Care Planning for Disabled Adult Children

Most parents take for granted that at some point their children will get a job and move out, becoming independent adults who may eventually help care for their aging parents.  It seems the natural cycle of life.  But for many seniors, their caring years for children are indefinite.  Children with mental or physical disabilities may rely on aging parents for care their entire lives.

Seniors with disabled adult children worry about who will care for their child when they are not able to due to health issues or after their own death.   Many such parents will have starting putting money away from a young age in a Special Needs Trust and researched care options for the future.  But what happens when the money or support system isn’t in place?

In Canada, an adult disabled child may qualify to receive government disability benefits, but depending on the child’s ability to work or live independently or in a group setting, this may not be enough support.   By contributing to a Registered Disability Savings Plan, parents can put money aside which can be matched by the government up to $70,000 over your lifetime.

Even with savings in place and the financial help of community support programs, the most weighing question for many older adults caring for disabled children is where will they live and who will assume their care after they become too frail or after death?

Starting the planning process well before the need arises is perhaps the best strategy for caring for the needs of an adult child when parents are no longer physically, mentally or emotionally capable.  Each province, territory or state runs things a little differently but in Ontario for example, you can begin to explore options by contacting the Ontario Disability Support Program which may offer income and employment support.

By reaching out to Developmental Services Ontario (, respite care, residential support and community participation support options can also be explored.  Take the time to visit various facilities to see what might be a good match and get on waiting lists, even years before the need arises to keep options opens.

Writing a will to plan for the needs of a disabled adult child is also an important part of the planning process for older age.  Often a Henson Trust, sometimes called an Absolute Discretionary Trust is created within a will to provide for a disabled loved one without disqualifying them from receiving disability benefits.  In this case, a trustee is appointed to act on your behalf.  The trustee is usually a spouse but can also be be another trusted person or institution who you believe to have good judgement and business sense.

To learn more about the Ontario Disability Support Program visit

To read about disability benefits visit Employment and Social Development Canada at: .