Opening the Dialogue

When preparing for the senior living conversation, here’s how to play a supporting role and make the conversation productive for everyone.

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Ask an Expert

  • What's the difference between an independent living residence, assisted living residence and a long-term care residence?

    Independent Living includes a combination of housing and hospitality services for retired adults who are functionally independent Seniors capable of directing their own care. This may also be referred to as Supportive, Retirement or Congregate Living.

    • These Seniors choose to be free of the home management duties and prefer the convenience of service in a social atmosphere.
    • Living space may vary from a studio apartment to a 2 bedroom or larger.
    • Services provided are usually a menu of optional fee-for-services from a base rate which could include meals, housekeeping, monitoring and emergency support, social and recreational opportunities, transportation, etc.
    • Building features include private space, and a safe secure environment with a home-like setting. The buildings are designed with common areas and features to allow seniors to “age in place”.
    • These communities include privately owned, non-profit and subsidized housing options.

    Assisted Living offers housing, hospitality services and personal assistance to Seniors who live independently but require help with some daily tasks.

    • Same type of communities as the independent living.
    • Provides additional services such as bathing, dressing or medication monitoring. Nursing care may be available.
    • Seniors must be able to be self-directed and independently mobile.
    • Assisted living can be private pay or funded.
    • Assisted living in BC is regulated by the Office of the Assisted Living Registrar.
    • In Alberta, Assisted living can take on two forms – Assisted Living – which is private pay, and supported living (SL) which is funded by the government and has several levels based upon assessed need (SL 1-4). For more information visit Alberta Health.

    Long Term Care/Complex Care provides housing, hospitality, personal assistance and 24 hour professional nursing care for Seniors unable to care for themselves. Also referred to as Nursing Homes.


    • Care is required on a regular basis in a facility setting but who are not in need of hospitalization.
    • This segment includes intermediate care, multi-level care, extended care hospitals, private hospitals, Palliative Care or Respite Care.
    • These must be licensed and may be private pay or government funded.
  • How do I know if I should move into a retirement residence?

    Here are 10 signs that a move to a more supportive environment such as a retirement residence may be a good idea for you or your loved one.


    • You (they) are having a less active lifestyle and the tendency to stay home.
    • Exterior of your (their) home is less well maintained than usual.
  • Is there any funding to help cover the cost?

    Yes, in BC the SAFER (Shelter Aid for Elderly Residents) program. The Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) program helps make rents affordable for BC seniors with low to moderate incomes. SAFER provides monthly cash payments to subsidize rents for eligible BC residents who are age 60 or over and who pay rent for their homes. More information can be found at BC Housing.

    The Alberta Government does have some assistance programs in place. Please check Alberta Seniors Housing for eligibility requirements.

  • Is someone on site at all times?

    Yes, someone is available for emergencies 24 hours a day.

  • When are visiting hours?

    This is home, all hours are visiting hours.

  • Can we bring pets to visit?

    We love to have you bring your pets. On a leash of course.

  • May we have a meal with our loved ones?

    We love for you to join our residents for meals. We have a small fee, but well worth the time spent.

  • What type of transportation is available?

    There is the HandyDART program and the Taxi Saver Program for seniors available at some locations. Each of our communities have several transportation options, please contact the community to get more information.

  • How do we define independent living?

    The Independent Living environment at our facilities is designed for self-sufficient individuals seeking a comprehensive package of household management services. Private rooms and bath are available in various sizes and include weekly housekeeping and laundry service. Residents also receive three meals per day as part of the basic package. Other options such as in-room telephone and cable service are also available at minimum cost.

  • How does Independent Living differ from Assisted Living?

    Independent living Residents must be able to dress, groom and bathe themselves without any assistance from staff. All medications prescribed or otherwise must be self-administered without intervention or supervision from staff.

  • Aside from household conveniences, are there other benefits available to the Residents?

    Our Residents are able to benefit from the companionship and camaraderie offered by fellow Residents. Every Resident is encouraged to become a willing and active member of our community by participating in a variety of planned activates both on and off-site. We also consult with Residents to find out what they like to do.

  • Does Optima offer a safe and secure environment?

    Yes, our residences are staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week including live-in personnel. As an added safety feature, we are equipped with an emergency response system. All our residents’ facilities are on one floor and wheelchair accessible.