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Renovating for seniors: Aging in Place at home

Renovating for seniors: Aging in Place at home

Aging in Place at home


aging in place - home care torontoAging in place at home is still a viable option for seniors who prefer to stay at home rather than move into a senior living facility like a retirement or nursing home.  The decision to stay home or leave is often a function of one or more of the following:

  1. Cost,
  2. Health and safety,
  3. Proximity to family,
  4. or Emotional attachment

Typically, the primary reason for moving into a nursing or retirement residence is due to concern for the safety of a loved one.  Perhaps mom has had a fall coming down the stairs of the family home where she has lived for forty years.  Maybe dad has left the stove on one too many times.  The infrastructure of a retirement facility is seen as a safety umbrella, and a common reason to consider a retirement residence or assisted living facility.

For some, leaving the family home is just not an option, but something must be done to ensure mom and dad’s health and safety.  Changing the home environment to better suit your parents’ needs will probably be necessary.

Aging in Place: Creating a Safe Living Space at home

Here is a list of things to consider for creating a safe living space:

  • Location, Location, Location
    • Washer and Dryer (move them up from the basement)
    • Dishwasher – can it be raised so that bending down is not required?
    • Bathroom – a full bathroom on the main floor is often essential
    • Bedrooms – is there a full-sized bedroom on the main floor, can you easily convert part of the living room?
    • Cupboards – how high and how deep?
    • Countertops – at a safe height for both standing and wheel chair access
  • Lighting
    • Automatic lights that sense when someone has walked into the room or hallway
    • Light switches at correct height and in multiple locations (each end of the hallway/house)
  • Technology
    • Security and personal alarm system that can also monitor heating, air conditioning, emergencies and two-way communication
    • Pre-programmed easy-to-use thermostats
    • Audible and visible cues for doorbell, smoke detector or telephone
  • Stair-lift
    • If accessing the second floor or basement is imperative, a stair-lift should be considered
  • Widening doorways
    • For safer and more convenient access with indoor rolling walkers and wheelchairs
  • Bathrooms
    • Raised toilet seat
    • Grab bars beside toilet and both inside and outside of bathtub or shower
    • Walk-in tub or shower with proper shower seat
  • Safety Bars
    • Floor to ceiling poles can be installed beside the sofa, recliner and bed
    • In hallways and near any points of entry
  • Entrance to home
    • A ramp for wheelchair access
    • Elongate steps to avoid being too steep
    • Secure handrails
    • Proper winter maintenance

This list might seem daunting but if you take steps over a period of time it will help balance the cost and amount of change.  The key is to start talking about it before a decision needs to be made.

Don’t worry if you lack the skills to figure this all out on your own.  There are great companies out there that can help.  In Toronto, a company called Reliable Living has gained an excellent reputation with their focus on “Barrier Free Design.”  One of our clients has worked with Reliable Living and she raved about their service and results.

Aging in Place: Downsizing

It might make sense to downsize into a smaller one-story bungalow or a condominium.  Retrofitting bathrooms and doorway widths may still be necessary for a new smaller house or condominium. Downsizing in any case can be an arduous task, but Laurie Bell from Moving Seniors with a Smile can help.  Laurie gave us some tips for senior downsizing here.

Aging in Place: Cost

aging in place - home health care toronto

It is important for seniors and their families to sit down and do a simple cost analysis. If comparing the costs of staying at home versus moving to a retirement residence or assisted living facility, it is best to visit or cost out three facilities to get a good idea of monthly expenditure.  Your monthly cost of moving out of the house could range anywhere from $3000 to $10,000 per month (or more if you are a couple).  If you were to pay $4500 per month in a retirement residence, the total yearly cost would be $54,000.  How many safety and retrofit projects could be completed for half that?

Tax Benefits for home renovations

  • Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit
    • From the Ontario Government website (http://www.ontario.ca/seniors/healthy-homes-renovation-tax-credit): “As a senior 65 years or older in Ontario, you could qualify for a tax credit to help with the cost of making your home safer and more accessible. The Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit is a permanent, refundable personal income tax credit for seniors and family members who live with them. If you qualify, you can claim up to $10,000 worth of eligible home improvements on your tax return. The amount of money you get back for these expenses is calculated as 15 per cent of the eligible expenses you claim. For example, if you spend and then claim $10,000 worth of eligible expenses, you could get $1,500 back.” The Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit can help with the costs of improving safety and accessibility in your home. For more information about the Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit, call: 1-866-ONT-TAXS (668-8297).
  • Medical expenses
    • Home renovations for safety and accessibility can also be deducted as medical expenses on your income tax return. Please consult an accountant to decide which tax benefit is best for you.

If your parents are thinking about aging in place, ensuring their comfort and safety is priority number one.  Retrofitting their home and working with a home health care company like Retire-At-Home Services will ensure mom and dad are living life to the fullest. Read more about our assisted living at home service.

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