Comparing Senior Housing Options

sault living

Research indicates that aging Canadians would prefer to stay in their own homes as long as possible. However, it’s possible that this may not be the best option as you (or your aging parents) may be more comfortable in a different environment.

Maintaining a large home can start to become less of a pleasure and more of a chore when you factor in cleaning, mowing the lawn, repairs and maintenance. If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, you may be ready to consider an alternative.

Factors when considering senior housing options:

  Independent Living – House Independent Living – Apartment Assisted Living Seniors’ Home
Cost Same Low Medium High
Independent Living Privacy, your own space


Operating on your own schedule


Privacy, your own space, but staff and neighbours nearby


Operating on your own schedule


Still have your own space, but additional assistance available Shared accommodations (unless you pay for a private room)


Strict schedule & supervision


Style Your own furniture, décor, and belongings


Many apartment and condo types to choose from


Your own furniture, décor, and belongings


Varies, but usually your own furniture, décor, and belongings


Most suites are identical


Very limited décor and belongings


Meals Cooking and shopping for your own meals Cooking and shopping for your own meals


Private dining in your home


Private kitchens may be available


Meal plans or assistance often available

Most meals are included


Set menus & schedule


Common dining area


Flexibility Possible mortgage; can take months to sell Standard lease agreements


After 1 year, most go month-to-month offering significant flexibility


Varies between standard leases and life-lease agreements


Services are adaptable to changing needs

Life-lease agreements lock you in for the duration
Population n/a Some buildings mostly seniors, but may have mixed ages as well


Seniors requiring varying degrees of assistance


Seniors requiring full-time assistance


Medical Assistance None provided


Home care can be brought in at your own cost

None provided


Home care can be brought in at your own cost

Some provided


Other services may be available at an additional cost

Most provided


Other services usually available at an additional cost


Questions to ask:
Is there 24hr on-site staff?

On-site staff ensures help is available in the building at all times, so you won’t have to call an 800-number and wait for an out-of-town landlord to arrive.

What is the level of security?

Look for controlled entry, intercoms, and video surveillance.

What activities are available for residents?

Communities that cater to older residents will often have activities geared to them, such as low-impact exercise classes and shopping shuttles.

Are there lots of older residents living there?

Whether a community includes mostly older residents, children, students, or young professionals can affect what activities are available and the noise level.

How much storage space is there in your home? Is additional storage available?

You’ll need to know how much you can bring with you to your new home, so that you can pare down your possessions appropriately.

Are amenities (such as a grocery store, pharmacy, and community centre) within walking distance, or on an easy bus route?

Consider that you may not always have access to a vehicle.

What additional services are available, and what do they cost?

Make sure you know what is available (for now or in the future) and how much you can expect to pay for things like meal plans, private rooms, and additional health care.

What are my options if my health deteriorates?

Unfortunately there may come a time when you need more extensive health care. Consider flexibility in your lease, upgraded services, and cost of moving.