According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, over the next 20 years, Canada’s senior population is expected to grow by 68%–the 75 plus age group will double. Over the past 40 years, it has more than tripled in size. In 2017, the senior population sat at around 6.2 million, and in 2037 it is expected to number 10.4 million. For example, the Yukon’s senior population will be 2.9 times its current size. Alberta’s senior population will increase by 2.8 times, and the senior population in Nunavut will increase by 5.7 times its current population. Every province in the country will roughly double its senior population by the year 2037.
The need for senior housing will increase, placing pressure on public services and more affordable options provided within the private sector for senior living. Every year more seniors are exploring their options, and it can be a process to transition from a house to a senior living facility. Moving somewhere new is not always easy, and as a senior, there are certain things to consider. For example, these things to consider are your current living situation, budget, physical and even mental health, current needs, and location.
Assess the Potential Emotional Toll with Transitioning from Your Home to a Senior Living Facility
There is no place like home, and most older adults in Canada live in their own homes or live with their loved ones, but it is a private dwelling. According to the 2016 Census, 93.2% of seniors live in private dwellings, such as houses, apartments, or moveable dwellings. Approximately 6.8% of seniors live in collective dwellings, like a residence for senior citizens, long-term care, retirement living, or assisted living. Moreover, approximately 25% of Canadian households are led by people over the age of 65—75% of households are owned and 25% rent. The largest proportion of these senior-led households are couples without children, and the second largest group is single women.
Per the Census in 2016, approximately 2.2 million Canadians lived in multigenerational housing, and close to 350,000 were aged 65 and over. Most housing moves made by seniors are for lifestyle reasons, planned, or because of a crisis. Overall, seniors are less likely to move than the general population. In 2016, approximately 5.5% of seniors 65 to 74 and 4.7% of those 75 and older had moved, compared to 13% of the general population. The Census also points out that seniors who are widows or are divorced are more likely to move, whereas seniors who rent their home are twice as likely to move, compared to seniors who own their home.
There is no place like home, and if you are a senior that owns their home, moving somewhere else does take an emotional toll. However, as we age, some things become more difficult, or you could be struggling with mobility or declining health. If it is the case where you are considering moving, take the time to speak to your family and discuss options but be sure to communicate your emotional concerns. Do not seek to commit to anything right away unless it is an emergency. Take some tours of senior living facilities in your area. Speak to other residents at these facilities and feel comfortable about making the decision to move. It is not always easy to completely up-root your current life and downsize to something different. Emotional health as a senior is essential to your overall well-being and quality of life.
Transitioning from Your Home to Assisted Living or Long-Term Care
Considering the option of moving to assisted living or any type of senior living is not always easy. However, as we age, the need for more care is inevitable for many seniors. According to Statistics Canada, in 2016, approximately 16.9% of Canadians were aged 65 and older, and 2.2% were aged 85 and older. According to the 2016 Census, about 6.8% of Canadians aged 65 and older lived in some type of assisted living facility or long-term care home, and 30% of Canadians aged 85 and older were also living in long-term care. Most transition to assisted living and or long-term care is associated with many factors like physical and cognitive limitations, acute health events, social support, household composition, and income.
There are varying levels of care with assisted living, and an initial assessment done with qualified professionals would help you determine the type of care you need. Generally, assisted living provides residents help with some of the activities of daily life based on their current needs. The initial steps should involve speaking with your family and exploring your options, like visiting assisted living facilities in your area. When you do transition to an assisted living facility, give it time, most experts say it takes between three and six months for someone to adjust to assisted living. However, it could be quicker or slower; everyone is different.
Ensure you maintain contact with our family, especially during the early weeks of the move. Have your family visit as often as possible, as frequent visits can ease any stress you may have. It is not always an easy transition to move somewhere different, meet new people, and start new routines. Stay optimistic but also be prepared for setbacks, as there will be things you will not like and things that are completely different. Allow yourself to feel discomfort and acknowledge the difficult parts, but reassure yourself it was the right decision made because you needed the help with some of the activities of daily life. Moreover, continue to create a family environment when you adjust to your new surroundings.
Transitioning from Your Home to Retirement Living or Independent Living
More seniors across the nation are considering retirement options; however, making the decision to move to a retirement community is not always easy. Some of the initial things to consider are budget, comparing your current cost of living to a retirement home’s costs, and your needs. In an article published by the Financial Post in 2018, many of the baby boomer generation is moving out of their large family homes for the convenience of the low-maintenance lifestyle of condos, retirement living, or other forms of independent living. However, per the article, luxury condo prices outpaced luxury detached homes over the first four months of 2018 within the Greater Vancouver Region and the Greater Toronto Area.
As of 2020, prices continue to increase, and many seniors wait for a post in their preferred retirement community. The cost of retirement living is usually the biggest determining factor when deciding to transition from your current home to a retirement community or downsize your living arrangement but maintain independent living. According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, in a 2019 annual review, the vacancy rate increased over the past year in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Quebec, and Nova Scotia. However, the vacancy rate decreased in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland.
Cost is one major factor, along with the availability of retirement communities. However, the choice of retirement living is also based on your current needs. Retirement communities or other forms of independent living provide the option of not worrying about yard work, home maintenance, meal planning, transportation, laundry, cleaning, etc. Of course, the extent of services depends on the type of retirement living or independent living, but it should meet your current needs.
Most retirement communities offer short stays or trial stays, and this is an ideal way to introduce yourself to the residence. When looking for independent living homes, visit the location, consider its proximity to the things you need, like transit, shopping, and recreation. Having all of this in mind, the decision should be based on your current financial situation, your physical and psychological needs, and whether or not you own or rent your current home.