The illness of a spouse or other family member can create a huge financial and emotional strain on retired people. Will you be able to handle such an event financially?
To decide if you need to make changes in your life due to ill health, ask yourself:
- What services are available to help me at home?
- Do I need to move?
- Where should I move?
- Who do I talk to about getting help?
If you have a spouse, you will need to discuss these questions together.
Who do I talk to about getting help?
Contact your local Community Care Access Centre (CCAC). These government agencies provide free information about in-home care, supportive housing, and retirement homes as well as access to long-term care. They can also help you get the services you need. To find your local CCAC:
- Call the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care INFOline at 1-800-268-1154 (toll-free in Ontario only)
- Visit the
- Use the CCAC Locator on the
To search for long-term care facilities in Ontario, you can also visit these websites:
What services are available to help me at home?
With the right help, many seniors can continue to live in their own homes. Both private companies and government programs offer these services. It’s a question of looking at your savings and your budget to see what you can afford.
For example, can you afford to pay for live-in help? What about a part-time nurse?
If it will be a struggle for you financially, you may qualify to get help from the government. Home care for seniors in Canada has changed over the past 15 years. Public spending for home care was about $124 million in 1980-1981. According to the most recent data, it was almost $3.5 billion in 2003-2004. That means a lot more help for seniors today.
What home and community support services does the Ontario government offer?
These services can provide:
- Visits by a nurse or physiotherapist in your home
- Help with bathing, dressing, eating, medications
- Light housekeeping, including cooking, shopping, light cleaning, and laundry
- Meal delivery
- Transportation and access to social and recreational events
You may be asked to share some of the cost of these services. It depends on your financial situation.
Do I need to move?
At some point, many seniors will need to sell their homes and downsize. Or, they may have to move to get the level of care they need. This can be a tough decision, especially if you have to leave a family home where you’ve lived for many years.
How do you decide when it’s time to make a change?
Consider your finances, your options and how quickly you need to make a change.
Talk about it with your family members openly. Everyone in the family will feel the impact of your choice.
Get advice from your doctor or other health professionals if you need it.
Don’t forget that it may take time to find the right situation. You may need to pay for extra help until you can make the change.
Where should I move?
Your choices will depend on your health, your finances and your personal wishes. For example, you may be able to:
- Stay in the same area but move to a smaller home, condo, or apartment that will not be as difficult to look after.
- Move to a town or province where costs are lower, or where you can be closer to a friend or relative.
If you, or your loved one, can no longer live independently, you will have to decide what type of facility will best meet both your needs. Some seniors decide that they, or their loved one, need a retirement home or long-term care facility. It’s a good idea to visit at least three places and talk with residents and staff. It’s a big decision and you want to get the best care you can afford.
In Ontario, there are three levels of help for people who need some extra care:
- Supportive housing helps independent seniors who need a lower level of personal care and support. Many places will help you cover the cost if your income is low.
- Retirement homes also help independent seniors who need some personal care and support. These are privately run and funded entirely by the fees that residents pay. They do not receive government funds. In Ontario, the Ontario Residential Care Association (ORCA) sets operating standards and inspects and accredits retirement homes. Ask for proof of ORCA membership before you choose a retirement home.
- Long-term care homes help people who need 24-hour nursing care, supervision, or higher levels of personal care. These government-regulated homes are also called nursing homes. The public health care system covers part of the costs for care. Residents may also co-pay costs related to their accommodation. How much they pay is based on the type of accommodation and their financial situation.
Remember: Your health can really change your financial plans
You may have a lot of difficult choices to make. Make sure you find out about all the government resources that can help you enjoy the best possible quality of life.
. This website provides free information about the services available to Canadians of all ages.
. This website provides free resources to help you make informed decisions about seniors’ housing, care services and related matters for you or a loved one.
. This Government of Ontario website provides free information on the services and funding available to help if you or a loved one need care.
. This Government of Canada website provides free information about how you, or an older person you care for, can stay healthy and active. It also has information about living independently at home and where to get help when you need it.
Content in this section is provided in partnership with the Investor Education Fund, a non-profit organization promoting financial literacy to Canadians. To find out more go to GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca.