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Seniors Housing Options

Updated: Jul 2, 2019

For many families new to the world of senior living, exploring the wide range of seniors housing options available in Canada can be confusing and stressful. In this week's blog I endeavour to classify and explain each of these options with the hope that it will empower you to make #in4MED choices in seniors housing.

1. Independent Retirement Living

Independent retirement living communities are designed for relatively healthy, active seniors who need little or no assistance with their Activities of Daily Living (ADL's) such personal care, cooking and cleaning. These can be luxury communities that offer fine dining and golf courses, or they could be apartment or condominium complexes for seniors. They are typically private pay and offer optional services such as housekeeping, meals and transportation.

Independent Retirement Living communities are also called: Retirement Communities, Retirement Homes, Senior Apartments, Seniors Housing, 55+ Communities, Active Adult Communities, Adult Lifestyle Communities, Life-lease Communities.

Independent Retirement Living communities are mostly private pay. Depending on the location, level of luxury, square footage of the unit and additional services offered, costs can range from $1,400 to $3,500 per month.

2. Assisted Living

Assisted living communities provide supportive housing to seniors who need some assistance with their ADL's, but do not require specialised medical care and assistance.

Assisted living communities can be individual apartment buildings or larger communities spread across a few buildings or cottages. Residents can choose from private 1-2 bedroom apartments, or studios. Meal-service is typically included, so kitchenettes are more typical in assisted living units than full kitchens. Most communities also provide housekeeping services. Some communities have a Registered Nurse on site 24/7.

Assisted Living is also called: Retirement care home, Independent supportive living, Supportive housing, Congregate care

Assisted Living can be subsidised or paid through private pay. Costs will range from $1,500 to $5,000 per month depending on the location of the community, level of luxury, square footage of the unit, additional services available, and level of medical care needed.

Assisted living communities usually charge a flat rate that covers many basic services, with additional fees for extra services. At some communities, residents pay only for services they use. 

3. Residential Care Homes

Residential care homes offer a wide range of services, but have fewer residents. Most of them have live-in caretakers who prepare meals and perform housekeeping duties. Some residential care homes are run by nurses, and offer a higher level of medical care just like nursing homes. Recently, specialised residential care homes for seniors with dementia have also been developed.

Again, costs will range from $1,500 to $4,500 per month depending on the location of the community, level of luxury, square footage of the unit, additional services available, and level of medical care needed.

In some cases, I would prefer a residential care home to assisted living, as the care plan can be personalised and it might even turn out to be cheaper than assisted living. Specialised homes focusing on "memory care" (for example, for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer's) however, can be more expensive.

4. Subsidised Government Programs

There are two main types of subsidised Government programs: "Supportive Housing" and "Long Term Care Homes".

4a. Supportive Housing

Supportive housing can also be classified as a type of assisted living. Residents usually pay a fixed portion of their annual income to cover the rent and have access to assistance from on-site staff as and when needed. Simply put, supportive housing residents need light assistance a few times a week, whereas assisted living residents need moderate daily assistance.

4b. Long Term Care

Long-term care is intended for people with long-term functional or cognitive disabilities. It integrates the functions of health services and accommodation in a single setting, with access to 24 hour nursing care as well as assistance with ADL's. Long-term care also includes pain management and hospice care services.

Now that you are familiar with the various options, you probably know what you are looking for and what kind of seniors housing meets your needs. For more information, help or advice, please visit or call us today for your free 30 min consultation at 226-808-1005.


Healthcare Consultant, in4MED


The author of this blog post is a Physician with over 10 years of experience working in the healthcare system as a clinician, researcher and educator. She is passionate about healthcare for older adults and strives to be a resourceful inspiration to caregivers.

*No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional.

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