A guide to senior care in Alberta: getting started
When it comes time to make plans and decisions about post-retirement living for you or your loved one, the information and resources can be overwhelming. United Active Living’s Guide to Senior Care in Alberta offers a starting point for insights and resources as you begin the journey.
Learning the lingo: glossary of terms
Understanding common terms is essential for starting your research. While there are common key terms and phrases throughout the industry, some terms are region-specific, and may not be relevant to your search. This glossary is specific to Alberta’s Continuing Care network.
Alberta Health Services (AHS):
AHS’s Continuing Care Glossary is a resource to understand common senior care terms in Alberta.
Levels of continuing care in Alberta
There are a variety of options for continuing care in Alberta that can be accessed through Alberta Health Services (AHS) or funded privately.
- In-home care: AHS-funded and private-funded in-home care models are available in Alberta, and offer a wide range of services that are delivered in a personal residence. Typically, in-home care is pre-scheduled and not offered on an ad-hoc or as-needed basis.
- Independent living: residents in independent living communities are self-managed, functionally independent and generally healthy and active, but wish to live a maintenance-free lifestyle while having access to in-community services, recreation, and social programming. Seniors Lodges and Retirement Communities fall under this category.
- Assisted/supportive living: residents in assisted living communities are generally healthy, but may need assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADL) like cooking, medication management, and self-care routines, or need access to memory care services and health and wellness assistance. Residents in assisted living occasionally have a trusted loved one acting as a decision maker to guide medical directives. Some retirement communities have a blended model of Independent and Assisted Living.
- Memory care: residents who access memory care services have been diagnosed with dementia or are experiencing other forms of cognitive decline. Memory care services can be accessed through AHS, and is available at most levels of continuing care in Alberta – mild memory care may be supported with in-home care, however most cognitive illnesses are progressive and typically require a transition to assisted/supportive living communities. The cost of memory care varies greatly, and depends on the level of care and expertise required for the safety and well-being of the individual. Only a medical professional can diagnose dementia, however preliminary self-assessment tools are available.
- Long term care: while physicians, nurse practitioners, and other allied health specialists may visit independent or assisted living communities, they are rarely available 24/7 which is why long term care can be an ideal option for individuals who have more progressive or unpredictable support requirements. Publicly funded long term care communities also offer residents coverage of medication and other medical supplies which typically is not funded elsewhere.
- Palliative or end-of-life care: a care option that ensures you or your loved one experience dignity and comfort in the final stages of life. AHS supported end-of-life care is offered in-home, in assisted and supportive living communities, in long term care facilities, and in more intricate cases, hospice communities.
- AHS Home Care services: are services that may be brought into both public and private communities for supplemental supportive care. Some private communities require residents to use their in-house care services.
Types of continuing care communities in Alberta
If you and your loved ones decide in-home care services will not be adequate or desired, then you may likely be looking for a community-living option in your area. Continuing care is accessed through publicly funded AHS communities, or through private pay senior care communities.
- Funded Designated Supportive Living (DSL): a home-like setting funded and operated by AHS that provides individuals with personal care and health services at a level that would exceed what could typically offered by AHS in a single-family dwelling. DSLs are comprehensive, full service communities accessible to all Alberta residents. Access to publicly funded communities is achieved by working with a community case manager who assesses the individual’s needs and confirms eligibility, after which you or your loved one may be placed on a waitlist. To access a funded DSL, you can call 811 to be connected to a community case manager and initiate the required assessments.
- Non-Funded Designated Supportive Living/Privately Operated Supportive Living (NDSL): Private pay communities offer all the same services as a funded community, however the individual’s personal care, health and wellness services, or other personal choice preferences are not subsidized through Alberta Health Services funding and therefore are paid directly by the individual. Individuals pay for their accommodations on their own – meaning they can choose where, when, and how they enter the community. Private pay communities have a wide range of options and price ranges. Fees, services, and level of care can vary greatly at private communities, and packages can be customized and modified at will.
- Public and private long term care: most commonly referred to as a nursing home or auxiliary hospital where an individual has chronic health or memory concerns and requires 24/7 oversight from a registered nurse (RN) and other health professionals. Individuals are required to pay accommodation fees as established by the government, which include medical services, social services, and housing. Private long term care options are also available and paid for by the resident.
About United Active Living
United Active Living is a private senior retirement community that is designed for a variety of lifestyles including independent living, licensed assisted living, and memory care. At United, you live your life your way – our purpose-built communities allow you to focus on who you are and what you want in every step of your post-retirement journey.
Speak with one of our active living advisors about life in a United community. They can arrange tours of our Garrison Green and Fish Creek communities. If you know a friend or family member who could benefit from living in a United community, send them a link to our website or blog, or arrange a future visit. We are happy to help!