Housing options for seniors

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Our Tuesday blogging series is back!

We are pleased to announce that Esther Goldstein, author of the annual Ontario publication the "Comprehensive Guide to Retirement Living & Long-Term Care®" and administrator of the affiliated national website www.senioropolis.com has joined us for another year as a guest blogger for our Caregiver Tip Tuesdays series. Check out her latest blog below!

Housing Options for Seniors

In this session of Caregiver Tip Tuesday we look at the different housing options for your aging loved one.

For a senior looking to downsize or relocate to a residence for seniors, the first step is to determine the type of home you need or want to go to. Because this is not information most people seek out until they need it, the general population lacks an understanding of the various kinds of homes that exist and the differences between them. Terminology can be confusing and the first step in any ‘how to’ guide to finding seniors’ housing should be a simple summary of options.

Independent Seniors Apartments – are usually private rental apartments specifically for seniors. Residents are assumed to be independent though some buildings may have meals for purchase, social programs or sometimes even a doctor with regular hours. Some buildings have rent geared to income. Apartments with a ‘Supportive Housing’ component are basically independent buildings with an added care piece attached so while residents need to be mostly independent, there may be services available/provided by support workers that can assist them in staying in their own home. There may be subsidies available in some buildings depending on ownership and management. There are a limited number of these buildings so often there is a wait to get into them.

Retirement Residences or Communities – are usually privately owned structures with rental units (though lately there have been a few condo-type retirement settings as well), that have available services. Many will offer all meals and housekeeping services, most will also have an option of assistance with personal care (usually for a fee) and staff on site 24/7. Applications are made directly to the desired homes and there is no government subsidy, though there are a few homes owned by non-profit organizations that are less expensive. All homes set their own price and must be licensed and regulated by the Retirement Home Regulatory Authority. While most prefer that people are fairly independent on admission, many allow people to ‘age in place’ provided they are willing to pay for extra care and services should they require them.

Life Lease Units – this is a condominium-style unit where people are independent but the structure is usually attached to a seniors resource where services can be purchased, if needed. The structure is usually built by a non-profit corporation which holds title to the property. The tenant purchases a ‘leasehold interest’ in the unit that costs less than an average condo in the area. The amenities available, purchase price, maintenance fees and costs to purchase services will vary depending on the structure, sponsor, location etc.

Long-Term Care Homes/Nursing Homes – provide 24 hour assistance with activities of daily living (personal care, eating, bathing, medications) for the medically stable person. Generally, most people in Long-Term Care facilities cannot manage in their own homes any longer and require a fully supportive environment. The cost of care is paid for by the Ontario government but each resident is responsible for the cost of ‘room and board’ (called the co-payment), which is set by the government. Application is made through the local CCAC and up to 5 applications can be submitted at once. Homes are licensed, funded and inspected by the government.

Complex Continuing Care Facilities – are hospital-like settings for people that have complex medical needs that cannot be managed in a Long-Term Care home. People are usually admitted directly from an acute care hospital.

Esther Goldstein, B.Sc., B.S.W., RSW is a former acute care hospital social worker, the author of the annual Ontario publication the "Comprehensive Guide to Retirement Living & Long-Term Care®" and administrator of the affiliated national website www.senioropolis.com She is a seasoned lecturer and former educator at U of T School of Continuing Studies, sharing her knowledge with professionals, seniors and their families, by giving workshops and lectures at various venues on 'Senior Living Options' and related topics. Esther can be contacted at info@senioropolis.com