Planning ahead; Finding seniors housing in Calgary and Alberta

Photo by Scott Webb

We all know there’s a Calgary housing crisis going on, and no matter who you are, everyone is affected.

Seniors are especially affected. Not only are seniors often on tighter, fixed budgets, but they also have more specific needs: whether they need independent housing, government-subsidized housing, low-income housing or assisted living. Seniors have it rough.

That’s why it’s important to start planning and thinking about finding seniors housing sooner rather than later. Even if you’re happy where you’re presently living, it’s good to have options figured out, numbers on hand and plans for what you might need in the future.

Knowing you have options will make future choices easier, and during a period of high housing prices, low availability and more: making something easier is well worth the time and effort.

What housing is available for Calgary seniors?

There are lots of different types of places to live: apartments, duplexes, houses and condos. But when it comes to seniors living, specifically, we’re usually talking about one of three different kinds of housing.

Independent living is just what it sounds like. It means that folks are looking after themselves, aging in place in their own residence. It doesn’t mean you don’t have outside supports — you might have someone coming in to help with household tasks, meal delivery or medical assistance — but the place you live doesn’t provide these things!

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll still be living in the same place you are now. You could still be living independently but decide that a downsized move might be right for you. A smaller place, for example, might be more attractive. Or, you might want a place that has closer access to a variety of seniors supports in Calgary: whether that’s something like the Unison Kerby Centre, your doctor’s office, or just a convenient grocery store or nearby pharmacy.

Other factors might come into your decision making too: does this place have street access or are there multiple sets of stairs? Is it wheelchair or mobility-aid accessible? Even if you don’t necessarily need these things now, you might in the future: so, it’s always something to consider!

Supportive Housing

This is one of the largest and more popular types of housing for seniors and it goes by a lot of different names: supportive housing, retirement homes, assisted living: but they all generally mean the same thing.

The uniting feature is that various supports are available for those living there. These can range depending on the place. Anywhere from meals, help with bathing and hygiene, to on-call medical staff.

These facilities also range in how they are owned. Some are operated by for-profit companies, while others are run by non-profits, like charities or religious organizations.

There are also government-run assisted living facilities! And there are also governmental supports in some provinces and territories to make this type of housing more accessible for seniors with low-income.

If you’re curious about what’s available in terms of assistance from our own government, make an appointment with our Seniors Supports department. They are incredibly helpful and knowledgeable when it comes to all things related to housing!

Long term care

For those that need a higher level of care, there are long term care facilities, also known as nursing homes.

Seniors who live here might need ongoing care for a few reasons: whether it be chronic illness, physical disability or conditions like alzheimer’s.

These might require a doctor or health care provider’s assessment in order to attend. While no one plans to have a long-term physical health problem, it’s always something to keep in mind: it can happen to anyone.

Regardless of what you choose and what needs you have, there are going to be a variety of factors that come into play: the number one of which is cost.

If you’re aiming to live at a seniors’ residence, you should check what services are included in the cost of rent, plus the cost of additional services that might be available.

It’s also smart to check if there are limits or rules on annual rent increases: with a volatile rental market, this could be the most important question you ask!

Finally, if you’re looking for a wealth of information about what senior housing units in Calgary are available, we have a recently updated directory with everything you might need to do your research.

It’s better to plan ahead, and with Unison, for Generations 50+, we have all the information and support seniors need to make informed choices.