Long-term thinking a must as Canadians are living longer

January 4, 2016

Spending 20 or 30 years in retirement can mean increased chances of health issues and added financial stress.

The average woman retiring at age 65 today can expect to live another 22 years, while a 65-year-old man can expect to live another 19 years.1 For many Canadians, financing these retirement years is becoming more challenging. Long-term thinking can help you plan for a long, happy retirement and to handle any unexpected challenges.

Health issues and housing costs

When we think about retirement, we often think about the carefree early years, when we’re in relatively good health and living the retirement we’ve planned for. But as we age, the more likely we are to experience serious health issues that will decrease our independence and increase our expenses.

For example, the risk of developing dementia doubles every five years after age 60, and 20% of seniors over age 80 are affected.2 In 2012, 85% of Canadian seniors had at least one chronic condition.3 Add to that the possibility of declining physical health, and the reality is that the longer you live, the less likely you’ll spend your entire retirement living independently in your own home. Housing may, in fact, be your largest expense in retirement.

If you decide to stay in your own home, you may need to renovate to accommodate any health or mobility needs such as equipping bathrooms with grab bars and shower benches, changes to accommodate wheelchair access, stair lifts and more. Costs for these types of renovations can be significant. If you need to move to an assisted living facility, both public and private facilities may have long waiting lists and can be expensive.

Other financial implications

Beyond housing, seniors must also prepare for the additional cost of prescriptions or home care, not all of which will be covered by provincial health care coverage.

Driving and transportation are also important factors to consider. In your earlier retirement years, you’ll likely be independently mobile. But as you get older, you may need to pay for taxis or other forms of transportation to get to doctors’ appointments and run errands such as grocery shopping.

Talking with family about aging

Your family is an important part of your transition to retirement. It is crucial to share and discuss your plans, from whether you wish to stay at home or move to an assisted care facility, to basic health care needs and how you plan to pay for these types of expenses.

You should also discuss a Power of Attorney for financial decisions and one for health care decisions. This will help your caregivers in carrying out your wishes if required.

Your financial advisor can help you plan for these conversations to ensure you ask and answer the important questions.

Next steps

  1. Talk with your financial advisor about the state of your finances and any opportunities you may have to grow your wealth now to cover future expenses.
  2. Make an appointment with your family doctor and other health care providers to get a clear understanding of your current health.
  3. Initiate a discussion with your family and start making some important decisions.
  4. Research your health care options and how to go about preparing for them.

Talk with your financial advisor about your retirement plans, or visit AGF.com/RethinkRisk.

1 Source: Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, April 2014

2 Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Alzheimer’s Association, 2015.

3 Source: Public Health Agency of Canada.

The contents of this Web site are provided for informational and educational purposes, and are not intended to provide specific individual advice including, without limitation, investment, financial, legal, accounting or tax. Please consult with your own professional advisor on your particular circumstances.

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