The proportion of seniors in the population is on the rise with a large bubble of baby-boomers on the very near horizon. Life expectancy is increasing year-by-year, with advances in healthcare technology and chronic disease management. These facts are common knowledge. What many Calgarians don’t realize is that the provincial and federal budgets (derived from tax revenues) will not be able to keep up with the required health care expenditures to meet the needs of the growing senior’s population at current service levels. The public health care system is already strained beyond its capacity and will become progressively more strained in the years to come. Publicly funded services and supports for seniors will have longer wait lists, higher eligibility criteria and less overall availability.
In addition to wealth planning, people must do health planning. Planning for your care and support needs will be critical to living well and aging well. But there are challenges.
Challenge 1: Families don’t know where to turn for support
As seniors age, they can slide from crisis to crisis. When help or support is needed, families often don’t know where to turn. They don’t know what services are available to help. They don’t know who to contact or how to go about it. Care and support services are often too little, too late and unnecessary injury or decline ensues. Furthermore, families are often reticent to discuss health wishes, care preferences and legal and financial preparedness.
It all begins with a family meeting or meeting with seniors, or adult children alone if that is desired. The goal is to educate all parties on the options available for supportive seniors services and guide goal setting. Through a comprehensive assessment health, functional, legal and/or financial concerns are addressed and an actionable plan created. Furthermore, an experienced seniors consultant can provide referrals to other trusted, reputable service providers.
Challenge 2: Finding the right accommodation
Most seniors want to stay in their homes as they age, some want to downsize or relocate to a local retirement community. Everyone wants to stay out of the hospital or long term care. The cost of retirement communities or bringing help into the home is always a surprise.
Successful living in whichever home setting is preferred almost always hinges on having a safe environment in which to live (safe from accidents or injury), eating properly and having adequate socialization. With the help of an experienced seniors consultant you can enjoy a safe and supported living environment in an existing home, or receive the guidance of experts that help Calgary seniors downsize or relocate to a more suitable location.
Dealing with a local service provider with detailed knowledge of all local single retirement residences is also a valuable service that will save you time, money and potential headaches. Success at home requires early planning both from a financial perspective and knowing what your wishes and preferences are.
Challenge 3: The impact of caregiving
Being a family caregiver to a loved one is, on average, a 6-year commitment and takes 20 to 40 hours per week of your time. Alzheimer’s disease and other related dementias are particularly devastating to families. Caregivers own health and wellness is easily strained, not to mention the strain on their relationships, families and careers. Caregiving is a marathon not a sprint and as such careful planning and balance are required for success.
By conducting a thorough assessment of the current situation, seniors’ advisors can help identify services available to support the caregiver. These seniors’ professionals can help families navigate the complicated landscape from dementia assessment through support groups, intervention programs, caregiver planning and residential memory care facilities if needed.