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When you or a loved one reach a point where senior care housing needs to be considered, it can seem like a daunting task. There are a number of different housing options available for the elderly, each suited to different levels of independence and care needs. Whether you are looking into housing for yourself or a family member, it is important to get an understanding of which option is most suitable.

Senior Housing Options

Independent Residences

These are the most similar to traditional rental arrangements and are ideal for seniors who are able to live independently and with a high degree of self-care. For the most part, residents are left to their own devices. The most noticeable difference between retirement and independent residences is that independent residences usually do not offer hospitality services or emergency response systems, though these services may still be offered at a price. It is important when evaluating a specific independent residence to inquire about what is and is not offered at the location.

Retirement Residences

Retirement residences offer independent living with supportive services such as meals, social activities and housekeeping. They may also offer assisted living services intended for individuals who are able to live relatively independently, but require help with certain daily activities. This can include things like dressing, using the washroom, eating, medication, or bathing. Because these services require “a laying on of hands”, they are regulated. An additional thing to note is that assisted living homes are required to offer basic supportive services such as meals, housekeeping, laundry, social and recreational opportunities, and a 24-hour emergency response system because of the more frail nature of residents. Residents are, however, able to be involved in choosing which services they are in need of.

Long Term Care Homes

This form of elderly care home is meant for individuals who require daily nursing and support. Despite the name, this type of housing does not necessarily need to be a long-term arrangement. Someone who has recently had surgery, for instance, would need their dressings changed regularly or possibly help with physical therapy—both of which would fall under long term care homes—until they are recovered enough to move out. In other words, a long-term care home is for seniors who are not able to care for themselves due to medical, psychological, or physical incapacitation. Access to long term care homes is controlled by the province, so you will need to go through a placement assessment before getting on a waitlist.

Campuses of Care

This is a unique form of housing since it combines the above three types in one location. By having all three living options available, campuses of care allow for an easier transition as a resident ages or a medical condition advances. This form of living is also valuable to couples who may have different care needs but do not want to be separated.

Respite Care

This is a special form of housing arrangement that is offered by certain assisted living, independent living, or long-term care homes. Respite care helps family caregivers by providing a short-term relief – a way for them to take time off from their duties. This arrangement allows the caregiver to take some time for themselves to refresh and relax while knowing that their loved one is still having their needs tended to. Residences solely dedicated to respite care are rare, but tend to have certain beds reserved for respite use.

Assessing Your Needs

Being able to select the right housing option requires an honest assessment of your current situation and needs. It can be uncomfortable to admit to needing help, but doing so can make things much easier and safer in the long run.

  • If you are living alone, are lonely, find cooking for yourself unsatisfactory and unhealthy and are finding housekeeping a chore, independent living with supports should be considered.
  • If you can take care of yourself but may need reminders about medication or occasional help with transport or certain chores, independent living with support may be for you also. Medication management is considered an assisted living service, so be sure to inquire about this service
  • If you are, or expect to be in need of regular assistance with daily tasks, especially those related to hygiene, eating, or mobility, homes that offer assisted living homes may be the advisable option.
  • Many assisted living residences are able to care for you if you or your loved one is bedridden, has advanced dementia or Alzheimer disease, requires complex medical care, and needs the regular assistance of a nurse, although these services are private pay and may prove to be costly over time.
  • Long term care homes may be preferred for those with high care needs. These are government-licensed and regulated, but the care is funded by the government and the resident usually only pays for “Room and Board”, thereby making these settings much more affordable.
  • If you are a family caregiver and are feeling frayed or overly stressed from your caregiving duties, taking advantage of respite care may help you recharge.

TheCareGuide.com is an online repository of information and guidance for seniors and their families that has been providing insights into elder care and housing solutions since 1996. Our guide can be used to help determine the best living and housing options for you or your loved ones. More information and advice on senior living solutions can be found by contacting us at 1-800-311-CARE (2273) or info@thecareguide.com.