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Glossary of Retirement Living

With so many retirement housing options available, both in private and government-subsidized residences, it can be hard to know what the best one is for you or your loved ones. Here, we define the terms you’re sure to come across in your search for the retirement home that’s juuust right.

Senior-Oriented Apartments or Condos: These are age-restricted buildings (normally 55-plus) where older adults live independently in their own units. They can either be condo buildings, where residents own their units, or rented apartments.

Retirement Communities: This type of housing complex offers shared services designed for older adults who are independent and able to care for themselves. Generally, in order to qualify for residence in a retirement community, applicants must be either partially or fully retired. Outlined below are the levels of care that may be offered in a retirement community.

Independent Living: This is the most basic level of care, ideal for active, healthy and self-sufficient seniors who want to live with like-minded individuals in an environment where meals and housekeeping services are provided, and where there are opportunities to engage in social activities. While full-time nursing support is usually not provided, staff are available in case of emergencies.

Assisted Living: The next level of care, after independent living, is one where older adults live independently and make decisions on their own behalf but are supported with daily living activities. This is the option for those who are at significant risk living in their own environment. Here, daily meals, cleaning and laundering are provided as are personal care services such as grooming and bathing, if required.

Complex Care: Complex care offers a comprehensive system of care in a single setting. It’s suited for individuals who are disabled to the point of needing daily nursing care and have many different problems requiring different services. The province of B.C. has a single entry-point system for older adults needing to access complex care services. Here, a case manager will assess their physical, psychological and emotional well-being before deeming them fit for complex care. If they are not eligible they will likely be recommended for an assisted living facility.

Long-Term Care: Those suffering from cognitive or physical ailments that render them dependent for daily tasks, such as those suffering from the late stages of dementia, might be determined by provincial social services to need long-term care. Here, they’ll receive constant monitoring, 24-hour access to nursing care and assistance with bathing and feeding.

For a directory of housing options in B.C., visit the Seniors Services Society