How are seniors managing and planning for the future? The report Seniors in the Lower Mainland: A Snapshot of Facts and Trends by the United Way and SPARC BC tells an interesting story.
More are working: The snapshot shows that fewer seniors today are relying on RRSPs and investment income than they did 10 years ago (RRSPs dropped from 11.1 to 8.5%, investment income dropped to 58% from 65.4%) while those relying on private pensions, CPP and OAS have not changed much.
Meanwhile, employment income jumped from 16.4% to 28.1% from between 2000 and 2010 and, with housing costs being what they are, that trend can be expected to grow.
More live as couples. Could economics be playing a factor? After all, it’s expensive to live in this region. Single seniors, especially women, live with less money than single men, (three in five women are living on less than $25,000 a year).
Single men do better with less than half living on less than 25,000 per year. But couples do better than both, with a median income of $56,560.
Men are staying healthier and may be living longer than they did a decade or two ago and that is good news because it seems couples do better financially than singles.
More are staying in the family home longer, but there are pockets of need, and as seniors age, they require more housing options, including those that can accommodate mobility or health challenges.
High costs for care: When it comes to aging gracefully, affordable housing is increasingly important but older seniors who can’t live at home will pay high costs for assisted living (independent units with limited health care) and nursing care at a seniors facility.
Fees are approximately $3,000 a month for a one bedroom assisted living unit and $5,626 a month for heavier care. Those costs will only continue to rise, prompting seniors to stay independent and in their own homes as long as possible.
Seniors will need help to stay at home: As seniors age, their mobility decreases and they will need help from family members or the community in future years.
Thankfully, a substantial number of seniors (70.7%) report that they are functionally in good health. More than 95% have a regular medical doctor and most feel engaged with the community.
In the Fraser North region, 84.5% of seniors feel a somewhat strong or very strong sense of community belonging. That number is up considerably from 66.5% who felt that way in 2003.That’s a good base on which to build an age-friendly community that will support seniors for years to come.