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If you are considering retirement living for yourself or for a loved one, more likely than not, you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed and perhaps even a little bit anxious about making the right decision. With so many different types of communities to choose from, navigating the options can certainly be a daunting task.

Educating yourself and learning about the different types of senior housing available will certainly help you make the right decision. Here is a breakdown that shows some of the mainstream housing options that are available today in Ontario:

Independent Living: These types of residences offer rentable housing and usually one or more services to assist the resident. You can usually find independent living residences that have a multi-unit complex or a home residence that contains suites or bedrooms that are rented out on a monthly basis.  Housing units may be large or small in scale and may include rented, owned or life-leased options.

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Assisted Living: Generally speaking, assisted living operators provide a 24 hour emergency response system in addition to meals, housekeeping, laundry, and social and recreational activities. Accommodation can range from private rooms in a home, to apartment-style residences with private self-contained suites. By law, these residences must be registered with the provincial government.

Nursing Homes: This type of residence provides comprehensive care services in a single setting. This is usually the best setting for seniors that are disabled or have multiple health-related problems, requiring comprehensive types of care.

Selecting the right senior living community is an important decision that involves more than quick thinking and a spontaneous afterthought. When it comes to choosing the right retirement community, here are a couple of factors that that you should take into consideration:

Assess your social, cultural and recreational needs
Building and nurturing an individual’s needs is vital in retirement.  In saying this, it’s extremely important to learn about the community’s culture, as well as other aspects, before moving into the community.  Specific amenities and onsite areas that promote socialization are extremely important.  These can include: auditoriums, libraries, sporting facilities, business centers, etc. Go for a tour of the community and ask as many questions as possible. Some facilities will even allow you to stay overnight as a guest so you can develop a sense of what it might be like to be a resident.

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Ensure the community’s type of care offered meets (and hopefully exceeds) your needs
Do you have health concerns? Are you looking for personal safety or around the clock care? Make a list of your needs and organize them from most important to least. Then, narrow down your community choices by choosing your top three favourites. Working from your checklist — match your preferences and needs to those being offered. This tactic should be extremely helpful throughout your selection process.

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Make sure the type of care that is offered can adapt to change
Unfortunately, as we get older; there is always the chance that health problems can all of a sudden surface, or take a turn for the worse. Does the community have health professionals on-site? Does it provide in-home healthcare services? Find out the community’s level of medical care and also if there are physicians and hospitals nearby (it’s always better to be safe rather than sorry).

Above all else, it’s also important to look at your financial situation when you are making this important decision. Sit down with immediate members of your family and access the situation together. This should be an exciting new chapter in your life! Good luck.

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