Seniors in British Columbia seeing their incomes shrinking

Since 2013, B.C. senior families saw their annual median income fall 5.7 per cent.

Last month I wrote about the annual report released from the Office of the B.C. Seniors Advocate that painted a somewhat bleak picture about the resources available from the public system (government) in seniors care.

Now, on the heels of that annual report, comes a new report this week also from the office of the B.C. Seniors Advocate expressing concern about the declining incomes of B.C. seniors. And this problem is particularly acute to seniors in B.C. compared to other parts of the country.

For instance, since 2013, B.C. senior families saw their annual median income fall 5.7 per cent. For a single B.C. senior the decline is even steeper with a 6.3 per cent drop. Contrast this with the national averages, which show a 1.9 per cent increase for senior families and a 2.3 per cent increase for single seniors. The general assumption that seniors are well off is just not true. While it may be the case for the smaller percentage of seniors, these statistics show otherwise.

Hearing last month the confirmation that publicly provided care options are limited and can be difficult to access, followed by the news that B.C. seniors incomes are decreasing, is a double whammy for our seniors. Indeed, the trend in seniors care is driving toward in-home care. Seniors generally want to remain at home. But if seniors in B.C. experience increased difficulty in accessing publicly funded care, they must reach out to private care. However, with incomes of B.C. seniors declining, thereby making private care potentially out of reach, or the amount of care insufficient, this is an alarming trend for our seniors. How can seniors afford the care they need with reducing incomes? It’s rather disappointing news for our seniors.

The B.C. Seniors Advocate, Isobel Mackenzie, surmises that the decrease in B.C. seniors’ incomes has various contributing factors and is most likely due to the following reasons:

• record low interest rates

• life expectancy exceeding the time frame of a Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF), and the inability of private pensions to provide cost of living increases

• In B.C., the lowest income seniors (54,000) receive the B.C. Seniors Supplement, which has remained the same amount for over 25 years

• Over 20 per cent of B.C. seniors are renters, and 35 per cent do not live in one of the overheated real estate markets

The painted picture is not an attractive one for many B.C. seniors. Planning for aging and care needs is becoming more and more critical. If you, or a loved one, have not started planning, now is the time to act. Reaching out to a trusted financial planner, or a care provider like Nurse Next Door, to discuss your potential future care costs is often a great way to start.

» Chris Wilkinson is the owner/GM for Nurse Next Door Home Care Services for Cowichan and central Vancouver Island. For more info visit www.Nurse or for questions or a free in-home caring consult call 250-748-4357, or email Cowichan@NurseNext