Guide to Seniors Housing in Canada

Monday Jul 30th, 2018


As of 2013, Canada has one of the highest average life expectancies for men and women in the world. With more Canadians living past 80, and an aging population that’s expected to quadruple by 2051, the number of senior housing options has grown dramatically. For many families new to the world of senior living, navigating the vast array of senior care types can be an increasingly complex endeavor. With so many options available, it’s easy for families to feel overwhelmed during a senior care search. We’re providing this current market information with the hope that it will empower you to make informed, confident choices in senior housing.


Independent living communities are designed for healthy, active seniors who do not need assistance with activities of daily living such as grooming, personal care and eating. Independent living for seniors can range from luxury communities that offer gourmet dining and golf courses to age restricted apartment or condominium complexes for older adults. These communities are typically private pay and offer optional services such as housekeeping, meals and laundry.

Other Names for Independent Living

  • 55+ Communities
  • Active Adult Communities
  • Adult Lifestyle Communities
  • Life-lease Communities
  • Retirement Communities
  • Retirement Homes
  • Senior Apartments
  • Seniors Housing

Independent Retirement Living Features

Typical independent living features include:

  • Apartment-style one to two bedroom units in a community setting
  • Convenient location to retail shops and recreational activities
  • Community features like gardens, pools, golf courses, hair salons and fitness centers
  • Options for housekeeping, meals, laundry and transportation

Cost of Independent Retirement Living

Independent living retirement homes are mostly private pay. Depending on the location, community and amenity options, costs can range from $1,400 to $3,500 per month.


Assisted living communities provide supportive housing and care to seniors who need some assistance with daily tasks, but who do not require the skilled care provided at a long-term care home. Assisted living is a viable option for adults who are mostly independent, but who require some assistance with day-to-day living, or anticipate needing assistance in the near future.

Assisted living communities come in all shapes and sizes. They can be towering apartment buildings in urban centers, sprawling complexes in the suburbs or more intimate communities catering to a relatively small number of residents, and can be found in most Canadian cities. Residents live in private one-to-two-bedroom apartments, studios or “bachelors units.” Meal-service is included, so kitchenettes are more typical in assisted living units than full kitchens.

Other Names for Assisted Living

  • Congregate care
  • Independent supportive living
  • Retirement care
  • Supportive Housing

Assisted Living Features

Typical assisted living features and services include:

  • Access to visiting or on-staff health care professionals such as occupational therapists, physical therapists, nurses and physicians
  • Assistance with bathing, dressing, grooming, eating and mobility
  • Health and exercise programs
  • Housekeeping and laundry
  • Meal service
  • Medication management
  • Social and recreational activities
  • Transportation to appointments and events

Cost of Assisted Living

Assisted living can be subsidized or paid through private pay. Costs will range from $1,500 to $5,000, dependent on location of the community, amenity options, and if medical or health services are needed.

Assisted living costs are dependent on a number of factors:

  • Level of luxury
  • Location
  • Services required
  • Size of apartment
  • Type of residence

Assisted living communities often charge a flat rate that covers many basic services, with additional fees for special services. Other communities will charge a fee for each service on an “a la carte” basis, allowing residents to pay only for services they use. In addition to these charges, entrance fees and deposits may also be required. With so much variation in pricing structures, it’s important to ask the communities you’re touring about costs.


Residential care homes are traditional private homes that have been adapted to provide assisted care services for a smaller group of residents, usually no more than 15. These homes offer a more intimate, home-like community feeling, and offer both short-term and long-term care

Other Names for Residential Care Homes

  • Abbeyfield Style Assisted Living
  • Adult Family Home
  • Adult Foster Care home
  • Family Care Homes
  • Care Homes
  • Group Home
  • Personal Care Home

Residential Care Home Services

Residential care homes offer a level of care that varies widely from home to home, but in general, live-in caretakers prepare meals and provide assistance with activities of daily living. Some residential care homes employ, or are operated by, nurses, and can offer care comparable to that in a nursing home, often filling the gap between independent living and nursing homes There are also residential care homes that specialize in memory care. Typical residential care home services include:

  • Comfortable private or semi-private rooms
  • Daily home-cooked meals
  • Housekeeping and laundry service
  • Medication management
  • Social programs and activities
  • Transportation to appointments and events

Cost of Residential Care Homes

Living in a residential care home can be more affordable than assisted living care, dependent on the situation. However, costs can vary depending on the geographical location of the residential care home, as well as the types of services needed. Costs can range anywhere from $1,500 per month to $4,500 each month, and dementia care can cost even more.


Seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease require special care typically referred to as memory care. This treatment is usually provided in a secure area of an assisted living community or nursing home, most often on a dedicated floor or in a designated wing. The secure aspect of memory care communities is intended to prevent residents from wandering off and becoming lost, which is a common and dangerous symptom of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The security usually takes the form of alarmed exit doors rather than locked exit doors.

Residents usually live in apartments, private or semi-private rooms. They participate in structured activities conducted by staff members specifically trained to care for those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Other Names for Alzheimer’s Care / Dementia Care

  • Alzheimer’s Care
  • Alzheimer’s Special Care Unit
  • Memory Care

Alzheimer’s Care / Dementia Care Services

Dementia care offers round-the-clock care, along with activities and health management for residents. Typical dementia care services include:

  • Comfortable private, or semi-private rooms
  • Three daily meals
  • Housekeeping and laundry service
  • Medication management
  • Exercise and physical therapy programs
  • Social programs and activities
  • 24-hour staffing and personal assistance

Cost of Dementia Care

Memory care requires a higher level of care, a higher caregiver to resident ration and all staff must have additional training in dementia care to ensure the safety of all the residents.  While cost does vary widely by community, prices tend to run from $3,000 to $7,000 per month. Where your costs fall within that range will depend on the following factors:

  • Geographic location of the facility
  • Level of care needed
  • Room size and level of privacy


Supportive Housing

Supportive housing is essentially the lightest form of assisted living, and often subsidized by the government. Tenants generally pay a fixed portion of their annual income to cover the rent and have access to assistance from on-site staff on an as-needed basis. While there are similarities between supportive housing and assisted living, generally speaking, supportive housing residents need light assistance a few times a week, rather than moderate daily assistance.

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