Want to stay in your home forever? Be aware of the costs of home care

Home, $weet home.

That’s an appropriate headline for your financial plan if you intend to stay in your house for the long term rather than move to a retirement community. Solid arguments can be made for aging in place, but there will be ever-growing expenses. Plan for them rather than having them take you by surprise.

Baby boomers may have the most intense relationship with their homes of any generation in this country’s history. Houses give them both emotional and financial sustenance, although the latter benefit is more complex than you might think.

As described in this recent column, owners in Toronto are hanging on to their houses rather than selling into a market in which prices are soaring. Fear of missing out on further gains is a factor, and so are the harsh economics of a hot housing market. Money made from selling a house at a nice profit may disappear into the cost of buying another home that has also appreciated.

Emotional attachments to home shouldn’t be underestimated.

survey of people aged 50 and older commissioned by Royal Bank of Canada a few years back found that staying at home as long as possible using home care was a much more popular choice than moving into a retirement residence.

There are two levels of costs to consider if you want to stay in your home through retirement – one for maintenance and upkeep on your home and the other for home care services to help when you’re unable to look after yourself. Maintenance issues may be more of an issue than you think.

Cary Williams of Pavilion Investment House in Edmonton says it’s simple to arrange for someone to cut the grass and shovel the driveway. “But there are a lot of small things that go into better living, like making sure the furnace filters are getting changed.”

Maybe your children and grandchildren can help with these jobs. If not, there’s the hassle of finding people to help and the cost of hiring them. One of the virtues of condo living is that a lot of this work is done for you.

Mr. Williams describes three periods of retirement – the first is the fun phase when you’re active and travel seems appealing, and the second is when you slow down and are more content with routine activities. The third is when you’re less able to look after yourself. “Mobility starts to fall off, you have health challenges and you need more and more help.”

At this point, you can either remain in your house and take advantage of home care, or move to a long-term care facility. Initially, home care could be the cheaper option.

Data collected by insurer Sun Life Financial shows that the median cost for a one-bedroom suite in an Alberta retirement home is $3,525 a month, based on extremes of $1,235 to $5,400. Home care would be cheaper if you bought a small block of hours every week for services such as meal preparation, laundry and help around your home. But there’s a crossover point when home care becomes more expensive, says Lee Anne Davies, chief executive officer of the consulting firm Agenomics. “The overlooked challenge with home care is that, generally for a senior, around-the-clock care becomes necessary,” she said in an e-mail. “That will be more expensive than long-term care.”

There are also organizational challenges that may involve your family as well as you, Ms. Davies said. Top issues include finding people who show up on time on a regular basis and, if 24-7 care is required, arranging care for both weekday and weekend shifts.

Home care may still be good value, even if the costs are higher in both money and time spent co-ordinating care. Ms. Davies said there are lots of part-time workers in retirement homes, and that means some staff won’t have deep relationships with seniors living in the facility. “Quite frankly, do you want the person who assists with your toileting or showers to be someone different each time?”

Pavilion Investment House’s Mr. Williams encourages seniors and their adult kids to have ongoing conversations about care options that include costs and affordability. The home-loving baby boom generation is used to paying for what it wants, and this may well include home care.

Written By Rob Carrick

Simon Fraser
Market Update

Simon Fraser Condos

Altaire by Polygon

Altaire built in 2008/2009 reaches higher then any other condo building in Metro Vancouver offering panoramic views.

Novo I by Intergulf

Novo I built in 2007 known for the amazing sight lines and views from most units and balconies up to 1000 sq ft.

Novo II by Intergulf

Novo II built in 2007 known for the amazing sight lines and views from most units and balconies up to 1000 sq ft.

Aurora by Polygon

Aurora built in 2006 with 103 condos featuring 36 unique floor plans ranging from 715 sq ft to 1500 sq ft.

One University by Millennium

One University built in 2005 is UniverCity's flagship building with luxury homes featuring semi private elevators.

Harmony by Polygon

Harmony built in 2005 was the first condo development at Univercity & as a result offers a unique setting & views.

Serenity Townhomes by Polygon

Serenity is a collection of 2 bedroom townhomes of 1100 sq ft ranging to 4 bedroom 2000+ sq ft townhomes.

The Hub by Liberty Homes

The Hub built in 2009 is set atop Nester's Grocery and steps from High Street giving these homes an urban feel.

Verdant by VanCity Enterprises

Verdant is a two storey town home building built with environmental design and stylish living spaces which complement the modern exterior of these SFU homes.

Origin by Porte Development

Origin is designed by GBL Architect & BYU Interior Designs, developed by Porte Development Corp. and marketed by Red Dot Real Estate.

Nest by Mosaic

Located on UniverCity High Street across from the new University Highlands elementary schools this refreshing building will add further depth to a growing community.

Highland House by Liberty Homes

A 12-storey concrete high-rise development and targeted towards Rental Investors and First-Time Condo Buyers.

Lift by Porte Development

Lift will be a wood frame building comprising of 56 homes. Building technologies, environmental features, and price points should be similar to Origin.

Altitude by Hungerford Group

Altitude will be a 2 tower development comprising of a 12 and 14 story building with a total of 210 strata units.

CentreBlock by Liberty Homes

CentreBlock at UniverCity atop Burnaby Mountain is the latest condo project with sales commencing early 2014. .

Reciprocity Logo The data relating to real estate on this website comes in part from the MLS® Reciprocity program of either the Greater Vancouver REALTORS® (GVR), the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) or the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board (CADREB). Real estate listings held by participating real estate firms are marked with the MLS® logo and detailed information about the listing includes the name of the listing agent. This representation is based in whole or part on data generated by either the GVR, the FVREB or the CADREB which assumes no responsibility for its accuracy. The materials contained on this page may not be reproduced without the express written consent of either the GVR, the FVREB or the CADREB.