For anyone, even caregivers, early planning for retirement is like mapping out a long road trip. Like any good road trip, you need to head out with directions and a plan to meet your goals.
Early preparation and conversations with your family about finances and care needs, and preferences for living arrangements are important.
Chances are, you and your family members want to live independently for as long as possible as you age. As a family caregiver for someone with health concerns, the ability to continue living independently after you retire is probably an important issue for you and them. You also need a self care plan for retirement.
So what can you do to start preparing for a future beyond retirement?
Financial planning for caregivers
Retirement is expensive. How much will it realistically cost to live and age at home? Early preparation and conversations with your family about finances and care needs, and preferences for living arrangements are important:
- What things are most important to you when you consider aging at home?
- Do you want to have private care or support and continue to live in your home, or would you prefer to move into an assisted living facility?
- Do you manage any chronic health conditions that may require more support as you age?
- As a family caregiver, you may already know the costs of services in your community. If you don’t, now might be a good time to talk to local home and community care organizations to assess the costs of services.
- Are you the parent of a child with a lifelong illness or disability? Will you be able to continue paying for the costs of the services and care they need after you retire?
- Speak to your bank about what financial planning programs are available, or contact an independent financial planner for the most suitable products specific to your needs.
- The Financial Planning Standards Council’s guide on how to Find a Planner or Certificant can help put you in touch with a certified financial planner in your area.
Read also, our Elizz article on Organizing Financial and Legal Documents.
Planning for transportation needs after retirement
- Consider the community you live in and the transportation supports available to ensure you are able to maintain your independence, as well as health and safety while aging at home.
- What things do you do now that requires you to drive? For example, visiting the bank, haircuts, doctors or other medical appointments, pet services, grocery stores, other shopping, and recreational activities.
- Also consider any out of town locations and medical appointments you may presently attend, and how you could still attend them in the future.
- Keep in mind that in order to retain a driver’s license, some provinces require drivers to retake a road test when they hit a certain age and pass it according to today’s standards.
Cost of home maintenance after retirement
Home maintenance for the person in your care may be a current issue for you as a family caregiver, but could also be something to keep in mind for yourself when you face retirement. What will your average annual house maintenance costs be?
- Think about who can help out with minor maintenance, handyman tasks, and snow removal (for example, family members, neighbours, or a local teenager).
- Consider asking for help with larger tasks like spring and fall yard clean-up, heavy-duty cleaning, and de-cluttering.
- Keep track of (and tell your family about) any changes or difficulties with your ability to do regular light housekeeping (e.g., laundry, light meal preparation, changing the beds, vacuuming, and dusting.)
- Research your options for home care support for when you are unable to manage these tasks on your own.
Safety and falls prevention
You may need to make some changes to your home (or the home of the person currently in your care) to accommodate changing needs and to ensure safety and falls prevention. See our Elizz article entitled, 4 Ways to Prevent Falls at Home.
- Consider help to assess, install and renovate your living space in order to remain at home.
- Have sturdy, non-slip rugs without rips or tears.
- Salt driveways and walkways in the winter.
- Put sturdy banisters on both sides of stairs.
- Have bright lights in the hallways and bathrooms.
- Clear pathways of any extension cords or other objects.
- More Canadians are choosing to renovate their homes to adapt to their changing needs as they grow older. Read our Elizz article entitled, Renovations and Home Modifications for Aging-In-Place to learn if this option is right for you.
Housing options in retirement
- Have conversations early on with your family about your preferences for affordable housing in retirement including downsizing, accessibility, and having medical support nearby. It is best to have these conversations before an urgent need or crisis occurs.
- If you are the caregiver of a child or an adult child with ongoing health concerns, as you grow older you may need to speak to family and friends about the housing needs for those in your care. Will they be able to live independently or will they need to live in a care facility when you can no longer provide for their care?
Home care during retirement
- Speak to your doctor or local health authority about available options for home care during retirement. A wide range of professionals with specialized experience in areas like senior’s care, rehabilitation and personal support services are available in your home. Home care and community care can be customized to your needs.
- Appoint and talk to an alternative decision maker – someone who can speak on your behalf about your wishes for end-of-life care when you are unable to speak for yourself.
Mental health after retirement
- It is important for families to recognize and manage mental health issues that include early signs of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
- Discuss any concerns with your family doctor. He/she can make referrals for community support and services.
Medical equipment needed after retirement
- Your family doctor, local health authority, or community organization can help find supplies and medical equipment such as wheelchairs, walker, grab bars, raised toilet seats, etc.
- An occupational therapist can help you determine what medical equipment may be needed. Ask your doctor or local health authority for a referral.
Nutritional needs as you age
- As we age, eating well is very important. Local community organizations can support changes in your independence and mobility.
- Consider pre-made or cooked meal delivery services (e.g., Meals on Wheels).
- Some communities offer group grocery store trips.
- Many grocery stores offer delivery services.
You might also like our Elizz article on Managing Elderly Eating Disorders.
Lifestyle, active living and exercise after retirement
- Join options for healthy and active aging, such as local senior centers, the YMCA or private health clubs.
- Become aware of programs for recovery from injury or illness such as hospital-run rehab outpatient programs and in-home services.
Daily living needs assessment
- Home and community care services are available for most senior daily living needs such as grooming, getting dressed or undressed, toileting and bathing, mobility, meal preparation, and things like foot care, skin care and oral care.
Social activities and interactions
- Maintaining healthy social interactions with family and friends, as well as establishing new relationships to avoid loneliness and isolation, are vital to your physical and mental health during retirement.
- Look into day programs and friendly visiting programs in your community.
- Consider getting involved as a volunteer.
Managing your medications
- Speak to your pharmacist about education and safe medication management (e.g., blister packs), and about routinely reviewing all medications – including over the counter medications and vitamins.
- Make sure all of your health care providers know which medications you are taking as your needs change. See our Elizz article on Getting Health & Medical Information Organized.
At Elizz, we provide caregiver support for you and home care services for those who depend on you. Elizz is a Canadian company powered by Saint Elizabeth, a national not-for-profit health care organization that has been caring for Canadians since 1908.