Independent and Assisted Living in BC

You may remember a time when seniors had two living options. The first option was remaining in your home, and the alternative was relocating to a seniors’ residence for full-time care. But the needs of older adults are not that straight forward, and along with living healthier longer lives, many individuals that require assistance with the tasks of daily life, only need it some of the time.     

Today, living options for seniors in the province of British Columbia are more varied than in previous decades. In 2002 the Independent Living BC program came into effect, offering seniors who only need part-time care two new choices - the first being Independent Living.       

The Independent Living Community

A senior who chooses an Independent Living community isn’t necessarily able to live without any form of assistance. In fact many seniors today do need some support but that doesn’t always mean round-the-clock. For this reason, the Independent Living retirement community offers assistance in certain areas of daily living.

Examples of services generally offered by Independent Living communities include housekeeping, laundry, meal preparation and medication reminders. There are many more, but the bottom line is that the basic services or a service package are usually provided. Additional assistance is available if and when it is needed.

Another important benefit is social interaction. Seniors who live relatively independently often choose community life for the social options and the opportunity to meet and get together with others who share common interests. An Independent Living community is also a healthy alternative to living in isolation.

Adrienne Spear, Retirement Living Coordinator at Harmony Court in Burnaby BC says that they offer ‘something for everyone’. Their ideal resident is a senior who may need some support but their main reason for choosing community life is the variety of activities and that they no longer wish to live alone.

The Assisted Living Community

Another option for senior living that came into effect in 2002, as an alternative to remaining in the home, is Assisted Living. Seniors who are suited to the Assisted Living environment generally have some level of independence, and like in the Independent Living scenario - support and help with the tasks of daily living are offered, but to a greater extent.

With the assistance of a family member or trusted friend, and a caseworker, seniors moving into an Assisted Living community will create a personalized service assessment plan. This allows staff members and medical professionals to understand the areas in which the resident needs assistance, as well as monitor their progress or changing needs.   

Knowing that Assisted Living is the right option for you is usually easy but the tough part is deciding when to make the move. Senior living experts recommend beginning the search for a community when you receive a diagnosis of a condition for which assistance will be a requirement of your daily life.

Assisted Living accommodations take on a variety of shapes and sizes. Sometimes it is a private dwelling with several rooms and shared kitchen, dining and living areas. It may consist of several suites including kitchenettes, and residents share common visiting areas. Assisted Living may also be part of a community in which different levels of care are offered, sometimes known as a campus of care. The advantage to living on a campus of care is that if and when your needs change there is no need to relocate.

Both Independent and Assisted Living offer seniors choices. Many seniors, no matter how independent they might be, enjoy the social aspects of community living, not to mention the freedom from household duties and responsibilities of life in the single family home. While most will opt to remain in their homes for as long as possible, it’s never too soon to investigate whether one of these options is right for you.

Written by Alice Lucette

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