Planning for long-term care

As you move towards retirement, the last thing on your mind may be planning for long-term care. However, changes in your health can occur suddenly and at any time. It’s wise to look ahead and plan for the unexpected so you can make the most of the resources available to you.

On this page we answer:

What is long-term care?

Long-term care includes a variety of medical and non-medical services and accommodations you may require due to aging, illness, injury or disability. These services and accommodations can help you maintain your quality of life. Long-term care can take place in the home or community, a retirement home or in a long-term care facility.

  • Home or community care – If you wish to remain in your own home for as long as possible, you can apply for government subsidized home care. A care coordinator will determine the number hours of home care you are eligible for each week. And if you feel you need more hours, you could pay $25-$60 an hour out-of-pocket. You can learn more about accessing home or community care.
  • Retirement home and assisted living care – If you are independent, but no longer wish to live in your current home, you may choose to move into a retirement or assisted living home. These privately owned residences provide accommodation, meals and activities, but are not covered by government subsidies. The cost can range a lot depending on where you live and the type of accommodation you choose.

The Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority is an independent, self-funded, not-for-profit regulator mandated by the government to protect and ensure the safety and well-being of seniors living in Ontario’s retirement homes.

Learn more about retirement homes or assisted living care.

  • Long-term care facility – When you can no longer live independently, and need 24-hour care or supervision, you can apply for long-term facility care. These facilities (also called nursing homes, municipal homes for the aged or charitable homes) are operated by the provincial government. While the province pays for your care, you are still required to pay for your accommodation. Learn more about paying for long-term care.

How do you prepare for long-term care?

Long-term care costs could be significant. It’s important to think about saving and identifying funds that could be used for your future care. If possible, talk to a financial advisor who can help you create a financial planFinancial plan Your financial plan should cover every aspect of your finances: saving and investing, paying down debt, insurance, taxes, retirement planning and estate planning.+ read full definition for long-term care.

One funding option you could explore is long-term care insurance — a living benefit that can cover a portion of your long-term care costs.

To prepare for long-term care:

  • Ensure that all your legal documentation, including powers of attorney for property and personal care are kept up to date. You should also consider documenting your personal wishes and choices concerning your care. Store these documents in one location, accessible to those who need them.
  • If you want to remain independent in your own home, ensure it remains a good fit for you as you age and if your health changes. Research the availability and cost of assistive devices and home modifications to ensure you can live safely and securely on your own.

What are the benefits of planning ahead?

Planning for the possibility of long-term care gives you time to learn about the services available in your community and what they cost before you need them.

By planning ahead, you can:

  • Make important decisions while you are still capable, both physically and mentally.
  • Ensure family and care professionals know your care wishes, should you be unable to communicate them yourself.
  • Have the time to explore options available to you to pay for long-term care.

The best time to plan for long-term care is before you need it.

What should caregivers know about long-term care?

Taking care of a loved one can be challenging emotionally and financially. This kind of help can take various forms, like helping them make tough financial decisions or covering some of their expenses.

If you have to take unpaid time off work to help provide care, that can add financial strain and may affect your own financial goals.

More than half of women aged 15 and older (52%, or almost 8.4 million women) provided some form of care to children and care-dependent adults, whether paid or unpaid.

When life changes, the best way to prepare financially is to do your research. Ask questions and get to know all your options. There are supports you may be eligible for.

You can learn more about income support, benefits for health costs and other disability supports from the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).

If you’re the caregiver for a family member with a disability or illness, you can claim certain taxTax A fee the government charges on income, property, and sales. The money goes to finance government programs and other costs.+ read full definition credits when you file your tax return. Learn more about caregivers and tax.

Being a caregiver is hard work. It’s important to take care of yourself too.

There are respite services available to help you if you need a break.


Changes in your health can occur suddenly and at any time. That’s why it’s wise to look ahead and plan for the unexpected. Long-term care could:

  • Take place in the home or community, a retirement home or in a long-term care facility.
  • Be costly — think about saving and identifying funds now that could be used for your future care.
  • Involve documenting your personal wishes and choices concerning your care. Ensure your legal documentation is kept up to date, in one location, accessible to those who need to see it.
  • Require assistive devices and home modifications if you want to live safely and securely in your own home.


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