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Home is where the heart is.

by:
Laurie Campbell

Let me tell you about how Connie found a place to live at the age of 65.

Connie was a good woman, a strong woman. Raised on a farm amid wheat fields and endless blue skies, she came to the big city, bringing with her a lot of hopes and dreams, not least of which included becoming a wife and a mother. She married, bore four children, and lived a typical middle-class life as a homemaker in the suburbs.

But the dream, it turned out, was not quite as she imagined it.

In time her husband succumbed to alcoholism, and he could not adequately provide for the family. So Connie took it upon herself to start and run her own business – a hair salon – and it prospered. By the time all her children had left home, she had divorced and remarried. But hubby number two turned out to be no great shakes either. He grew to become a pompous, bullying blowhard, and as retirement age approached Connie decided that she had had quite enough.

At the age of 64, she was looking at life as a single woman, alone.

Her kids rallied for her. First, they brought her under their wing. Then they set out to find a place for her where she would be happy in her golden years. It took more than a year to find a spot – not to mention deal with a waiting list - but it was perfect. It was a modern, well-managed little apartment building catering to seniors on the outskirts of a small town not too far from the wheat fields where Connie had roamed as a little girl.

Connie’s place was not large, but it was comfortable. Most important was the location, with town shops, services and amenities just a short walk away. As well, the place was ideal from the point of view of a new pursuit Connie had taken up – naturalistic painting. Her window and yard views included not only the surroundings of a beautiful little river, but big skies and farmland beyond the river, with flourishing wildlife. On any given day, white-tailed deer visited her yard. It was here that Connie lived out the last years of her life before dying peacefully at the age of 77.

Now, there’s a lesson in Connie’s story for seniors and for the children of seniors.

Determining where you are going to live out your last years is no small matter. It takes time, it takes effort, and it also encompasses thoughtful reflection, not to mention planning. The good news is, there are plenty of options available for senior living accommodation in Canada.

Retirement home choices are increasing all the time in response to an aging population that demands more freedom and choice. It is estimated that people 65 and older will account for 13 percent of the Canadian population by 2017.  The retirees will be healthier, savvier, and wealthier than seniors of any previous generation.

The retirement home industry is responding to these developments through a wide array of retirement home offerings. Here is an overview of those options.

Active adult retirement communities. This option appeals to boomers and zoomers who wish to retain independence and be active in a community of their peers. Communities of this type can feature things such as on-site golf courses and much more.

Independent living retirement homes.  An option that may provide 65-plus adults with meals and some basic services such as laundry, cleaning services and limited medical services. But as the name implies, independent living retirement homes are for independent minded seniors.

Assisted living retirement homes. This option is suited to seniors who may require aid with some regular activities like meal preparation, laundry and medication, but who are otherwise independent.

Long-term care and Alzheimer's care retirement homes. These options apply to seniors who need extensive care. High-end costs are associated with the facilities since seniors may receive special treatment and close care from medical staff.

Retirement condos.  An option offering full ownership to residents. Retirement condos may be found in a townhouse complex or an apartment tower.

Life lease. This has become popular option where lease tenancy provides special considerations for seniors.

Seniors' apartments. These apartments can come in the form of a rental unit in a commercial residential tower or a rental unit in a retirement home. This affords some choice for seniors.

Online resources are available to help seniors – and families of seniors – explore living accommodation for retirement. In Canada and Ontario, assistance and information concerning accommodation suited to the particular or special needs of seniors is provided through:

Places to Retire at www.homebuying.about.com/od/bestplacetoretire/ - Devoted to retirement and semi-retirement lifestyles and relocation options across many destinations.

The Care Guide Online at  www.thecareguide.com - Canada's guide to seniors' housing and care, including retirement homes, nursing homes, home health care, long term care homes, supportive housing, adult lifestyle retirement communities, palliative and hospice care, and more.

Ontario Residential Care Association (ORCA) at www.orcaretirement.com - A non-profit, professional association dedicated to certifying and supporting high-quality retirement communities across Ontario, and providing seniors with the information they need to make informed decisions about residential options.

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