Many Chinese parents believe that the best way to help your grown-up children financially is to help them buy a home. But stats about the surge of senior demographic in Canada and the health crisis that aging immigrants are facing may make you think twice about that strategy.
It takes decades for parents to support their children, and it is certainly fair for adult children to help their senior parents in return – especially when they suffer from chronical conditions or lose independence to mental illness. The Chinese filial piety culture has only made the taking care of senior parents a moral obligation for adult children. However, the impending caregiver burden may cause significant additional expenses to your adult children, taking a heavy toll on their financial wellbeing.
According to latest census, Canada faces a growing aging demographic, with senior population exceeding that of children the first time in the census history. It is estimated that almost one quarter of the population will be 65 and older by 2031.
Canadian seniors live much longer, but age-related disease tend to be compressed into a shorter period at the end of life. Despite the exsistance of Canada’s public healthcare system, part of the medical costs incurred by elders -- particularly those in low income groups, will inevidably become a responsibility for their adult children. A report issued by CIBC Economics has found that close to two million Canadians carry caregiving costs for their senior parents 65 year and older, with average expenses fetching as high as $3300 a year. And the prices will keep surging, and are expected to grow by 20 per cent over the next 10 years (after inflation).
But when considering the lost income due to time taken off from work, the actual cost of looking after aged parents is much higher than $3300 a year. According to the CIBC report, by adding up the direct and indirect costs, the total expenses may reach as high as $33-billion annually.
However, if the stats have only highlighted the healthcare challenges for the general population, immigrant seniors may face a much worse situation. A new study shows that elders in racialized minority groups are struggling with an inferior health status than their Canadian counterpart, which would lead to much higher healthcare costs for their adult children.
According to a study by the Wellesley Institute, immigrant seniors, especially those racial minorities and from non-English background, reported poorer health status, in both overall health and mental health than non-immigrant seniors.
With China being the third largest source of country for senior immigrants in the sample, the study points out that racialized identity, English language deficiency and immigrant background have an adverse impact on social determinants of health – such as income, employment status, sense of belonging and healthcare access.
According to the study, while only 19 per cent of Canadian boomers reported fair/poor health, 34 per cent of recent and mid-term immigrants and 26 per cent of long-term immigrants rated their health as fair/poor. Similar patterns were found in self-reported mental health. Racialized immigrants are also twice likely to rely on social assistance, earning a low income, and more likely to be self-employed and to report lack of strong sense of belonging.
A good health is the best wealth. Adapting to more healthy lifestyles, such as eat better, smoke less and exercise more -- are the keys to improve physical and mental health. Without taking actions at a younger age, you may face health crisis later on, leaving your adult children to face the unenviable onslaught of distress and caregiving bill shock in the near future.
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