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Canadians Spend Billions to Care for Aging Parents

Kimberley Fowler
By Kimberley FowlerJuly 27, 2017
Canadians Spend Billions to Care for Aging Parents

Each year, Canadians spend billions of dollars to care for their aging parents. Research suggests that this number will increase over the coming years, as inflation continues to rise and our parents live longer.

According to leading economists at CIBC, Canadians spend $33 billion per year in expenses and time taken off work to care for their parents. According to the report by Benjamin Tal and Royce Mendes, “an aging population combined with longer lifespans and strained social services has in recent years seen more and more Canadians taking on the role of caregiver for their aging parents.”

A Demographic Deficit in Canada

Statistics Canada reports that the number of seniors in Canada is now larger than the number of children.

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The 2016 census revealed that there were 5.9 million seniors and just 5.8 million Canadians under the age of 14. It is an unprecedented demographic shift unseen before in Canadian history.

What’s more, according to the CIBC, the proportion of Canadians over the age of 65 is set to increase from 17-22% in just 10 years.

Children Shoulder the Cost While Caring for Aging Parents

Approximately 14% of Canadians with parents over the age of 65 will be forced to pay out of pocket for their parent’s care, Tal and Mendes report. That adds up to 2 million Canadians across the country at an average out of pocket expense of $3,300.

But the real cost comes from the amount of time that the Canadian workforce is spending caring for their elderly parents. Tal and Mendes found that 30% of workers with parents over the age of 65 take 450 hours off per year to provide care.

In other words, Canadians who are caring for their aging parents are experiencing a total of $27 billion of lost income or vacation days.

Low-Income Canadians and Women Are Hit Hardest

Unsurprisingly, low-income Canadians and women are hit hardest by the rising cost of caring for elderly parents.

For instance, women take an average of 30% more time off to care for their parents than men.

Low-income Canadians, meanwhile, are hit much harder by the $3,300 average caregiving cost than middle or high-income Canadians. Often, these Canadians’ parents also have less savings.

The Emotional Cost of Caregiving

Not considered in this recent CIBC report, are the many other costs of caring for an elderly parent. Caregivers are all too familiar with the emotional toll that caring for an elderly parent can take, and the immense strain that it can place on other relationships.

Often, caregivers are forced to contend with a strong sense of guilt for being distant from their own families while still not being able to devote enough time to their parents or to self-care.

Coping effectively with these feelings is vital to a caregiver’s mental health.

Protecting Your Family

There is no way to stop the impending demographic shift, but there are some things that you and your family can do to get ready:

  1. Be sure to have a conversation with your parents about their care well before they will need help.
  2. Explore assisted living facilities and other options sooner rather than later.
  3. Start saving, and ensure that all the legal paperwork (including estate plans, powers of attorney and wills) that you need is up to date.

How much time do you or other caregivers you know take off each year to care for aging parents or senior loved ones? Tell us in the comments below.

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Kimberley Fowler
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Kimberley Fowler

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