Home is best: Are you ready?

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As the RRSP deadline looms, many Canadians are thinking about retirement planning.  Chances are you are wondering whether or not you’ll have enough to retire.  Given the uncertainty about the economy, stock markets, housing costs, pensions and interest rates, many of us are questioning our original retirement targets.  What do I want to do in retirement?  Travel?  Volunteer?  Will I have enough to do all those things?  What is enough?

Coming up with a figure can be a frustrating process.  Financial planners will tell us that the rule of thumb dictates that we should aim for a nest egg that will yield about 70 per cent or more of our working income (this is true only if we no longer have a mortgage or any other outstanding debt).  Realistically however, we each have different financial circumstances so a one-size-fits-all retirement plan is impractical.  To complicate matters even more, we’re also living longer and our money has to go further.

In light of this, you may be wondering what a health authority has to do with retirement planning.

At Fraser Health, we believe that Home is the Best ™ place to be.  With the support of other community service providers we can offer support for your health care needs so you can be independent as long as possible.  The health care system is listening to the strong desire of seniors to live in their own home for as long as possible.  Consider this, only about seven per cent of seniors actually require residential care.  The rest of the senior population is able to live out their lives at home.

Take for example, the case of ‘Marjorie”.  A lively 80-year-old with a history of rheumatoid arthritis, she has lived on her own with her pet cat.  After being released from hospital following a mild stroke, she was assigned a community health worker from Fraser Health Home Health.  Her Home Health worker would come in once a week to provide her with personal care such as assistance with bathing, toileting, grooming, or dressing.

Unfortunately, Marjorie falls and breaks her hip.  After emergency surgery and a short recovery period in hospital, she is ready to be discharged.  The question for her and her family is where should she go – to a residential care facility or back home?

Marjorie, like most seniors in Fraser Health, wants to go back home and be with her cat and her friends in the community.  She is assigned a Home Health case manager who is able to adjust the level of support provided by the community health worker as Marjorie recovers and her care needs change.

Minor renovations are made to her home including hand-rails in the bathroom to make it easier for her to get in and out of the tub, a housekeeping service is called in every two weeks to clean Marjorie’s apartment; the freezer is stocked with microwaveable “home cooked meals” purchased from a private company; fresh produce is delivered by a local supermarket every week and taxi chits are purchased so Marjorie can visit friends and attend social gatherings in the community.  The burden of care is shared by many so that Marjorie’s daughter is not alone in caring for her aging mother.

These and other unexpected expenses are what push seniors from living comfortably in their retirement years, to near destitution.  Individuals often plan for a lifestyle that does not take into consideration the inevitability of deteriorating health.  Simple renovations and regular services like cooking and cleaning can increase costs to a senior by a couple of hundred dollars  a month, add to that prescription costs, or major renovations and you are looking  several thousand dollars a month.  While most of the time, these costs will need to be borne by the individual and are not covered by the publicly funded health care system it still means everything to someone to continue to live in their own home.

So as you seek the ever-elusive answer to the question, what is enough, take a moment to consider the many curve balls life may throw at us.

Find out about the Home is Best philosophy and Home Health services. More information http://www.fraserhealth.ca/your_care/home-and-community-care/home_and_community_care


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