Dad’s Next Home?

My brother and I are starting to think that it is time to have Dad move to a seniors place.

Do you have any suggestions for us, ideas of costs, what to think about and even how to begin?


Hi Mike:

It can indeed be a very hard task to determine a place that suits your Dad’s needs. I recently wrote an article for Caregiver Solutions Magazine. It has many tips and ideas for you to think about.


The costs of seniors’ residences.

Joyce is 79 and thinks that it is time to move on. She has lived alone in her home for over 12 years. She wonders what life would be like to not worry about making all her own meals, not having to climb stairs and the potential for making new friends. She has asked her daughter Martha to help her explore her options. Joyce’s mind spins with questions. What’s out there, what can she afford, can a new place manage all her needs today and in the future, will she make new friends, will she be close to her doctor and favourite stores?

As a senior, Joyce is in an ever growing segment of the population who is aging, and needing new options for housing. According to the 2006 Census Housing Series report “The Housing Conditions of Canada’s Seniors”:The senior population continues to grow at a faster pace. Between 2001 and 2006 the number of seniors in Canada rose from 3.9 million to 4.3 million, an increase of 11.4%. The proportion of seniors in the total population rose from 13% to 13.7%. The growth in the number of seniors aged 75 or more was especially high, with an increase of 17% between 2001 and 2006. Seniors aged 75 or more represented 6.5% of the Canadian population in 2006 compared to 5.8% in 2001. By 2036, nearly a quarter of the Canadian population will be seniors, compared with over 1/8 of the population in 2006.

Joyce is at an interesting transition point in her life. She is likely enough to be able to decide her own next home. She knows many people that mostly because of health reasons did not have the luxury to plan their future homes. Many had their future homes decided by others. Let’s watch as Joyce and Martha explore several residents’ options.

As part of their research Martha found some interesting information on several Ontario Government websites. They learned that there are 3 types of options. They are:

Independent Living

“Independent Living (means that you are looking after yourself in your own place. You might hire someone to come in and help with household tasks or purchase outside services such as meals. But the place you live–your family home, condominium, rental apartment, government-subsidized apartment, co-op, or other location—does not provide these services for you.” (Joyce is already living independently, so this not a new option for her.)

Long term care / nursing home

“This type of housing is usually available only to people who need a fairly high level of ongoing personal or medical care. This may be because of chronic illness or disability or some other reason. If you are in this situation, talk to your doctor or other health care provider. You may need to undergo an assessment of your health needs in order to get access. “

· Basic accommodations monthly are $1,619.08

· Semi Private rooms are $1,863.41

· Private rooms are $2,166.50

· People interested in these facilities must work with the Community Care Access Centres (CCACs).

(Joyce is still very able to take care of herself, so this option does not meet her needs.)

Supportive housing / assisted living / retirement home

“This is a large housing category and it goes by many different names. The common feature is that support services are included in the overall residential package. These services can range from meals, to assistance with bathing, to an on-call nurse. What is offered depends on the place you choose and also on what you need.

Some housing facilities in this category are owned and operated by for-profit companies; others are owned and operated by not-for-profit organizations like service clubs or churches. Some are government owned. In some provinces and territories, there is government support for this type of housing to make it more affordable for low-income seniors.”

(This is the option that is of interest to Joyce.)

In 2010 the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation produced a survey called: “Seniors Housing Report – Canadian Highlights” that focused on residences which provide no more than 1.5 hours of care each day, and included apartments, semi-private units and ward units. Their survey did not include Long Term Care facilities where more than 1.5 hours of care or given daily or are homes for less than 10 people. Here are some of their findings:

· 186,420 seniors lived in the 2.502 residences that were part of their survey.

· Average rent for a bachelor/private unit with at least one meal included daily was $1,857 per month.

· Rent rates were highly dependent on the levels of care provided. For example:

· Heavy care services averaged $3,395 across the country. Quebec was the lowest at $2,637 and BC was the most expensive at $5,224

· 26.4 per cent of the residents receive heavy care – at least 1.5 hours of care per day)

· 73.6 per cent of the residents pay market rent and do not receive heavy care

· Vacancy rates for types of room types to 9.9 per cent, an increase from 8.7 per cent in 2009

· Across Canada, 55 per cent of the seniors’ spaces were semi-private, ward, bachelor nits and private rooms

The reports highlighted a wide variety of services and amenities. They include:

· Meals plans have become increasing popular and are now considered as standard deliverables at seniors residences

· Increase demand for transport on services, exercise facilities, movie theatres, pharmacies, swimming pools, hot tubs and spas

· Two of the most popular services are: Internet and transportation services

Joyce and Martha now had enough basic information to start looking at places. They were amazed at the huge variety of services, amenities and how lavish some places looked. They were thrilled that there was extensive social and health programs at most locations. Joyce learned that many places encourage residents to bring their own furniture and some even allow pets. Joyce did worry about how much all the extra costs would add to her monthly bills and more importantly about how any place would deal with potential health issues. Joyce asked a simple question to gauge concerns. She asked:

“Why if I break a hip or develop Alzheimer’s?”

She quickly learned that not all places are able or willing to support residences with these types of issues. Joyce really wanted to understand to what degree her future home could handle increased physical and mental health issues. Joyce was glad that she asked that question, “It makes a person look past all the pretty things to what’s really important.” The last thing I want to do to move again. I want to find a place for my needs today and for my future needs. The emotional and true costs of moving are already high, I want to do it right the first time.”

After several months of visiting senior’s residences Joyce and Martha have made a short list of two that meet most of Joyce’s financial, social and health needs. Joyce plans to sign up for Respite Programs at each location. She is excited about the next phase of her life and thinks that living for 2 weeks in each location will help her make an informed decision.

Things to consider:

· Write down what you need today from a residence

· Write down what you think you might want or need in the future

· Take a close look at the extra charges, is HST added?

· Take a buddy with you to visit the potential homes

· Visit the building again, at a different time of day

· Ask if you can have lunch there

· Chat with residents while you tour the building

· Does the location work for you? Will you be close to your doctor, family and friends, hospitals, faith centres?

· Are there nursing services on-site?

· Does a doctor, podiatrist or dentist come to the building?

· What have been the rent increases over the last 3 years and is there a limit to annual rent rates?

· What are your rights as a tenant?

Of course the best advice is to be pro-active and plan in advance of emergencies. I know that this is easier said than done, but worth working towards.

Best of luck with moving your Dad to a better new home for him.

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