According to a CARP survey from a few years ago, 85-95% of older Canadians prefer to stay in their own homes and communities as they age, rather than move into assisted living or long-term institutional care facilities.
The reasons they or their families choose otherwise has to do with lack of adequate care support or homes that no longer meet needs.
CARP is urging governments to recognize that home care and community-based care solutions are critical to resolving the long-term care crisis.
Compared to other Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, Canada spends significantly less of its long-term care spending on home and community care vs. nursing home care.
CARP is advocating for a number of governmental measures, including Increased funding for home and community care, more practical healthcare supports such as home care and nursing, ensuring supports and tax breaks to make homes more accessible, better supports for unpaid caregivers and addressing systemic issues related to the shortage of qualified personnel.
Changes to Your Home
A few renovations can make it possible for seniors to stay in their homes much longer.
“Often, it’s just one small thing that drives a person into having to think about moving into a nursing home or long-term institutional care,” says VanGorder, recently quoted in a Vancouver Sun article.
It could be stairs in a home that are increasingly difficult to climb, or doorways too narrow for a wheelchair that a person may at some point require.
VanGorder says adding a stair lift, widening doorways, adding grab bars in a bathroom and other renovations might alleviate many problems. All often much less expensive than moving into total long-term care.
CARP is encouraging industry to plan ahead to help people age in place, such as having builders design and construct homes to be age-friendly to seniors right from the beginning.
VanGorder says a study showed that building a new home to be senior friendly with things such as wider doors, plywood behind bathtub and shower walls to allow secure attachment of grab bars, and other items would cost an additional $800 to $1,000, while renovating for that later is often more expensive.
Here are five areas where changes can make a home more age-friendly.
Some pharmacies have departments or entire stores that sell age-in-place accessories.
Install toilet seat risers, grab bars in and around tubs and showers, or renovate to curb-free shower stalls or a walk-in tub.
Stairlifts can provide access to floors above or below the main level, while ramps allow easier entry and exit from a home. Or renovate to move needed facilities like laundry to a main floor.
Add motion-activated light switches so seniors don’t have to try and find them in a darkened room. Move light switches lower and raise electrical outlets for wheelchair users.
Install stoves or cook tops with knobs on the front, to avoid the need to reach across the cooking elements. Consider fridges and dishwashers that use drawers rather than doors. Drawer inserts in cabinets can also be helpful.
Widen doorways for wheelchair users and eliminate rugs that are tripping hazards and replace slippery flooring with non-slip products. Replace door knobs with levers.
CARP is working on a comprehensive resource for its website that will look at the various home renovation options to help someone age in place. Stay tuned.