Seniors Housing. A detailed explanation of what is available

Seniors Housing is a term that covers a diverse range of housing options catering the unique needs and wants of older Canadians. From [IndependentLivingLink] communities to specialized [PalliativeCareLink], from [Co-housing] to [LifeLeaseLink] and more. Understanding each type is essential for making an informed decision as older adults consider their current and future housing needs.

Because of the unique needs of older Canadians (seniors), the term ‘seniors housing’ quickly becomes a complicated and often overwhelming term as individuals begin to look for options based on their needs such as: health, mental, financial, and social requirements.  The many options can be identified within 2 major groups:

  1. Independent housing options provide seniors with a wide range of considerations from full independent and active lifestyles to adding care supports to their independence.  These options can include: [CondoSuitesLink], [LifeLeaseLink], [CoHousing], [CoLiving], [ActiveAdultLifestyleCommunitiesLink], [CondoSuitesLink], [SeniorsBuildingsLink], [SeniorsBuildingsNoCareLink], [IndependentLivingLink] such as rental/purchase, [SeniorsCooperativeLink], and [RetirementHomeLink].

    The [RetirementHomeLink] sector provides the largest range of housing and supportive care outside of social programs.  Although retirement homes differ in their pricing and levels of support, many offer support services as a service to their independent options such as:  [ShortStaysLink], [TrialStaysLink], [RespiteCareLink], [AssistedLivingLink], [IndependentLivingLink], [MemoryCareLink], and [PalliativeCareLink].
  2. Community funded Programs or not for profit provide seniors with a range of housing options targeting housing and care as provided or supplemented by government or not for profit initiatives.  These options can offer solutions based on financial ability, mental and physical disabilities, or inability for family to support.  This also provides levels of care beyond that of independent housing and care supports.  These options can include: [ComplexCareUnitLink], [ComplexContinuingCareLink], [LongTermCareHomeLink], [SupportiveHousingLink], [TransitionalCareLink], [MemoryCareLink], [PalliativeCareLink], [RentGearedToIncome],

 [IndependentLivingLink] - Perfect for seniors who maintain a level of independence but are looking for community living. These options often offer amenities tailored to senior lifestyles and usually are part of a larger [RetirementHomeLink] setting allowing for a transition to more care if required in the future. [SeniorsBuildingsLink] and [SeniorsCondosLink] are also among Independent Living options however, in general they offer few, if any amenities and if any care is required, it would have to be purchased privately or obtained through government sources.

[ActiveAdultLifestyleCommunitiesLink] – also known as Active Adult Communities or 55+ communities.  These are residential developments designed specifically for adults who are typically aged 55 and older. These communities offer a unique living environment tailored to the needs and preferences of active retirees.  Great option for an active lifestyle with socialization of other adults with a similar quality of life.

[RetirementHomeLink] - also known as a senior living community or retirement residence.  Many major and neighbouring Canadian cities offer retirement home living as a specialized housing option designed for seniors who are looking to live in a supportive and comfortable environment as they age. The retirement home sector offers a rent + care model as a combined service for a monthly fee.  The condition, types of amenities, levels of care support and resident experience varies from community to community as does the monthly fee.  These communities can offer  [IndependentLivingLink], [AssistedLivingLink], [MemoryCareLink], [RespiteCareLink], [ShortStaysLink], [TransitionalCareLink], and [PalliativeCareLink].


[AssistedLivingLink]: These residences (often part of a Retirement Community) provide additional support for daily activities. Residences vary, offering services like meal preparation, medication management, and personal care. Most offer only private accommodation but have a variety of suite sizes. Costs vary and are determined by the community.

[LongTermCareHomeLink]: Focusing on individuals who need more comprehensive care, these homes offer medical and personal support.  Long-Term Care includes a range of services from skilled nursing to specialized therapies. There is government funding for all [LongTermCareHomeLink], and they are licensed and monitored by the Ministry of Health. The Ministry sets the co-payment that each resident must pay, but they cover the care portion of the cost. An application must be submitted, and approval is dependent on availability / location and need.  There is often a waiting list.

[MemoryCareLink]: Dedicated to individuals with cognitive impairment such as Dementia or Alzheimer's, memory care provides a secure environment and specialized care and activities to support cognitive health. There are some stand-alone memory care residences however, many [RetirementHomeLink] also have secure memory care units as do [LongTermCareHomeLink]. The cost is determined by the specific home except in the case of long-term care, where it falls under the Ministry of Health and their pricing schedule.

[PalliativeCareLink]: Also referred to as End of Life Care. Tailored for those in advanced stages of illness, these services focus on comfort and quality of life at the end of their life. Palliative Care offers various options from in-home care to facility-based services both in the form of hospice and in-patient centres.

[RespiteCareLink]: Providing temporary relief for caregivers, respite care can be a crucial service for family caregivers needing short-term breaks. Both retirement homes and long-term care homes offer this service. It is often offered on a as needed basis, weekly or monthly options.

[Co-Housing]: Co-housing refers to a collaborative housing model where individuals or families come together to create a community with shared spaces and resources under ownership by the involve members. Residents actively participate in decision-making and often have their own private units while sharing communal facilities like kitchens and gardens. This approach fosters a sense of community and sustainability.  We hear more about Co-Housing opportunities as individuals continue to seek affordable housing with socialization within a single dwelling or residential environment. 

[Co-Living]: Co-living refers to a modern housing trend where individuals rent private bedrooms within shared accommodations, often in urban settings. Residents share common spaces such as kitchens and living rooms while enjoying the convenience of a furnished room and inclusive utilities. Co-Living is offered by a developer to members on a market-rate rental model.

[LifeLeaseLink]: Life Lease housing is an arrangement where residents purchase the right to occupy a unit for a specified period or for life, with a refundable or non-refundable deposit. This model is available among seniors looking for secure, maintenance-free housing in an active retirement/lifestyle community. It offers a form of tenure and financial flexibility while ensuring a sense of community and support. 

[SupportiveHousingLink]: Supportive housing provides a combination of affordable housing and support services for vulnerable populations, including individuals with mental health challenges or disabilities. It aims to enhance residents' quality of life and independence by offering on-site assistance such as counseling, healthcare, and life skills training.

[Rent Geared To Income]: Rent-geared-to-income (RGI) housing is a social housing program that adjusts rent based on an individual's or family's income. It is designed to make housing in affordable for low-to-moderate-income individuals and families. The rent is calculated as a percentage of the household's income, ensuring that people pay an amount they can afford. Rent geared to income availability is often subject to waiting lists.

[Seniors Buildings]: Seniors buildings are residential buildings specifically designed for older adults, offering amenities and services tailored to their needs. These buildings provide safe and accessible living environments, often with features like elevators, security, and social activities to promote a vibrant retirement lifestyle. They contribute to seniors' well-being and allow them to age in place with dignity. Care or assistance is not offered unless specified.  These are not Retirement Homes.

When selecting the right senior housing option you should also consider:

Accessibility and Senior-Friendly Transportation in [City Name]

Senior Living Amenities and Lifestyle Options in [City Name]

Community and Cultural Activities for Seniors in [City Name]

Cost Factors/Affordability

Care Options to allow for aging-in-place                                                                

Utilize this housing directory to navigate the senior housing landscape in your Canadian city of choice, ensuring a choice that combines comfort, care, and community engagement.