In many ways, you are who you are today because of the investment that your parents made in our growth. Providing a roof over your head, putting food on the table, and paying for various opportunities throughout life. As our closest family members enter their final years, it’s our turn to care and provide for them.
Yet caring for elderly patients can be demanding on both time and finances. You may be a parent yourself and find it difficult to juggle your finances and time to provide the necessary support and assistance for elderly patients.
Let’s explore the various support and assistance available for elderly patients and their caregivers in Canada. There are federal, provincial, and private organizations that help to lighten the load and nurture the experience of caring for the elderly.
Support Available for Family Caregivers
A Statistics Canada study reveals that nearly a quarter of Canadians over the age of 65 years old are caregivers themselves, not to mention younger generations that juggle work, children and caring.
Depending on how much time you spend caring for your family members' needs, you may have your hands full. Unfortunately, Nova Scotia is the only province in Canada that offers a caregiver allowance (through the Caregiver Benefit Program).
However, there are steps that can minimize financial stress for both the elderly patient and caregiver. There are also federal tax benefits and insurance benefits available to all eligible Canadian citizens.
Consider the following tips as a starting point assisting elderly patients.
- Research the various programs offered by the federal government that offer caregiver support
- Learn about the Canada Caregiver Credit when filing your tax returns
- Explore various options for your specific situation, such as the Disability Tax Credit for individuals with severe and prolonged impairment
- Stay up to date with assistance available from your local constituency office
Programs and Funding for Family Caregivers
There are various programs offered by the federal government, provincial offices, and private companies. Start your research here!
Federal Tax Credits
Federal tax credits provide elderly care assistance from the government, relieving the financial pressure of caring for the elderly and disabled.
The following tax credits can be claimed when completing your tax return. If in doubt, you can contact the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for assistance.
- Canada Caregiver Credit (CCC) is a non-refundable tax credit that combines the caregiver credit, the family caregiver credit and the credit for infirm dependents aged 18 or older
- Disability Tax Credit (DTC) is a non-refundable tax credit that reduces the amount of income tax paid by a person with a severe and prolonged impairment (which can be claimed by the caregiver)
- Home Accessibility Tax Credit (HATC) is a non-refundable tax credit to make renovations to the home, or purchase products for the home, that are needed for improved accessibility and movement
- Medical Expense Tax Credit (METC) is a non-refundable tax credit that provides tax relief for individuals and their caregivers who have experienced notable medical expenses for eligible purposes
- Veterans Affairs Canada offers the Caregiver Recognition Benefit which provides eligible Veterans with a tax-free lump sum grant
Claiming from insurance is another way to compensate for financial expenses and relieve the pressure of caring for the elderly. These caregiver insurance benefits are typically available on a national level.
- Employment insurance compassionate care is available if you need to take time off of work to care for a seriously ill family member at risk of dying within six months
- Employment insurance family caregiver benefit is available when caring for both adults and children who are critically ill or injured for up to 15 weeks and 35 weeks respectively
- Compassionate Care Benefit (CCB) program provides insurance benefits and job protection for eligible caregivers for up to 28 weeks when caring for family members
*Employer programs will vary and people should contact their provider to learn more.
While Nova Scotia is the only province that pays caregivers to look after the elderly, other provinces have programs and funding available to make the job easier.
- The Home & Vehicle Modification Program is funded by the Government of Ontario and helps improve mobility and daily living for those restricted by an injury, birth defect or long-term illness. Similar programs are available in British Columbia, Prince Edward Island (PEI), and Quebec (find out more here)
- Assistive Devices Program (ADP) is available to Ontario residents who live with a long-term physical disability, providing customized equipment such as wheelchairs and hearing aids
Private Programs and Funding
In addition to government subsidies, there are private organizations that assist caregivers in various ways. Some of these organizations are completely private, while others are a hybrid of private and government.
- Health Equipment Loan Program (HELP) is offered by the Canadian Red Cross and is available to residents of British Columbia, Alberta, New Brunswick, PEI, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Yukon. HELP provides health equipment to empower individuals to live with independence and dignity
- Ceridian Cares relies on corporate pledges, employee-initiated fundraising and volunteerism to provide grants for assistive devices as well as clothing, footwear, basic household needs and more
- Private, disease-specific organizations such as Muscular Dystrophy Canada and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Canada can provide funding for specific ailments
- Local branches of national charities may provide funding for assistive devices for those in need. Each branch may offer different forms of assistance and have varying requirements for eligibility. Some organizations to explore include Lions Club International, Kiwanis International, and Rotary International
The Importance of Financial Planning
While these grants and funding opportunities are available, there’s a lot to be said about preparation. Prepare for the future by better understanding your financial situation and establishing a savings plan.
There are a few caregiver resources that can be considered when planning, such as;
- Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) is a savings plan that helps individuals and their caregivers for long term financial security
- Canadian Retirement Income Calculator
- TD Canada Trust Retirement Savings Calculator
- RBC Your CareGiving Planner™
- Enquire with your bank about personal banking tools such as credit counselling services
- Establish an emergency fund for unforeseen circumstances
Finding support for taking care of elderly parents or loved ones is not an impossible task in Canada. A little bit of research can go a long way in finding grants for caregivers so that you can offer quality elderly assistance.Commencer