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Exploring the Different Senior Care and Living Options in Canada

Last updated on: Friday, 5 May 2023
  • What You'll Learn

The time will come to discuss and explore senior care options with your elderly loved one or decide to downsize to more manageable living arrangements.

There is no doubt that this is an incredibly stressful time for all involved. It’s essential to find the right place when you need to decide where to have your loved one cared for.

Initially, choosing the right option depends on the individual.

Learning all the different options can help you make the right decision and ensure your loved one receives the quality of life they deserve.

Start with researching and asking for information from different types of care options in your province or territory, depending on the required type of care. For example, long-term care, supportive care or assisted living, retirement living, or another form of independent senior living.

Below is a breakdown of some of Canada’s most common senior care options.

Assisted Living

Assisted living is also known as long-term care, continuing care, or supportive living, depending on the province. These facilities provide 24-hour assistance and support with the tasks of daily living. Generally, they are subsidized by provincial governments, yet there are some out-of-pocket costs.

Long-term care homes focus more on healthcare services and less on daily activities and recreation. However, long-term care communities do have activities in place for seniors interested in participating.

Overall, assisted living is designed for seniors who are mostly independent but need some assistance with the tasks of daily life.

Independent Living

Independent living covers a broad range of options. Yet, it all focuses on retired, semi-retired, and completely independent seniors. This means they do not require any assistance with daily living.

  • Retirement communities are usually privately-run communities where seniors pay rent to live there. In addition, these communities offer extensive amenities and services, which are included in the rent.
  • Active Adult Communities are for adults ages 55 and older, where planned activities and socializing are available to them. These communities have gated privacy, and property maintenance services are provided for the seniors, including yard work, snow removal & grass cutting.
  • Continuing Care Retirement Communities are generally intended for active and independent seniors. They only require a few services to guide them and continue to live independently. These services usually include meal preparation, laundry services & transportation to doctor’s appointments.
  • Senior Apartments or Condos and Low-Income Housing are independent living communities and senior living communities. Generally, every province offers low-income housing options for seniors.

When researching the places of interest, pay attention to details. Ask questions to the staff, managers, and residents. Stay for a meal to see the quality of the food that is provided to residents and observe the building for cleanliness. If it doesn’t feel right, it is not the right place for your loved one.

The Government of Canada provides information about housing options for seniors.

Find out about programs by contacting your provincial or territorial housing office or looking at the following links:


Alberta Health Services – Continuing Care

Alberta Seniors

British Columbia

Housing – Province of British Columbia


Seniors and healthy aging secretariat – Housing

Manitoba Health, Healthy Living and Seniors – Aging in place

New Brunswick

New Brunswick Social Development – Seniors

Newfoundland & Labrador

Department of Seniors, Wellness and Social Development – Housing

Northwest Territories

Northwest Territories Health and Social Services–Home care

Nova Scotia

Housing Nova Scotia – Housing programs for seniors


Nunavut Housing Corporation

Nunavut Department of Health – Home and community care


Seniors: find a place to live

Prince Edward Island

Department of Family and Human Services – Housing for seniors


Seniors – Programs and services


Government of Saskatchewan – Senior services


Yukon Housing Corporation – Programs and services for Yukon seniors

Moving your loved one from their home is a significant life change. Despite the many advantages that a long-term care home or an independent living facility could do for them, making the decision can still be difficult for all involved.

It’s the fear of the unknown that would give you or your loved one any doubts. Ensuring your loved one is comfortable and content with where you choose is the most critical aspect of your decision. For many, moving can also open up a new chapter in their life, full of new friendships & experiences!