When Don Ho moved his family to Canada from Hong Kong in 1983 nobody knew he was going to revolutionize retirement living in his adoptive homeland, they were simply immigrating for a better life. Then things started changing with family back in Hong Kong. His mother and mother-in-law were showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s Disease. Their husbands were active and healthy, but Ho saw the stress that living apart created when one spouse moved into care. He recognized this was a socio-demographic issue already affecting a lot of other families and came up with the idea of continuous care communities. He was one of the pioneers of the concept of aging-in-place. If seniors were still relatively active, they could buy an independent living suite, adding things like meals or cleaning as needed. “If they realized ‘I don’t want to have to worry about paying the hydro or taking care of the maintenance anymore,’ they could become renters,” Ho says. And if one developed dementia or had other major health problems, there was a long-term care unit within the same development.

Today, at 73, Don has a new company called Element Lifestyle Retirement Inc. The company is building two aging-in-place communities on the west coast. He’s also in talks with other companies across Canada and Asia who need his consulting services on existing properties or new builds. “I no longer have to work for money,” he says. “Now I’m working to give back because Canada has been so good to me.”

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