build a solid future based on a comprehensive financial plan.
Plan for peace of mind
The many positive aspects of caregiving for your parents include time spent with them and the joy that comes from giving to others. However, it’s a role that’s likely to feel more fulfilling and less stressful when properly planned for. If it’s time to start the caregiving conversation, contact our office today to learn more about how we can help you do it more effectively and ensure your parents are well supported in their senior years.
1“Canada’s population,” Statistics Canada, July 1, 2019.
2Maire Sinha, “Portrait of Caregivers, 2012,” Statistics Canada, September 2013.