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LETTER: High costs for long-term care are 'unforgivable'

Heartless corporations who could charge less for their services are always available for those with the cash, pensions and financial legacy, says letter writer
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CollingwoodToday welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected] or via our website. Please include your full name, daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter is about the lack of affordable long-term care beds.

Editor's note: This letter was updated on Feb. 23, 2024 to clarify monthly costs cited are related to assisted-living facilities, not long-term-care homes. 

Are you a senior looking for a place to live out your remaining years, or are you family members who would like to find a place for your elderly and possibly fragile ailing parent to live? 

In Canada, there are 29 long-term care beds per 1,000 population aged 65 and older. There are 2,079 long-term care homes in Canada, with 198,220 long-term beds. In 2022 in Canada there are 6,835,866 people aged 65+. In 2021, there were 861,000 Canadians aged 85 or older (2.3 per cent of the population.) There are twice as many women in that 85-year bracket. 

There are nine long-term-care homes in the Northwest Territories and 100 per cent are privately owned. The average monthly cost for assisted-living facilities, which are operated differently from long-term-care homes, varies from $3,116.00 in Saskatchewan to more than $6,899 in Ontario.

Investigating in my hometown of Bradford, Ontario my mother was offered a one-bedroom-plus-den with assisted living availability for $6,795 a month. Much of the other services such as massages, eye, ear, dental throat care are extras. 

This includes two freshly prepared meals daily and continental breakfast, access to self-serve hospitality and refreshments. Some diets as prescribed by a physician may be available, possibly extra with consultation fees applied. In-suite dinning services provided no charge in event of illness, or authorized by the Health and Wellness Manager.

Many services that assist clients to acquire things, like personal hygiene supplies they need, are extra charge. There are many services that assist the client which are included. Staying in such a place would be interesting, comfortable and very acceptable, but who has $81,540.00 plus taxes annually budgeted?

Even the $3,116.00 in Saskatchewan would cost an annual $37,392.00 plus taxes (and extras).  Most of such institutions are privately owned or corporate entities that basically offer these services to our loved one who are either independently wealthy or getting ready for end-of-life situations. The costs to the clients or their family are enormous, unforgiveable and morally challengeable.

According to Stats Canada as many as 39 per cent of Canadians have little or no savings to hold them over during their senior years. Costs for the healthcare and senior living sectors will continue to grow as we are all getting older.

Challenges to seniors' rights continue to press the government to serve Canadians more, with less available. Less senior beds, housing, staffing to service these growing demographics. Senior Living Magazine talks about a synergy between what seniors and all Canadians are facing, timely low housing starts, affordable housing starts, medical staffing leaving their provinces and nation to find much better paying jobs elsewhere. 

My mother and I cannot afford $6,795 a month, even though the facility is top notch. The staff is excellent, too. Costs are just too far out of reach. There are lower monthly rates to be found in other institutions, but they are located far away, and have long waiting lists. Sometimes timing just does not work with you. Many potential clients, during a medical health emergency, find bed in hospitals. Imagine ending your days in a hospital? Not what most of us have imagined. 

This all falls upon the shoulders of our politicians and specialists/planners who knew the population was aging, and housing, beds, staff were not available to the numbers needed. No one seems to know how to think ahead, imagine the question "WHAT IF". Our expectations must now change, evolve with other options and alternatives to nice places where our elderly parents can live out their lives.

It is no wonder why MAID and euthanasia have become so popular among our financially- or medically-challenged seniors. Is death preferable to bankruptcy, medical alienation, isolation from family, making your family financially broke? Sure no one believes that, but why then are many thousands of seniors living out their lives in poverty and continual crisis?

Where are those politicians who promised affordable homes for them? Nowhere to be found. Heartless corporations who could charge less for their services are always available for those with the cash, pensions and financial legacy. 

Getting old sucks! Unless you're rich.

Steven Kaszab
Bradford, Ontario