Choosing a Retirement Home

Tips on Choosing a Retirement Residence.  When shopping for a retirement residence consider visiting several and go prepared with a list of questions. Keeping notes and gaining a strong “feel” for each place will help you choose the residence best suited to your personal needs and interests.

Retirement residences vary in location, size, price, amenities, programs and services. The mix of staff and residents also contributes greatly to the “personality” of each place. That’s why it’s important to look beyond the physical structure and spend the necessary time to ask questions, talk with people and generally “sample the product”.

We suggest several ideas, which should help you make the right personal choice:

  • While touring a retirement residence, talk to the residents about their perceptions of the place
  • Plan to stay or return another day for a complimentary lunch or dinner
  • Don’t limit your tour to suite and common areas. Ask to see the kitchen
  • If you would really like to “kick the tires” enquire about a trial visit or an overnight stay
  • Ask for resident family references you can contact for their opinions
  • Beyond the standard tour, check stairwells and other less traveled areas to see how well they’re cleaned and maintained
  • Ask for copies of any paperwork required for admission along with samples of menus, activity calendars and newsletters
  • You may also consider hiring a consultant to help you find a suitable retirement residence. A consultant may also assist you with the actual move and other arrangements


Use the following checklist to identify the types of services and amenities available:

Services Available

  • Meals
  • Tray Service to Suites
  • Daily Housekeeping
  • Weekly Housekeeping
  • Personal Laundry
  • Recreation Program
  • Medication Supervision
  • Vitals Monitoring
  • Visiting Physician
  • Physician on Call
  • Dementia Unit
  • Visiting Dental Service
  • Visiting Lab Service
  • Visiting Podiatrist
  • Visiting Physiotherapist
  • Pharmacy Services
  • Assisted Living Services
  • Respite/Convalescent Care
  • RN/RPN on staff
  • Private Duty Nursing
  • Transportation

Building Amenities

  • Central Dining Room
  • Library
  • Resident Storage
  • Air Conditioned Common Areas
  • Private Dining Room/Area
  • Chapel
  • Tuck Shop
  • Fire and/or Smoke Alarms
  • Lounges
  • Horticulture Area
  • Beauty Salon
  • Parking
  • Wheelchair Accessible
  • Sprinkler System
  • Swimming Pool

Suite Amenities

  • Private Bath
  • Heating: Individually Controlled
  • Air Condition: Individually Controlled
  • Call Bell System
  • Fire and/or Smoke Alarms
  • Kitchenette
  • Sprinkler in each suite


Ask the following questions?

Community Services:

  • How close is the nearest hospital, medical clinic, dentist office?
  • Are there churches, parks, shops and seniors’ centers nearby?
  • How accessible is public transportation?
  • Is there an accessible transit service?

Financial Matters:

  • What is the daily/monthly rate?
  • Are there charges for additional services you may want or need?
  • Is phone or cable service part of your package?
  • Is there a resident petty cash account with separate accounting?
  • What type of notice period is required should you need, or decide to move?
  • How often are rates for accommodation and/or services increased?
  • What is the average annual rate of increase over the last few years?

Admission Policies:

  • Are wheelchairs and walkers accepted?
  • What about scooters?
  • Are any forms of oxygen therapy allowed?
  • Is a health assessment required?
  • What happens if your health deteriorates?