Since the 1950s, Canada’s demographic population has experienced a significant shift. According to a Government of Canada report, in addition to declining fertility and mortality rates, Canadians are seeing substantial gains in life expectancy and the aging of baby boomers – those born between 1946 and 1965.
In fact, Statistics Canada revealed that life expectancy at age 65 has been increasing. In 1985, a 65-year-old could expect to live another 17 years. By 2006, this number increased to 20 years: 18 years longer for men and 21 years for women.
As well, the proportion of seniors continues to climb while that of children and youth continues to decline. This means, the proportion of seniors (17.5 per cent) now exceeds the proportion of children younger than 15 years old (16 per cent) and could climb to 22.7 per cent in 2031.
Despite the country’s aging population, most Canadians want to live a long and healthy life. In 2019, there were 6.6 million Canadian seniors (65+ years old). By 2040, that percentage is projected to increase to one-fourth of the overall population.
While the percentage of seniors continues to grow, so does the need for adequate living options. When it comes to living options for seniors, it is important to note that many who require assisted living arrangements are in a couple situation. Fortunately, some of Calgary’s top senior living facilities offer options for senior couples.
Amica Aspen Woods community relations assistant Lindsay Kulyk says, “When you have found your person, you commit to life together. At Amica, we support your love for each other and your desire to live life side by side. It is not what we have but who we have. We want you to enjoy this chapter together. You can have your individual care needs fulfilled with your loved one by your side. Together, today, tomorrow, forever. ”
Kulyk is proud that many inspiring couples choose to call Amica Aspen Woods home. While there are certainly positive aspects of living together as a senior couple in an assisted living environment, there are some inevitable challenging moments.
“On a happy note, many senior couples share the celebrations of over 60 years of happy marriage with our other residents. The unfortunate side of this is that some of our residents will experience losing a spouse while living in one of our communities. Fortunately, these residents say they are grateful for living at Amica because it provides them with a support system of great friends so that they don’t feel alone. Being surrounded by a supportive community is vital whether you are living alone or living as a couple,” explains Kulyk.
Living at Amica Aspen Woods means that individual needs are met. For couples, the most important part is that they continue to enjoy their lives together. No matter the circumstances, Amica is confident it can accommodate senior couples’ needs while they continue to live together. If there is a situation where one spouse needs care and one does not, the care is brought to the couple’s suite. This means, independence can continue and care can be provided in a cohesive way.
Amica Aspen Woods provides a full spectrum of care, including early onset memory care. Its sister residence Amica Britannia provides advanced memory care. At Amica Britannia, the secure memory care neighbourhood can accommodate couples or individuals who are living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Whether one spouse or both need memory care, they can continue to live together in Amica. “We believe in living life the way that you wish. At Amica, you’re encouraged to make those choices. Your day, your way,” says Kulyk.
Another local retirement facility offers an “age in place” community, which means independent living, assisted living and memory care for both individual and couples. McKenzie Towne Retirement is a wonderful community offering many options both in and out of the building. The surrounding community provides numerous paths, walkways, a large pond, shops and recreational activities that inspire wellness. The community of McKenzie Towne is essentially its own little town with an attractive ‘main street’ right outside the door filled with coffee shops, stores, pharmacies, restaurants, pubs and medical offices.
McKenzie Towne Retirement executive director Michael Eves says, “Another benefit of living in our retirement community is that Alberta Health Services (AHS) is located within the building as well. This means any care that is currently in place or will be needed in the future will quickly be scheduled and available for developing needs.”
He adds, “We also have three visiting doctors that come on site three times a week. In our building, we employ RNs, LPNs and Health Care Aides so that when a resident’s health declines, we can make a care plan and provide all necessary services at no additional costs to them.”
McKenzie Towne Retirement is an all-inclusive retirement living community where residents enjoy three delicious meals a day, snacks, entertainment, activities, bus trips, home care, social gatherings/clubs, weekly housekeeping and cable TV.
For couples, the facility offers spacious one- and two-bedroom suites both with large kitchenettes that include a fridge and microwave.
Many senior couples enjoy a vast array of activities, entertainment, exercise opportunities and outings that appeal to different interests and hobbies.
Eves explains that McKenzie Towne Retirement says approximately 20 per cent of residents are couples and the facility is committed to keeping couples together for as long as possible in a suite. “When one spouse has a significant health decline, whether physical or cognitive, there are options to place him/her to the appropriate care floor within the same building. Thanks to a dedicated nursing team and AHS case managers located in the building, we can liaise with AHS Transitions to ensure that the resident receives the appropriate care in the appropriate care floor.”
If one spouse needs a more enhanced care plan and must transfer to either Assisted Living or Memory Care, Eves says that McKenzie Towne Retirement offers both private suites and AHS-funded suites to alleviate the financial strain.
It is recommended that families searching for a senior living facility for couples do their due diligence. Make sure to ask the right questions, tour the facility and meet the staff. Having a plan in place will ensure that senior couples will be taken care of and expectations can be met.