More Canadians living well into old age means the healthcare system will be placed under a greater strain in future, while the number of questions clients need to ask themselves about eldercare will continue to grow.

“The economic burden of providing care at the level we have come to expect is unsustainable,” said Jennifer May, community relations manager, eastern Ontario, Bayshore Home Health, who spoke at the 11th Annual Institute of Advanced Financial Planners (IAFP) Symposium in Ottawa on Thursday.

As such, discussions around eldercare could become one of the biggest financial and time commitments for some clients, according to May.

About 14% of Canadians are 65 and older yet they account for roughly half of all healthcare costs, said May. Furthermore, May said informal caregivers, such as adult children, provide the majority of care to the elderly. Generally, these caregivers are employed while looking after seniors and have several extra costs as a result of their responsibilities.

The issue could become worse in future as the federal government reassesses current healthcare legislation. The Canada Health Act will be reviewed in 2014 and as a result May suspects some of health services could possibly be altered or cut.

“Right now, if you go to a physician or seek treatment in a hospital you will not receive a bill for that,” said May. “However, will we see user fees in the future? It is possible. Will [governments] de-list some of the services they currently provide? It is possible.”

When it comes to eldercare for parents there are several questions clients need to consider to make sure they and their parents are prepared for the future. Some of those questions include the following:

  1. How involved do the clients wish to be in the care of their parents?
  2. Who will provide eldercare if the clients cannot be around for their parents?
  3. If it requires extra money where will that money come from?
  4. If the clients live in another city or province would the parents be willing to move closer to them? If so, how disrupting would that be for everyone? What kind of impact would a move have on the parent’s health?
  5. If one parent dies, how will the surviving spouse be supported?
  6. Are the clients willing and able to top up any healthcare needs and costs that may be incurred if the parents do not have or do not qualify for any type of insurance?