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Getting Started: Retirement Living

January 9, 2018

Perhaps you have friends who have made the move, sold their home and chosen a retirement residence.  Maybe your children have spoken to you about the idea of downsizing into a smaller space and retirement living is one of the options.  There is also the chance that something has happened in your life, a fall, or this terrible winter has you feeling isolated and craving social time.

ORCA, Ontario Retirement Communities Association, has some useful information to help you understand how to get started looking at retirement options.

A) Get Informed.  Learn about the various retirement living options.  Independent Living, Assisted Living, Long Term Care.  How do each of these options facilitate aging?

B) Decide where you want to live.  Have you considered living closer to family?  Staying near your home?  Moving to an area that is easier to navigate with less need for a vehicle?  ORCA can help you find the options once you’ve made this decision.  They offer ORCA Home Finder, found at

C) Determine your priorities.  What is important to you?  Flexible dining options that allow for you to sit with whomever you like, whenever you like?  Fitness facilities?  Larger community or a more intimate one?  Taking some time to think about your needs and desires can help you narrow down the search.

D) Make some calls and book a few tours.  Retirement communities should be eager and willing to give you a tour of their building and outline their amenities and services.  Ask if you can stay for lunch or dinner to try out the food and speak with some other residents.  If you are searching on your own consider bringing a family member, friend, power or attorney, or other trusted professional like your estate planner or realtor.  Sometimes a trial stay is an option as well, however some properties are at capacity and cannot accommodate short term stays.

E)  Visit a retirement community.  Yes, sometimes people choose a retirement residence over the phone because they are moving from quite far away, however there is no better way to know if it’s the right place for you than to go, visit, observe and feel the vibe that community gives you.


Some questions you might want to ask when you’re speaking with the marketing team are:

Is the community ORCA Accredited?

Are they ORCA members?

What is nearby in terms of parks, shops, restaurants, community centres, churches, libraries, etc?

What types of leisure activities are offered?

Are there events on weekends?  Evenings?

What are the dining options?  Is it assigned seating?


Some things you might want to ask yourself while on the tour:

Do you feel welcome upon your arrival?

Is the building clean, odour-free and is it well maintained?

Do the residents and staff seem happy and engaged?

Do I like the activities and events being offered?  Do I like the idea of their dining options and policies?


To contact ORCA directly and request a tour checklist or more information call at 1-888-263-5556 or visit them online at


Pearl & Pine Retirement is a proud member of ORCA.


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