Exploring Assisted Living: A Journey from the US to Canada

Jan Hau
3 min readFeb 22, 2024

I recently moved from the United States to Canada. One of the biggest changes I noticed upon moving here was how assisted living works in Canada compared to the US. For others thinking about where to retire, I hope some of my insights can serve as a guide.

First off, let’s talk about what assisted living means. Assisted living is a type of housing for older adults or people with disabilities who need some help with daily activities like cooking, cleaning, or bathing. It’s designed to provide support while still allowing individuals to live as independently as possible.

In the United States, assisted living facilities are often privately owned and operated. They can vary widely in terms of services offered, amenities, and costs. Some may feel more like upscale resorts, while others are more basic but still provide essential care.

Now, let’s hop over to Canada. Here, assisted living is typically more integrated into the healthcare system. That means there’s often more government involvement in regulating and funding these facilities. In many cases, assisted living is provided as part of long-term care or senior living communities.

Credit: Unsplash

One significant difference I noticed is the emphasis on universal healthcare in Canada. This means that everyone has access to essential healthcare services without having to worry about whether they can afford it. In the US, healthcare can be expensive, and many older adults rely on programs like Medicare or Medicaid to help cover the costs of assisted living.

Another key aspect is the cultural approach to aging and care. In Canada, there’s a strong emphasis on community and taking care of each other. This is reflected in the way assisted living facilities are designed and operated. There’s often a focus on creating a sense of belonging and fostering connections among residents.

On the other hand, in the US, there’s sometimes a more individualistic mindset, where people may be more focused on personal independence and autonomy. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can lead to different priorities when it comes to designing and choosing assisted living options.

In terms of practical differences, I found that in Canada, there’s often more government support available for things like home care services, transportation, and financial assistance for seniors. This can make it easier for older adults to age in place or transition to assisted living when needed.

Of course, there are similarities between assisted living in both countries too. Things like safety, quality of care, and maintaining dignity and respect for residents are universal priorities.

In conclusion, moving from the US to Canada gave me a new perspective on how assisted living is approached and integrated into society. While there are differences in funding, regulation, and cultural attitudes, the ultimate goal remains the same: to provide older adults with the support they need to live fulfilling and dignified lives.

So, whether you’re in the US, Canada, or anywhere else in the world, it’s essential to understand the options available and make choices that align with your values and needs as you or your loved ones navigate the journey of aging.