Retirement Living

Retirement Residence and Senior Care Terms Unpacked

March 10, 2016

The sheer amount of retirement residences in Ottawa can make choosing the perfect new home difficult. Mixing this with the variations in services and terms can cause extra stress and confusion. Here are some basic terms to help you navigate the retirement residence and senior care industry:

Respite Care / Convalescent Care / Short Term Care / Winter Stay

Respite care is used as a temporary “fix”. Respite stay/short term stay are usually used up to 6 weeks, where as winter stays are usually a few months. Reasons one might use respite care are:

  • Recovery after surgery or illness
  • A break for a caregiver to avoid caregiver burnout
  • Staying over the winter to avoid isolation and heightened risk

Retirement Residence / Home / Community:

A retirement residence is focused on providing a range of services from independent to memory care and everything in between. Most communities offer a full recreation schedule, meal preparation, cleaning services and a variety of a-la-carte services such as driving, hair dressing, foot care, hearing aid service etc.

Independent Living (IL):

Individuals who are looking for an independent living retirement residence usually require very little, if any services. These individuals are looking for some piece of mind in case there is an emergency and perhaps one meal provided for them. Many are looking to add to their social network and partake in activities that they enjoy, that may be hard to get involved in while in their own home due to transportation issues. Usually this retirement package includes 1-3 meals per day, a daily recreation calendar, weekly housekeeping and an emergency call bell system.

Assisted Living (ASL):

Most retirement residences offer assisted living services. Services usually include: a base of personal care assistance (ex. bathing, dressing, toileting etc.), all meals, medication ordering and distribution, daily housekeeping, laundry services, daily recreation calendar and an emergency call bell system.

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Senior care terms unpacked

Physical Care:

Similar to the ASL program, some residences offer a designated floor for individuals who require extra time due to a physical issue. Some of the communities also have lifts for transporting individuals to their beds/toilet/wheelchair and some offer a “two-person assist” (which I will describe down further)

Memory Care:

Again, offering similar care as ASL, retirement residences who offer memory care have a designated floor in the residence that is “secure” meaning there is a lock code to get on and off the floor. This service is offered for those who have Alzheimer’s or Dementia as well as any other memory issues that may put them or others in danger. These floors offer added nursing care that is dedicated to the floor and usually a “gentle care calendar of activities” that focuses on tasks that would have been familiar to the individual as well as memory and physical activity.

Two-Person Assist:

A two-person assist is only offered in a handful of retirement residences in Ottawa and is often reserved for long term care homes (nursing homes). A two-person assist means just that, it takes two people to assist in activities of daily living such as toileting, getting out of bed, helping to get to the dining room, eating meals etc.

Long Term Care Home (LTC)/Nursing Home:

Long term care homes offer advanced supportive services for individuals requiring 24-hour nursing care or a secure setting. These homes are Government run. To submit an application, families need to contact the CCAC (Community Care Access Centre) where they will be assigned a case manager. For more information on LTC Homes please visit,

Contact or 613.698.1319 for help in locating the perfect home for your loved one.

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