Retirement in Stratford

The complete guide to finding a retirement community in the Stratford region

In the Comfort Life Spotlight

Stratford, set along southern Ontario’s Avon River, is internationally renowned as one of North America’s greatest arts towns. Voted one of the top 10 communities to retire in by Moneysense Magazine in 2014, this Victorian-style town encourages creativity and growth but preserves its heritage and beautiful architecture. A number of excellent retirement homes in and around Stratford give seniors with a range of care needs the chance to retire comfortably in one of Canada’s most vibrant cities.


Types of retirement living in Stratford

Stratford has more retirement homes than one would expect from a town of 30, 000. The city’s retirement homes serve seniors native to Stratford as well as many older adults from around southern Ontario, including the surrounding rural areas of Shakespeare, Gads Hill and Sebringville. There are three broad types of retirement homes on the spectrum of care (see image below), all of which can be found in Stratford.

Independent living is a popular retirement living option among active seniors, and most often comes in the form of rentals or life-lease plans. Seniors in independent living hold on to their independence but enjoy the safety and amenities of retirement living, such as meal plans, pools and other fitness and recreational facilities. Assisted living, further right on the spectrum of care, gives seniors the option of customizing their care to include their health care and housekeeping needs.

Most retirement homes in Stratford offer a continuum of care which includes independent living, assisted living and everything in between - from what is sometimes called “carefree living” (where seniors live independently without the chores of home ownership) to selecting services such as personal care and medication management. Aging in place not only eliminates the stress of moving, but allows seniors to stay in a community of friends and familiar staff that grows with their needs. Stratford also has several long-term care homes. These retirement homes are designed to give seniors with more serious illnesses and cognitive impairments (such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia) a more comprehensive level of care. Some retirement homes also offer a continuum of care that includes the full spectrum, from independent apartments to 24 hour long-term care.

To narrow your search, click on a specific care-type below:

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How much does a retirement home in Stratford cost?

The average cost of a retirement home in Ontario is approximately $3,200 per month. However, the cost of a retirement home in Stratford will vary with the type of care you or your loved one require and the accommodations you choose. The best retirement residences are those that help you plan for the future and customize your care to fit your needs and your budget.

Going into retirement may seem like an expensive endeavour, but there are many different ways of paying for it. Savings, work pensions, the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Pension, as well as the sale of the family home, are all good ways to finance retirement costs. Seniors struggling financially can apply for subsidized housing. There are 1000 geared-to-income units available in Stratford and the surrounding towns of Mitchell, Atwood, Listowell, Milverton and St. Mary’s. It is important to submit applications for subsidized housing as soon as you realize you need help, as there is a waiting list for most geared-to-income units. The Ontario government can also be helpful when it comes to costs such as home care or prescription expenses. Seniors with high prescription drug costs relative to their income may benefit from applying to the Trillium Drug Program. Seniors over the age of 65 who live in Ontario and have a valid Ontario health card are eligible for application. Learn more about how people in Ontario pay for senior living

Stratford is one of Ontario's best places to retire!

Medical and safety services

Stratford has a comprehensive network of health care services in place for older adults. Between the region’s retirement homes and home health care services, the Stratford Family Health Team, STAR Health Team, the town’s fire prevention services and the Stratford General hospital, seniors can feel safe in a time of crisis and receive day-to-day preventative health care. In an emergency, the Stratford General Hospital is just 10 minutes away from anywhere in town. Primary care is provided by the area’s two family health teams, and chiropractic care, acupuncture, massage and physiotherapy clinics are also located in the town.

Seniors living in retirement homes have the added benefit of on-site health care teams. In addition to personal support workers, many retirement homes also employ registered nurses and a regular doctor whom residents can choose as their family doctor. Some of the health care services offered in retirement homes include:

Modern retirement homes recognize that a balanced diet is also part of staying healthy. In the interest of providing holistic health care and making retirement a comfortable experience, most residences also employ chefs and dietary co-coordinators to ensure the meals served are both healthy and delicious, and fit the dietary needs of residents.

Senior safety is a priority for retirement communities as well as for the Stratford emergency services. From independent living to long-term care, residences install emergency call services and safety measures such as three-piece bathrooms, no-slip floors and night lighting. Those homes that assist patients with Alzheimer’s and Dementia (see dementia care) also offer secure floors and overnight monitoring to ensure resident safety. 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. Stratford’s emergency services are dedicated to keeping seniors, whether living in retirement care or at home, safe, and offer a number of resources and tips for older adults on their website in order to prevent fires and make sure everyone is prepared during an emergency.

Seniors living at home and their caregivers can take advantage of several private health care, meal delivery and home maintenance services in the area. The Perth County Alzheimer’s society also offers support to the caregivers and family members of those with Alzheimer’s and Dementia, and partners with some retirement homes in the community. Often, retirement communities offer overnight respite and short term stays for seniors living at home to give caregivers some time off and seniors a night out in a home-like environment.

Recreation and social activities for seniors

Stratford’s beautiful downtown area lends itself well to keeping social and building community. Stratford’s eight independent coffeehouses, for example, are great places to meet up with friends and stay socially active. In fact, most of the Victorian buildings in the downtown core house independent businesses, artisan shops, fine dining, and other specialty stores that always make for a unique day out. Seniors can also join in with visitors to the town on heritage tours to explore Stratford’s history and architecture.

Of course, no description of recreation in Stratford would be complete without the mention of arts and culture. The town is most well known for its annual theatre festival, the Stratford Festival. During the festival, which runs from April to October, the Stratford Theatre Company puts on more than a dozen musicals and contemporary, classical and Shakespearean plays. Four theatres, the Festival Theatre, Tom Patterson Theatre, Studio Theatre and the Avon Theatre host the festival, all of which have been made more and more accessible over the last couple years. The festival also offers slightly reduced ticket prices to seniors over 65+ as well as many opportunities to volunteer with the “Friends of the Festival.”

Seniors living in Stratford’s retirement homes can choose to explore the town’s attractions on their own, or can opt for outings organized by their residences. Many retirement communities plan day-trips for their residents, from shopping trips downtown to matinees at the theatre. Retirement homes encourage their residents to remain creative and engaged, and place a special focus on social and emotional health. For this reason, most residences employ an activity co-ordinator whose responsibilities include organizing activities both inside and outside the residence, and cultivating relationships with local seniors centres and clubs.

Many retirement homes have facilities such as pools, gyms, libraries, meeting rooms and theatres to host fitness activities, card tournaments, concerts and plays, and many other recreational activities. Activity co-ordinators and administrators, as well as residents themselves plan and run activities within their facilities, from yoga and ballroom dancing to painting and language classes. Well-run residences work to give their residents access to as many facilities and activities as possible, even those which are not offered on their property.

The Rotary Centre, Eileen Langley Centre, Stratford Library and Kiwanis community centre all offer a large variety of programs and services to older adults living in retirement communities or at home. The Rotary Complex is home to the year-round indoor farmer’s market, several hobby shows and expos, and an indoor walking track while the Eileen Langley Centre runs day programs for adults with developmental disabilities. Stratford’s Library runs weekly programs for older adults to socialize with other adults, or spend time with the younger members of their family. Thursday’s at noon, for example, invites guest speakers to the Library once a week, while Whale of a Tale is a bi-weekly storytime for preschoolers - a great program for grandparents. The Stratford Lakeside Active Association, a 55+ club, meets regularly at the Kiwanis seniors centre for a variety of activities such as Euchre, shuffleboard, line dancing, bowling, tai chi, and woodcraft, to name a few. The seniors club charges a 25 dollar annual membership fee (as of fall 2014) for its activities, as well as small additional fees for drop-in sessions and day-trips.

Stratford takes pride in its status as a “green” town and promotes the engagement of citizens of all ages in keeping lawns and gardens full and beautiful. Many retirees, whether living at home or in retirement living, consider gardening a favourite hobby, and both retirement homes and outside organizations, such as the Stratford Horticultural society, encourage seniors to keep the gardens around them in full bloom. In addition to private gardens, Stratford also boasts 115 acres of parkland with many public gardens and 15 km of trails to discover them by. Once a year, Art in the Park stands out in the city’s green spaces, showcasing the talent of local artist. Cycling, running and walking through Stratford’s parks are popular pastimes for active seniors, as is boating along the Avon river, from which many different types of natural wildlife, such as swans and rabbits, can be spotted.

Not unlike most Canadian cities, Stratford holds a number of popular festivals. Besides the Stratford Festival, “Santa’s Parade of Lights” in November is the area’s most well known festival, and is considered one of southern Ontario’s best Santa Claus Parades. Seniors can enjoy the parade with family and friends or even take part by registering and building their own float.

Getting around Stratford

Stratford considers itself ahead of the curve in terms of accessibility and has been working towards a fully accessible town since 2012 through policies, services and accessible transit and facilities. The city council works with an Accessibility Advisory Committee to create a more accessible Stratford for those with disabilities and trouble with mobility. The town’s transit system offers both route and door-to-door service. The Stratford transit has a reduced fare for seniors as well as priority and courtesy seating, while the Parallel Transit provides accessible-door-to-accessible-door transportation which must be booked in advance via telephone call. Most retirement homes also have their own buses, which they use for day trips and outings, as well as free parking for residents who drive and their families.

Availability of retirement homes in Stratford

Ontario’s retirement homes are well regulated, safe and welcoming. Unfortunately this also renders vacancy rates relatively low. Over the last few years, the vacancy rate has dropped to about 13-14 percent. Due to low vacancy rates, you or your loved one may have to spend time on a wait-list before being accepted.

Certain factors will inform the length of wait times:

Choosing a retirement community in Stratford

Choosing a retirement home is a big decision that requires thought and pre-planning, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. Unfortunately, some families wait until a time of crisis before considering moving into a retirement home. It is important to consider all your options before an emergency in order to get your priorities and finances in order and make the process of choosing a retirement home easier for you and your loved one(s).

You need to first think about:

Use our retirement calculator to get a better idea of what you can afford, or visit our page on choosing a retirement home for more information about what questions you should ask yourself. 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. Some retirement residences even allow you to stay overnight to get a feel for what living in the community would be like. Remember to ask questions when touring retirement homes! For a helpful guide on how to ensure that the home can grow with your needs as your activity, medical and financial circumstances change, download our eBook on the ultimate retirement tour guide (link). Start creating your shortlist today by using our advanced search or contact the residences above to begin your search.

Stratford Retirement Community Regulations

Ontario retirement homes are subject to regulations set by the Retirement Home Regulatory Authority. Homes must undergo ongoing inspections and maintain a high standard of safety and cleanliness in order to receive approval from the RHRA and remain operational. In order to ensure you or your loved one(s) will stay safe and be properly cared for, always make sure to check that the community you are considering is licensed by the RHRA. In addition to accreditations and the regulations set by the RHRA, the Long-Term Care Homes Act of 2007 governs all long-term care homes in Ontario. The act requires residences to provide safe, consistent and high-quality resident-centred care and makes sure residents feel at home, are treated with dignity and respect, and have the health care services they need available to them.

Membership in other authoritative bodies is a further sign that a retirement community will be safe and well-managed. Industry experts recommend looking for a retirement community that is a member of one or more of the following trusted associations:

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