Aging In Place

The first of the Canadian baby boomers turn 65 this year. Canadian ‘Boomies’ born between 1947 and 1966 (we were a little slower to start procreating than the US) make up some 7 million Canadians. According to Statistics Canada, it is projected that there will be more seniors than children by 2017. While seniors only made up 8% of the population in 1960, it is estimated that by 2036, that percentage will increase to 25% of the total population. And some 70% of baby boomers will spend the rest of their lives in the place they celebrate their 65th birthday.

As people age, their homes play an increasingly important role in their lives as a setting for supportive services, functional independence and social activity. Yet, a serious issue for our aging population is whether or not their homes will accommodate their changing needs as they grow older. A home needs to be able to adapt to the use of products, services and conveniences as circumstances change.

Although today’s Boomers are living healthier and more active lives, there may still come a time when mobility issues, decreased visual acuity and in-home healthcare all need to be considered. Your home can be renovated to better address these conditions.

Safety comes first, with the installation of grab bars in bathrooms, handrails in hallways, improved lighting in key areas, non-slip and easily manoeuvred flooring for the use of walkers or wheelchairs, and making stairways safer using an LED stair lighting system, or with double handrails. Accessibility into the home can be accomplished with at least one zero step entrance from outside.

Beyond safety, some general improvements could include: lower windows to enhance viewing outside from a seated position at both the front and back of the house, converting bathtubs to no-threshold showers, contrasting colours between floors and walls, and cabinets and countertops to delineate space, matte finish flooring and counter-tops to eliminate glare. Residential elevators are also finding a place in the home.

Creating a main floor Master bedroom with full bath, plus a main floor laundry room are also popular renovations as people come into their senior days.

With more time on their hands, seniors are embracing state of the art technology as a means of staying in touch with loved ones through increased use of computers. Incorporating an emergency response system either installed or wearable provides peace of mind and connectedness.

Waterloo was recently named an ‘age friendly’ city by the World Health Organization. We are only one of eight Canadian cities to receive this award which acknowledges planning, maintenance and social services that accommodate older residents. Just as Waterloo now has a community aging strategy in place, so too should your home. Please give Schnarr Craftsmen a call for our expert advice on how you can convert your current home to a ‘lifelong’ home.

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