Calgary is sometimes known as "The heart of the new west", and is the largest city in the province of Alberta. It is considered one of the world’s cleanest and most liveable cities – as voted by notable magazines such as Forbes and The Economist.
Accommodation, activities and services for seniors are available throughout the city of Calgary, including its suburbs. This is your guide to communities and care for Calgary seniors.
There are a number of retirement homes in Calgary, including Northwest and Southeast Calgary, with independent and supportive environments to meet the unique needs of each senior. Independent living, assisted living and Alzheimer’s care are the most prevalent types of retirement homes in Calgary, and cover the full spectrum of care, (see image below).
Some retirement communities provide both independent and assisted living options in one residence, to allow for a continuum of care. The benefit of this type of retirement community is that healthy, independent seniors can enjoy a self-sufficient lifestyle, and then as their health needs change they can transition to an assisted living option in the same community.
Assisted living provides a greater level of health care and more time with medical staff to ensure that health and personal needs are met. Living in a community that offers both of these types of retirement options means that a senior doesn’t need to move to an unfamiliar residence at a time when their health is deteriorating and the support of their friends and community becomes critical.
Seniors diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia can take advantage of the Alzheimer’s care retirement homes in Calgary, which offer 24-hour care customized to dementia patients. These residences ensure seniors remain safe in a secure community that is comfortable, familiar and home-like, while meeting their unique physical, social and health needs.
Tools to help you choose
Many seniors across the city of Calgary become accustomed to living alone, whether in their family home, or in a condo. While this may seem comfortable for many people, familiarity casts a spell where people can lose sight of bigger possibilities. People get used to things that are in fact inconvenient, unnecessarily challenging in some cases and can even put them in jeopardy. Over time, friends move away, home maintenance becomes more difficult to stay ahead of, and other conditions change. All of these issues can lead to increased isolation (proven to be unhealthy), a tendency to eat less and a decrease in physical activity. You can live a lot better!
After a move into a Calgary retirement home, many people experience a revitalization. Many communities feature a new environment, tailor-made for people your age and including a ready community of friends. You may have to do the math, to realize how much you can afford now, but the fact is that many people are surprised at what they can afford. In a senior living community, opportunities abound. When you pass on mundane daily activities to other people, you discover or rekindle passions left dormant while you were raising kids, paying the bills and maintaining the house. And best of all, there are the other people, including other seniors and dedicated retirement home staff.
Joyce K. moved into a newly developed Calgary retirement home near the end of 2017 and discovered “how great it is to be here ... It’s wonderful to be able to socialize,” she says. “I just open the suite door and someone is there and smiles at you."
Family members also marvel at how a move into senior living here benefits their loved ones’ well being. “My mom was originally nervous about moving ... but now she says we should have done this sooner," says Faith, whose mom is now in a west Calgary seniors' community. "She’s very happy, and the people seem genuinely happy.”
You can read much more about how happy people are with their move into senior living in Calgary.
Fun inside and out
Regardless of the type of care provided within a retirement home, all of Calgary’s senior living residences share a commitment to keeping their residents healthy, and helping them retire comfortably. The best thing about retirement homes is that they not only provide a wide range of services and activities within their residences, but also use the amenities and facilities in the area to their residents’ advantage.
Many homes employ an activity director, who contributes to wellness by keeping seniors active mentally and physically, and allows them to get to know other residents around them better. From card games to air hockey, swimming sessions or scheduled hikes and evenings at the theatre, residents never suffer from boredom and have the opportunity to form new friendships all the time. To keep the brain active, educational classes in art, dance, gardening and much more are available.
A number of retirement homes provide organized bus trips and outings for Calgary residents. Fish Creek Provincial Park, Elliston Park and Baker Park offer the opportunity for seniors to take a relaxing stroll through beautiful scenery, enjoy a picnic lunch, or just sit on a bench and enjoy the fresh air.
For seniors who enjoy museums, Fort Calgary is a popular day-trip location and offers a scenic streetcar tour for seniors with mobility issues.
Calgary also has a number of festivals and events throughout the year that seniors may enjoy attending — like the world famous Calgary Stampede. GlobalFest, held at Elliston Park in East Calgary during August, is another popular festival that features fireworks representing different countries and cultures.
There are also a number of community activity centres where seniors can get involved as a volunteer or simply enjoy some time outside of their retirement community. The Kerby Centre and Confederation Park 55+ Activity Centre are popular senior hubs in Calgary.
Of course, retirement communities offer so many activities for residents that it’s not really necessary to venture outside of the community if you don’t want to.
I love it here. You have to be involved in the activities to really appreciate what a good place this is
A number of retirement homes offer preventative health care programs within their communities. Health teams made up of registered nurses, regular doctors and personal support workers help to deliver in-home health care in the form of the following services:
• 24/7 nursing care
• Medication assistance services
• Exercise programs with access to a personal trainer
• Preventative wellness programs
• Recuperative programs
• Assistance with daily living activities
• Monitoring of blood pressure and blood sugar
• Foot care
• Therapy options e.g. Music and Aroma therapy
• Palliative care services
• Emotional, cognitive and social support
In case of an emergency or a need for specialized care, there are several large hospitals in the city, as well as a number of smaller health care centres.
Long term-care, also known as extended or residential care, offers all of the above, as well as more tailored care to those seniors with complex medical needs and/or advanced stages of Alzheimer’s and Dementia and more comprehensive assistance with daily activities. Doctors and skilled nurses treat patients with respect and patience as they provide them the services listed below:
• Assistance with walking
• Personal care with dressing, feeding and hygiene
• Pain and symptom management
• Advanced Alzheimer’s and Dementia therapy and care
• Continence care needs
The dietary staff in retirement communities make sure meals are both healthy and delicious, and oversee the serving of specialty meals to residents with any kind of dietary needs. Some homes offer not only meals but also snacks during the day and evening to help residents regulate blood sugar or sleep better at night.
Health and medical care are important factors to consider when choosing a community, but don’t forget about physical, emotional and social health – all necessary aspects for seniors to enjoy a high quality of life. Helping residents live a healthy lifestyle is key to the philosophy of many retirement residences – which is reflected in their amenities, specialized staff members and facilities such as swimming pools, fitness rooms, chapels and meeting rooms.
Retirement suites themselves are designed not only for comfort, but also for safety. Emergency call systems are a staple of assisted living and long-tem care homes that ensure staff are alerted immediately in case of an emergency. Accessible bathrooms with non-slip floors and oversized, sit-down showers as well as motion-censored night lighting and many more safety features may also be offered.
An important part of staying safe is staying informed, and the city of Calgary is reaching to seniors with information about fire safety, financial security and social services.
Any citizen of Calgary can call 211 for free, confidential and multi-lingual assistance with available community services. 311 is the number to call for any non-emergency service requests, which will be seen through to resolution. For tech-savvy seniors or their family members, services are also easy to find on the online InformCalgary Seniors Directory.
Fire safety is a priority for the government of Calgary, and fire fighters are trained to identify at-risk seniors in their neighbourhoods and connect them with safety tips, escape plans and resources well before a disaster strikes. Of course, retirement homes are equipped for fire safety as well, with sprinkler systems, sensitive unit alarms, non-combustible walls and regular fire drills, as well as staff trained for emergency situations.
Home maintenance services are available to seniors who struggle with mobility and income. House cleaning, yards work and snow removal are free of charge, as well as labour for repair work, in order to keep the homes of Calgary senior’s safe and clean. For those who need help managing the taxes on their homes, a property tax assistance program is also in place.
The Calgary Seniors Resource Society is not affiliated with the municipal government, but is also an excellent provider of programs and services for seniors. Assisted shopping, companionship services, escorted transportation and the “Adopt a Grandparent Program” are just some of the many services this society offers to seniors in the community.
Seniors who live at home as well as their caregivers can benefit from the various home health care services and charitable organizations in the area. The Calgary Alzheimer’s society, for example provides support to caregivers with loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s or Dementia. There are also a number of private companies that offer anything from light housekeeping to personal care.
Caregiver relief can come from a number of private organizations as well as retirement residences, many of which offer overnight respite to give caregiver’s a night off and their loved ones a night out.
Retirement homes will most often offer their own transportation to get residents to scheduled appointments and take them on group outings to some of the most interesting attractions in the city. Seniors who drive will also often receive a reserved parking spot at their residence.
For active seniors who want to get around on their own, Calgary Transit offers senior fares through the Seniors Citizens Transit Pass
Active seniors will also find most shopping opportunities and parks are within walking distance. The downtown core also features designated bike lanes and the most extensive network of indoor walking bridges in the country. The “Plus 15 network” is a series of heated bridges designed to get residents around the city without having to face the cold and, on rare occasions, the rain.
For seniors with disabilities, consider Access Calgary or Calgary Handi Bus which take care of booking and scheduling transportation services for seniors with mobility issues. Private transportation companies also offer services to seniors who need to get around Calgary independently.
As you can see in the chart above, 2 bedroom suites and heavy care spaces are in the highest demand in Calgary, reporting the lowest vacancy rates.
If you’re in need of financial help the province of Alberta may provide a monthly senior subsidy to help offset your expenses. The city of Calgary also has non-profit housing and subsidized apartments for seniors.
An example of subsidized housing for seniors includes Calgary West Seniors Housing Society, which manages four properties that are owned by the Government of Alberta.
We moved in, and within a week I thought, 'This is home!'
Unfortunately, some families wait until a time of crisis before considering a move to a retirement home. In fact, the process of finding the right retirement home requires quite a bit of thought and pre-planning.
For points to consider and some common questions and concerns about retirement homes, please visit our page for seniors considering a retirement home.
You need to first think about:
• What you want
• What you need
• What you can afford
• Your preferred location
Ensure that your medical needs are met and that the home can grow with your needs as your activity, medical and financial circumstances change over time.
Some of the pre-planning you need to do includes sorting out your finances. Most seniors use a combination of their pensions, RRSPs, CPP and other income to pay the monthly fees. Another income source for seniors is the proceeds from the sale of the family home. If you need some assistance figuring out what type of retirement community you can afford, be sure to download the Retirement Calculator.
Once you have determined your needs, sorted out your finances and narrowed down your location the next step is to start contacting and touring retirement residences, which will help you create a shortlist. You can use our advanced search to start creating your shortlist today. Some retirement residences even allow you to stay overnight to get a feel for what living in the community would be like.
Keep in mind that homes today (especially those listed here) cater to the needs of seniors, and you can find homes that detail your assistance needs, that serve kosher foods, that schedule activities around your sleep schedule... and the list goes on.
The Alberta Senior Citizen Housing Association (ASCHA) is the predominant organization that ensures Alberta senior homes are safe and secure. Representing a range of public, private and non-profit homes for seniors including independent living, assisted living, Alzheimer’s care and nursing homes since 1967, the ASCHA “supports members in creating and maintaining vibrant senior housing for Albertans.” Since ASCHA membership is voluntary, it’s a good idea to check to see if the retirement home you’re considering is an ASCHA member.
Another organization that ensures retirement communities remain safe for seniors is the province’s continuing care system, which shares information on home, supportive and facility living with the public. Some of the information provided by this body includes details on standards, licensing and accommodations for continuing care systems across the province.
Ultimately, the government of Alberta is responsible for overseeing retirement homes in the province. In May 2012 the province transferred many of the responsibilities and services from the Ministry of Seniors to the Ministry of Health, which is currently responsible for ensuring seniors live in comfortable and reasonable homes. The Ministry of Seniors has launched a number of campaigns against elder abuse and is also responsible for educating seniors about their rights.