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There comes a point in our golden years when serious consideration should be given to the possibility of moving to a retirement home. Whether for financial, medical, geographic, lifestyle, or comfort reasons, your current living arrangements may not be able to meet your needs properly. Fortunately, there are many different forms of retirement residences that cater to the needs of seniors and can provide socialization and an sense of community. Not all retirement options in Toronto or Ottawa are medical in nature and several are simply senior-focused living arrangements that are designed to support people in their elder years.

Retirement Residence Choices

Retirement Lifestyle Communities

These go by different names such as "adult lifestyle communities," or "active adult retirement communities," but they all refer to the same concept. This sort of retirement living option is a form of senior-oriented community that offers social activities and leisure options. The services available will vary depending on the community, but they tend to fall along the lines of country club-style activities (tennis, swimming, hiking, etc.), transport services to locations around town like the grocery store and social activities with neighbours. Accommodations can comprise anything including detached units, townhouses, bungalows, and condominiums.

Independent “Supportive” Living Retirement Homes

This is a term for housing arrangements designed for seniors. It is best understood as any collection of apartments, or to a lesser extent condominiums, that are designed to address   the social, nutritional and housekeeping needs of seniors. Residents are able to take care of themselves and are free to go about their days and interact with one another. These types of residences usually allow residents to age in place by offering them assisted living services, initially in the comfort and privacy of their suites.

Assisted Living

Sometimes known as "residential care," this is an arrangement suited to seniors who are no longer able to care for themselves but may need assistance with certain physical or medical needs such as laundry, meal preparation, remembering to take medicine, or dressing/undressing themselves. Care aides or personal support workers are regularly available to assist with a variety of tasks. Meal plans are most times included. Assisted living is best understood as a middle ground between independent supportive living and the round-the-clock “medical” care and supervision in long term care homes.

Long Term Care

Sometimes called a "nursing home," long term care homes are designed to offer the highest level of medical care outside of a hospital setting. Nurses are on site far more regularly than in other living arrangements and advanced medical care can be rendered more easily. Long term care options are useful if the resident is bedridden, requires a complex medication (like chemotherapy), or has a worsening chronic illness. Temporary stays in long-term care homes are also used as part of the post-surgery transition, where a person can have their dressings tended to as they regain strength and the ability to return home.

Alzheimer Disease Care Home

This is a specific form of retirement or long term care that caters to seniors experiencing Alzheimer disease or other forms of dementia. Alzheimer disease care homes are specially designed to offer a home-like environment that minimizes the sense of change or excess stimulation that can agitate or upset those with the disease. Staff are also specifically trained in assisting family members coping with the challenges Alzheimer disease can impose and care focuses on social interaction.  Many of these settings provide for a secure environment to minimize the risk of those who are at risk of wandering.

Retirement Ownership Options

In addition to the above choices, there are also certain ownership options that allow seniors to more reasonably afford accommodations outside of the care system. Some of the following may also fall under independent living or assisted care, but they can also be part of regular living arrangements.

Retirement Condo

A form of condominium that focuses on seniors. As with normal condominiums, residents own their suites and have equity in building affairs. There are also common facilities available like fitness centres, gardens, pools, etc.

Life Lease

This is a form of ownership where a lease is provided to seniors. Life leases are normally only provided to seniors above a certain age.

Seniors’ Rental Apartments

These are the typical form of retirement living tenure, whether independent supportive or assisted living. These arrangements give seniors a place to live among those similar in age, and to thrive in a setting that offers the social, nutritional and home making supports as well as the ability to obtain more services as they age.

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 retirement residence 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.

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