With more and more Canadians living past the age of 80, the number of senior and retirement housing options has grown. It can be confusing and overwhelming for families navigating the vast array of senior care options, so understanding what’s available is your first step. Service is at the heart of what we do at Orchard Garden Seniors Community, which is why we’ve put together this simple senior care guide to help you decide what’s best for you and your loved ones. 

There are three basic levels of seniors living and care available in Canada – some of which can be broken down further into more specific care categories.

1. Independent Seniors Living
Independent Living Communities, also called 55+ communities, active adult communities, retirement communities, retirement homes, senior homes, and senior housing, are for seniors with no major health issues. Typically, these communities offer services and amenities for seniors that take care of the domestic details like cooking, cleaning, and home maintenance. With the freedom provided by these services, seniors can enjoy active lifestyles by pursuing hobbies, taking part in a community of like-minded peers for social time, and participating in the social and recreational calendars organized by their seniors living residence. 

Basically, independent seniors communities offer inclusive living so seniors can rest, relax, and enjoy their retirement. An additional benefit of some independent living communities is continuity of care. Residents can start out in independent living, but move into assisted living later if necessary – all without having from the community that they’ve come to call home.

Independent living communities are private pay. 

2. Assisted/Supportive Living
Designated as Assisted Living in British Columbia and Supportive Living in Alberta, this type of care is also often referred to as independent supportive living, retirement care, congregate care, or supportive housing. Assisted and supportive living blends the independence of having your own space and making your own decisions with a supportive environment where help is given in daily tasks like grooming, bathing, and mobility challenges.

Many assisted living communities offer the same amenities and services as independent retirement communities – just with additional personal care services. Things like housekeeping and laundry, meal service, and health and exercise programs are common in these seniors communities with the added bonus of additional medication management and access to on-staff health care professionals. 

There are several levels and styles of designated assisted and supportive living and it is always best to check with your specific seniors community to see if they offer the specific care you need. In addition, assisted and supportive living communities can be subsidized (partially paid for by the government) or private pay. 

3. Long Term Care 
Long term care homes, also known as nursing homes and community care facilities, are for seniors who can no longer safely live on their own and who require 24/7 professional nursing care. These care homes are typically government subsidized, although, because of the long wait list for approval, some families may choose to pursue private pay long term care options. 

In addition to professional medical care, long term care homes provide residents with services like freshly prepared meals, housekeeping and laundry, exercise and physical therapy programs, pain and medication management, and social programs and activities.

Seniors who are qualified for subsidized long term care are encouraged to visit prospective care homes and decide which home they prefer, but placements take into account the client’s level of needs, which means that some seniors may be placed in the first available long term care residence rather than their first choice community.  

As you begin your seniors living journey, knowing the types of available care and the terms used to describe different services will make it easier for you to find the right care that will keep you or your loved one safe, cared for, and connected. 

Orchard Gardens, formerly known as Fernbrae Manor, is an independent living community offering quality services, active living, and great amenities for Kelowna’s seniors. Learn more about joining our community!