Seniors prefer funeral to lifestyle planning

Survey finds 73% of seniors have a will, only 13% have long-term care plan

In today’s share-everything culture, final years planning might seem like the last taboo.

In an effort to avoid the topic, seniors and their adult children often don’t take the necessary steps to plan for their final years of life, which include getting financial affairs in order and creating plans for care in case of declining health.

In fact, a new survey by Home Instead Inc. found that while 73 per cent of seniors have a written will, only 13 per cent have actually made arrangements for long-term care.

“When planning for their final years, many people go straight to making funeral arrangements and financial plans rather than taking time to prepare for care that might be necessary in the final years, months and days of life,” said Don Henke, owner of the Home Instead Senior Care franchise serving Kelowna, West Kelowna, Penticton, Peachland, Summerland and Okanagan Falls.

“Unfortunately, many people do not consider that as we age, we need extra care. While the vast majority of seniors prefer to age at home, they may not realize the range of options available to them, and that this time in their lives requires planning, too.”

Related: Poll finds retirement plan top financial priority

According to Canadian Association of Retired Persons, 93 per cent of seniors in Canada live at home and want to stay there as long as possible. Despite this fact, Home Instead found that only 74 per cent of seniors have shared their wishes with their adult children.

Jay Branton, managing director of Dignity Memorial in Eastern Canada, explains that one barrier to planning is the discomfort the conversation brings to seniors and their adult children.

“These conversations are uncomfortable but very important to have,” said Branton. “Start by asking your loved one some simple questions around end-of-life to see where their mind is at. This usually sparks a broader conversation and gets them thinking.”

According to the Home Instead survey, aging parents are far more comfortable discussing plans for their own final years (89 per cent) than their adult children are discussing their parents’ plans (68 per cent).

“It sounds contradictory, but end of life planning is something that can start far in advance of a senior loved ones’ final years,” said Brian Burlacoff, financial advisor at Sun Life Financial. “Having conversations early on and putting a plan in place now will relieve stress on both aging loved ones and caregivers down the road when the final years do arrive.”

To help start the conversation around final years planning, the Home Instead network is introducing free resources to encourage seniors and their adult children to talk to one another about their plans, while also exploring options for end-of-life care, finances, insurance and funeral planning.

The program also features the online “Compose Your Life SongSM” music generator, which can help families think about what steps to take to be better prepared for this journey. Completing the activity will result in a customized song that will reflect the user’s final years’ preparedness level.

“Our hope is that we can equip aging adults and their families with the tools they need to plan for what may come in the later years of life. We want families to enjoy their time together while also being able to provide loved ones with the care they need,” said Henke.

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