Reality check

Moving into a nursing home is expensive. That’s a given. But many don’t realize just how expensive until it happens to them or to a member of their family.

Recently this happened to someone I know. She’s a widow, and was taken to the hospital by ambulance after suddenly taking ill. After 11 days in hospital, the family was told she no longer qualified for a bed. Going home was not an option so the family investigated nursing homes. Their first choice was a home that wasn’t even built, so they were put on a waiting list. In the interim, the family was able to move the widow to their second choice of nursing home. The cost for a ward bed was $1,277.95 a month or $15,335.40 a year. After submitting a copy of her previous years income tax, the nursing home indicated she wasn’t eligible for assistance and would have to pay 100 percent of the costs.

The widow required a special type of wheelchair to get to meals. She had to be assessed, at a cost of $100, in order to determine if the Ontario government would help foot the bill. While the government paid for most of the cost of the wheelchair, the widow still had to cover the balance of $525.37.

Other costs had to be factored to this woman’s stay in a nursing home. Incontinent supplies cost $70 a month, and chiropody/pedicure help at least once every two months costs $150. Add this to all of the other charges and it adds up to a total of $16,951.35 minimum for a one year stay in the nursing home.

So where does the money come to pay for the expenses? The patient has no work-related pension or benefits or any Canada pension income. She does receive old age pension and some investment income. She owns her own home and car, which will have to be put up for sale to finance the cost of staying in the nursing home.

The stated six-and-a-half year average stay of nursing home clients will result in a minimum cost of $110,183.74 over the years. Would you be prepared to shoulder such costs when it happens? Say nothing of the emotional toll it will take on you?

Many of us are not.