Practical Ways to Organize for Aging in Place

Organizing for aging in place doesn’t have to be complicated.

Talking ’bout a renovation!

10 years ago, when my husband and I purchased our current home, we knew that it would be our forever spot. The place that we would raise our family. Watch the sunrises together in our retirement. Mint juleps & rocking chairs. We plan on aging in place. Other than the glorious lake frontage, what appealed to us was the smaller size (approximately 1000 square feet), one level living and wide hallway. There are few stairs to navigate. There’s space to accommodate a ramp if/when one needs to be built. Plus, it’s close to basic services like a hospital and grocery store.

In the blush of first home ownership or rental, accessibility needs aren’t necessarily considered. Hello, hot tub! Many houses in Nova Scotia were constructed before aging in place accommodations were popular or expected. Reality check. In Nova Scotia, we have the oldest aging population in Canada. Guess what? 90% of Eastern Rural residents live in single-detached houses. Of those dwellings, 68% were constructed prior to 1990. Additionally, close to 23% of these home owners are 65 years of age or older. Canada Housing and Mortgage reports that 10% of single-detached houses in Eastern Rural are in need of major repairs. Yikes.

A little fixer upper.

You may be thinking, “Jeez, that’s a lot of numbers, Kel.”

Oh, I’m not done with you quite yet…

A Silver Tsunami is Upon Us!

By 2031, close to one in four Canadians will be 65 years of age or older. The demographic influence of the Baby Boomers continues to shape Canada’s economy and society. As Baby Boomers become senior citizens and move into retirement, economic and social demands are increasingly shifting. From the needs of schools, for example, to the needs of the elderly and the costs associated with an aging population. This includes old age pensions, health care and income security.

At the same time, there is a smaller proportion of Canadians working and paying income tax. Housing and transportation needs are changing, as is consumption, which is shifting towards goods and services for seniors. The aging Boomer population is growing. They are living longer than previous generations. Seniors are remaining in their homes for a longer period of time.

Meet Canadian economic juggernaut, Nana.

What Does This All Mean, Exactly?

Great question! What it means, in terms of organizing for aging in place, is this: Ya’ll need to start thinking about getting old and where you are going to live. Your current abode may not accommodate walkers, wheelchairs or other mobility needs (like these awesome electric scooters). Sometimes, it can be as simple as adjusting furniture placement or increasing light. More often, organizing for aging in place must be achieved by renovating.

Beep beep!

Organizing Considerations for Aging in Place

Before you launch into a grab bar installation spree, here are a few things to consider:

Budget-With the cost of building supplies skyrocketing, renovations for aging in place could be a major cash outflow. Some insurance companies may cover costs related to these type of home improvements. Check with your provider to determine eligibility.

Medical Concerns-Talk to your doctor prior to renovating. Determine if the prognosis of any existing or future conditions will allow you to continue to live at home. Sometimes, aging in place simply isn’t possible.

Professional Advice-You may wish to speak with a Realtorâ„¢ and find out whether renovations will be a selling feature in the future. Or, if they will be deterrents. Is it important to you to get your money back in a selling situation? Will you be able to realize the value of the renovation?

Speak to professionals when planning for home modifications. Get quotes!

Let’s Hear it From An Aging in Place Expert!

I asked my friend, Kent Smith, Co-owner of Senior Solutions Development Group, for his top design recommendations that facilitate aging in place. Kent explains that when working with clients he asks the important question, “Where are you going to live next?” If the answer is “Here!”, there are a number of relatively simple solutions to make that possible. Things like:

  • Installing levered door handles & grab bars throughout
  • Adjusting cabinet & cupboard hardware for easy reach
  • Augmenting interior & exterior lighting
  • Building entry ramps & reducing thresholds
  • Using assistive technology

For new home construction or significant renovation modifications, Kent recommends thinking about one level slab construction, open concept design and wider doorways. Other no brainer design layouts include: bedrooms and laundry on the main floor and reducing the need for stairs.

Not an ideal design feature for aging in place.

Is Your Nest a Mess?

Doesn’t a safe, comfortable, well-organized home, one that meets your physical and lifestyle needs, sound ideal? A Sorted Affair can help you with your downsizing and decluttering goals. Is it time to move from your current home into a new, cozy nest? Reach out to Kelly for help organizing your move. Let’s sort it out together!

Yours in All Things Sorted,


Resources for Seniors Looking to Age in Place

Housing Nova Scotia offers grants and forgivable loans to help seniors with lower incomes and modify their homes to ensure they are safe and affordable. Please note, these programs are in high demand and there is often a lengthy waiting list.

Department of Seniors has resources like the useful Positive Aging Directory that gives Nova Scotians quick and easy access to the many programs and services for seniors in our province.

Caregivers Nova Scotia provides support and resources for caregivers, their loved ones, family and friends such as this handy self-assessment guide on maintaining seniors’ independence through home adaptations.

Enabling Environments have some great examples for creating beautiful and enabling spaces for people living with Alzheimers and Dementia.

Stats & Such

Just so you know, I didn’t pull numbers from the air. I sourced my data from Statistics Canada.

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