At my mother's Senior's Lodge and my Aunt's Senior's Assisted Living site, I have noticed people who are not seniors and seem to have mental health issues? Can people who are not senior's live in places that are called Senior's Buildings?

Depending on their mandate, a retirement home may also accept mentally challenged or mentally ill adults who may or may not be seniors. The theory is that care and support services are similar, and that a more diverse population benefits everyone. It is also another source of income for the home.

Sometimes this population is housed in certain areas of the home - maybe the lower floors - and sometimes they are integrated within the building.

I have known of retirement residences who, for example, accept Down's Syndrome clients who have 'graduated' from the youth facilities when they reached age 18. The mix of this type or resident and seniors can be invigorating for all residents.

With regard to mental health clients, they would not have been accepted by the home if their condition were not managed by behaviours and/or medication and should therefore not pose a danger to other residents. If this is perceived, approach the administrator.

If there are concerns or questions, a resident or family member should feel free to speak to the administrator who should explain the policy and be open to questions or suggestions.

If this arrangement is not working well for your family member, be sure to inquire about this potential issue when searching for another retirement home. However I'd advise giving it time. Chances are, everyone will benefit in the long run.


Pat M. Irwin, BA, AICB, CPCA 
President, ElderCareCanada 
Professor, Distance Learning, Centennial College