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Delay that date with a nursing home – take action now

What makes more sense, to budget for the expectation that you will spend your golden years in a nursing home, or to invest in your health now to remain active and independent for as long as possible?

One of our patients, a 51-year-old woman who makes a point of taking care of her health, was shocked when her financial planner recently told her to budget for moving into some kind of assisted living facility as early as age 70 due to some kind of mobility issue.

That’s less than 20 years away for her.

Now, why would a financial planner suggest such a thing, despite her current health?

More seniors than ever before

The census data released earlier this year says it all – Canada has experienced the greatest proportional increase in its seniors population since Confederation. That raises big questions about our quality of life as we age and how we should plan accordingly.

What do the statisticians mean by proportional? For the first time ever, seniors outnumber children. As of 2016, we had 5.9 million seniors in this country, versus 5.8 million Canadians aged 14 and under.

It’s all because of those baby boomers. After the Second World War, the economy boomed and with it, the birth rate. Now those boomers are hitting retirement age. The number of people over the age of 65 jumped by 20 per cent between 2011 and 2016.

But that brings with it a host of socio-economic issues. How do we plan to care for such a large segment of the population that require the lion’s share of healthcare, homecare, and palliative care services? This isn’t just an issue for the boomers, but for all of us as we age.

The system can’t handle it

In May, retired politician and former member of the Canadian Senate Sharon Carstairs, who has long studied the issues around elderly and palliative care, told a Senate committee that Canada is “woefully unprepared” to handle the volume. It’s already a health crisis. Her report found that 65 per cent of Canadians are not getting the end-of-life care they need.

But what about the care each of us needs between now and end-of-life? What about when we reach that point when we are no longer healthy enough, or mobile enough, to live independently and must move into some kind of retirement residence or nursing home?

According to Statscan, the average age in Canada of a nursing home resident continues to be 83. This number hasn’t changed since the previous census in 2011. Our average life expectancy nudged up since then, but there’s a difference between living longer and living well.

Where does this leave you?

The consequence is that waiting lists for nursing homes and other forms of assisted living are long and just getting longer because of growing demand. Just look at the sad stories we hear in the news, about couples who are separated because no one facility has two beds to take them both, and problems at facilities that are understaffed.

In a 2015 report titled the Future Care for Canadian Seniors: A Status Quo Forecast, the Conference Board of Canada estimated that by 2026 over 2.4 million Canadians age 65 and over will require paid and unpaid continuing care support — up 71 per cent from 2011. By 2046, this number will reach nearly 3.3 million.

So how do you avoid becoming part of these statistics and lost in a system that’s at the breaking point? How do you confidently look to the future with the reasonable expectation that you will hale and independent well past 70?

Take action now to age with grace

By taking care of your health. It doesn’t matter how old you are. The time to start is now. It’s no different than investing for retirement, where the common wisdom is to start putting away small amounts on a consistent basis when you are young and time is on your side.

Don’t wait till time is against you. The clock is ticking, even if you don’t hear it yet.
Some things do come with age. But living in pain, losing the mobility to live independently, giving up the activities you love – these are not a normal part of aging.

Instead of expecting to need assisted living or nursing care by a certain arbitrary age and budgeting for it, invest that money in yourself now to prevent the health issues that will erode your independence.

Take some sessions with a personal trainer to get yourself on a routine of safe and effective exercise. Eat better – most of us know the difference between garbage and good food, it’s just a matter of a little self-discipline.

And make sure you are under regular Chiropractic care to remove any interference on your nervous system that may be affecting its proper function. You knew we were going to finish with that, didn’t you? What can we say? We wholeheartedly believe it’s the foundation for a healthy life.

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