Thousands of Canadians are waiting for knee replacements, a procedure that even pre-pandemic had wait times of six months or more, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information.sturti/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

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Bill Stevenson has been waiting years for a new left knee. The active 84-year-old, a former civil servant, had his right knee replaced seven years ago. “I played squash three times a week for about 25 years,” he says. “The surgeon thought all that stopping and starting wore out the meniscus in my knees.”

The right knee surgery happened fairly quickly, but the procedure for the left has been pushed back several times due to COVID-19. Mr. Stevenson is trying to stay positive, but his lack of mobility is frustrating. “I use a cane if I’m going more than half a block,” he says. “After a block, I have to slow down and rest.”

Mr. Stevenson is one of thousands of Canadians waiting for a knee replacement, a procedure that even pre-pandemic had wait times of six months or more, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information. Anna Sharratt reports.

Can this married man in his late 50s afford to retire in a couple of years?

With plenty of savings and a valuable house in Toronto, Arthur and Elena are thinking of downsizing, beefing up their investment portfolio and giving substantial sums to each of their two children for a down payment on a first home. Arthur, who is 57, wants to retire from his $250,000-a-year job in a year or so. Elena, who is 58, is no longer working. Both have had lengthy management jobs in the health care field.

Their tentative plan is to sell their city house, buy a smaller place and spend more time at their country house in Quebec. Arthur might look for part-time work in the same field or do something entirely different, he writes in an e-mail. They also want to get more involved with their community, do some volunteering and travel more.

Both have locked-in retirement accounts (LIRAs) from previous employers and Arthur has a defined-benefit pension plan. They wonder which accounts they should draw from first, what tax strategies they might use to keep income tax to a minimum and when to start taking Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security benefits. Their after-tax spending goal is $120,000 a year, indexed to inflation. “Are we able to retire in 2023 and pursue more part-time work or volunteering?” Arthur asks.

In the latest Financial Facelift article, Matthew Sears, a vice-president and financial planner at T. E. Wealth in Toronto, looks at Arthur and Elena’s situation. As well as being a certified financial planner, Mr. Sears holds the chartered financial analyst, or CFA, designation.

How this retiree turned transition into her next project

In the latest Tales from the Golden Age article, Maureen Atkinson, 71, talks about her ‘retirement’ after selling the business she ran for decades with her husband, John, who suddenly passed away three months later. “I stayed on a bit longer at the company because I needed to have that in my life. I didn’t want to become a professional widow,” says Ms. Atkinson, who now runs an online community for women in transition called Lifeshiift.

“Transition can be retirement. It can be the death of a spouse or something else. With women my age, there’s a tendency to think we’re invisible – and we’re definitively not. We’re travelling; we’re starting new businesses. We’ve got lots to do and contribute,” she tells Brenda Bouw.

Clearing up confusion about RRIFs, RRSPs and royalties

In the latest Investor Clinic article, John Heinzl answers some reader questions about registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) and registered retirement income funds (RRIFs). One question is about how to manage RRIF withdrawals from a couple’s two accounts to save tax.

It’s about time for this crazy RRSP rule to change

Some laws don’t make much sense, writes Tim Cestnick in his latest Tax Matters column for the Globe. In particular, Mr. Cestnick looks at a tax law around RRSPs and “what can go wrong under our crazy tax law if you want to help your spouse save for retirement.” He also looks at a few strategies couples might want to use to save tax.

In case you missed it

How to keep your tattoos looking good as you age

Monica Hamilton got her first tattoo at age 20 – a fairy on the left side of her chest. She loved it and over the years got several more symbolizing people she loves and landmark moments. But after living a life and raising two children, she noticed her fairy had changed along with her body. “By my early 30s, I had had two kids and had gained weight. The fairy was stretched and looking long and skinny,” says Ms. Hamilton, 49, an investment advisor associate from Sylvan Lake, Alta.

She opted to have a tattoo artist touch it up, extending the fairy’s wings, plumping up the profile shape and brightening the colours. She loves it. “My body continues to change and the tattoo changes with it,” she says. “I don’t think I will touch it up again. She and I are aging together.”

Tattoos, like the skin they’re in, are subject to the sands of time. Dene Moore reports.

The pros and cons of buying life insurance when you’re older

Life insurance isn’t usually top of mind for Canadian retirees focused on generating income from their investment portfolios. Yet certain types of life insurance can play an important role in the lives of older Canadians, especially when it comes to leaving money to children or charities.

“People often say, ‘The kids are out of the house. I no longer have a mortgage, and so why would I pay a premium for coverage for life insurance?’” says Christopher Dewdney, a certified financial planner at Dewdney and Company in Toronto. “But that’s a misconception.”

Many Canadians are familiar with term life insurance – which lasts for between one to 50 years depending on the policy – and accounts for about three-quarters of the market, according to a Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association report. In the event of a death, term coverage helps Canadians replace lost income to support growing families.

Term life is often unsuitable for retirees, but permanent life insurance – where the benefit is paid to beneficiaries on death – can often be a good addition to a financial plan, says Daryl Diamond, an adviser with Diamond Retirement Planning in Winnipeg.

“There are really only two reasons to have life insurance: One is to create an estate, and the second is to conserve the estate you’ve created,” says Mr. Diamond, a certified financial planner and author of Retirement for the Record. Joel Schlesinger reports.

What else we’re reading

Retirement communities across Canada are going all in on holistic wellness

The reputation of long-term care homes has taken a hit during the pandemic years due to mismanagement, a lack of preparation, understaffing and an assortment of other woes. Many have also failed to meet the emotional and physical needs of their residents.

But some long-term care homes are trying to do things a bit differently, according to this article in Maclean’s – they’re taking a wellness-first approach for their residents through unique amenities and programs designed to spark late-life joy.

The article looks at communities such as Tapestry at Village Gate West, an emerging retirement organization that operates four communities across Canada – three in B.C. and one in Toronto. Village Gate West is located in Etobicoke in Toronto’s west end and is oriented around “seven dimensions of wellness” – physical, emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual, environmental and occupational. The article says residents enjoy amenities like a full-service salon and spa, a high-definition golf simulator, a theatre and a creative arts centre.

Ask Sixty Five

Question: Could you please point me in the right direction to find a qualified expert or experts who can help with estate planning, tax implications and how to pass on wealth and property as painless and efficient as possible?

We asked the Globe’s personal finance columnist Rob Carrick to answer this one:

You’ll find plenty of leads to research on this database of fee-for-service financial planners who charge an hourly or flat rate and don’t sell products. Planners indicate their specialties, including estate and tax planning.

Have a question about money or lifestyle topics for seniors, or want to suggest a story idea for the Sixty Five series? Please e-mail us at [email protected] and we will find experts and answer your questions in future newsletters.

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