Aging in place: home adaptations to help you live in your own home for longer
Where is the one housing market in Canada that’s bucking the trend for falling house prices due to high interest rates? Right here, in Calgary. According to the Calgary Real Estate Board, the average home price here now stands at $539,461, up 10% from last year.
For seniors living in their own, (now more valuable than ever) property, it’s also a very good reason to age in place, by adapting the home you love to to your changing needs, rather than become part of the “gold rush” of buyers looking for new homes to purchase.
Is your home still working for you?
According to the 2016 census, over 73% of Calgary residents own their own home. However, that doesn’t mean it’s 100% right for our needs. As we age, the family home where we raised our kids may not be as easy to live in as it once was.
- We may not want to climb so many stairs with arthritic knees, or try and step in and out of a bath.
- We might also find that every day tasks become more challenging, such as lifting a heavy load of laundry.
- Personal care such as bathing may become more difficult after illness or surgery.
In short, you might just need a helping hand to continue living independently at home.
Living your best life at home
At the heart of Vytality’s Calgary home care services is the core principle of helping you live your best life in your own home for longer. This idea of living in your own property for longer is supported by the Alberta government too, who are keen for more seniors to “age in place”.
Key to aging in place is adapting your home to your changing needs, so that life becomes easier and safer for you. It’s not all about major rebuilding either; sometimes the smallest (and cheapest!) of changes can make a big difference.
Here are some common adaptations to think about.
Hand rails and grab bars
Cheap and easy to have fitted in any home, handrails and grab bars can give you the confidence to move in and out of your home more freely. Handrails along corridors can help you keep steady on your feet and reduce the risks of falls. Grab rails by external doors and short steps can help you step up or stand more easily.
Sometimes the simple ideas are the most effective. A freestanding raised toilet seat on a frame with side rails is a simple aid that requires no fixing, and allows you to stand up with less effort. Grab bars are also useful in bathrooms, helping you stand more easily at your sink, or when moving around. If you have limited mobility or use a walker or wheelchair, a walk-in shower with seat allows you to wash step-free and with less chance of slipping or tripping over the edge of a shower tray or bath.
Ramps and slopes
If you have issues with mobility, even the shortest flight of steps can become an insurmountable obstacle. Installing permanent outside ramps to access your home can give you back the freedom to move between outside and inside without worry. Make sure they are properly constructed to withstand the Calgary winter weather, are non-slip and with a gradient you can manage easily. The CNBC (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation) recommends that manual wheelchair ramps should have rise by 1 inch for every 12 inches of length. You may find you wish a more shallow rise as much for coming down as walking up!
This simple idea is to reduce the rise of a normal by placing a non-slip half step so you don’t have to lift your leg so high. We’ve seen them used successfully for stepping into showers, over a high door sill, or just down a step into the garden.
Light up your way
External lighting is very important in our long dark winter months, so you can see exactly where you are stepping. Modern LED lighting is bright, durable and very efficient in terms of energy use – you can buy solar powered models too. A PIR activated lighting system (motion sensor lighting) will turn on if it detects any movement, useful for hands-free light for you, and also for your home security. Inside, you can install small PIR lighting that literally lights up a gloomy corridor or stairway automatically.
Widening and lowering
If you walk with a frame, a walker or use a wheelchair, you may find that the doorways in your home are not wide enough to get through without scraping your knuckles or getting the wheels stuck. Often this can be solved by simply widening the doorway, and you don’t necessarily have to replace all existing doors either. Equally, kitchen worktops can become tiring to work at with arthritic hands and shoulders, or not possible to reach if in a wheelchair. Again, this can simply be a case of lowering part of your work surface to a better level,
If climbing the stairs has become like climbing a mountain, a stair lift can give you back access to the upper storeys of your home again. Modern stair lifts can be fitted to the treads (risers) of almost any staircase, straight, curved and even spiral staircases. Self-adjusting seats ensure you are always sitting level, and easy to operate chairs can transport you up and down in safety and comfort.
Not sure what modifications are right for you?
You may wish to book a private home modification assessment, where an Occupational Therapist (OT) will visit your home and suggest modifications and aids to help you live your everyday life more easily. In addition, Albertans can apply to two schemes:
Low income Albertans with mobility challenges can apply for grants to modify their home.
Low-interest home equity loans can cover a range of home adaptations and renovations to help seniors stay in their homes longer.
Not sure who to ask to modify your home?
Ask us here at Vytality at Home! We have a handpicked selection of experienced, trusted partners who can help with almost any aspect of aging in place adaptations. Just call us to discuss your requirements.
Homecare in Calgary for you both
Finally, we’d just like to say that our homecare team and caregivers can help you as a couple age in place just as much as people living alone!
This is especially true if one of you is less able than the other, has a restrictive medical condition or dementia, or if you are a full-time caregiver for them. Calgary homecare services such as ours can provide the help you need when you need it, including personal care for your partner. Our team also can provide respite care when you need a break.
To discuss your requirements: