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Retirement and Health Care Expenses – Are You Prepared?

When people consider retirement, they generally focus on the positive aspects, like the freedom to do the things you’ve been looking forward to. A vacation home, traveling, social events, hobbies and sporting activities come to mind when planning how and where to spend your time and money. Considering or budgeting for age related expenses is the last thing you want to do when you are healthy, but preparing now can save a lot of grief later.

In 2009, the Canadian Federal Government Survey of Experiences with Primary Health Care found that 76% of seniors reported having at least one chronic condition such as high blood pressure, arthritis or diabetes, so it is prudent to recognize that most people will be affected at some point. Not all expenses will be covered by insurance or health care plans, so it is a good idea to do your research and read the fine print, to minimize the chances of being stuck with unexpected costs. If possible, setting aside some savings specifically in preparation for the unexpected will soften the impact in a health care disaster scenario. Sudden, unforseen medical costs can throw retirement plans and budgets into chaos and even put some seniors into debt.

There may come a time when basic activities such housekeeping, laundry, buying groceries and preparing meals or even bathing may become more than you can manage by yourself. Simply getting around to do the everyday things you take for granted right now may be difficult or impossible to do without assistance. You may require regular visits from medical professionals to administer medicines, treatments, physiotherapy, etc..

Of course not all seniors will require the same degree of care, so it is a good idea to talk to your health care provider about what to expect based on your current condition and what financial provisions they think you should consider. Speaking to an accountant or sitting down with a certified financial planner will make the process of budget preparation less overwhelming. Discussing your retirement needs with them and finding out all the options available to you will help you to prepare a long term plan tailored to your circumstances.

Possible expenses to keep in mind:

Regular personal health care expenses:

  • Medications and prescriptions
  • Dental care
  • Eye care
  • Hearing aids

In-home care costs:

  • At-home meal preparation can cost $13.00 to $32.00 per hour.
  • A personal care worker hired privately to assist with dressing, bathing, etc. can cost $20 to $50 per hour.
  • Registered nurse visits can cost $40 to $80 per hour.

Mobility and accessibility:

  • Wheelchairs can cost from a couple of hundred dollars to a several thousand depending on quality and function.
  • Scooters are priced $1,000 to $5,000 or more.
  • Portable wheelchair ramps can cost from $100 to $500. Permanents ramps can built from around $500 to as much as $10,000 depending on the size, design and work involved.
  • Walkers can be bought from approximately $100 to $500.
  • Bath benches range from approximately $50 to $500.
  • Bath lifts and chairs can cost from $500 to $5000, while wall and ceiling mounted lifts can be as much as $10,000.
  • The cost of a straight stair lift can range from $1,500 to $3,000, while a curved one can be as high as $20,000 or more.
  • Walk-in baths require a bit of renovation and can be had for $3000 to $10,000 depending on make, quality and complexity of installation.
  • Grab-bars for the washroom can be $50 to $200 installed while hand-railings throughout the house can cost a few hundred to several thousand dollars installed.
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