Not surprisingly, the majority of Canadians want to ‘age in place’ — be able to live safely and independently in their home or community for as long as they wish and are able. However, few are confident that will be a reality. According to the National Home Modifications Survey by March of Dimes Canada and Caregiver Omnimedia, more than three-quarters of Canadians want to age in their current homes – but just about a quarter expect they will be able to do so.
The conversations surrounding the subject are changing at all levels. As Canada’s population ages, new technologies are introduced, and post-pandemic attitudes shift about long-term care, we are seeing a growing focus on finding ways to support aging in place.
At the national level is the recently launched ‘Aging in Place Challenge’ from the National Research Council. The initiative encourages collaboration and innovation to shift focus toward preventive home and community‑based care for older adults, thereby supporting a sustainable model for long-term care in Canada.
There are also many local examples of work and approaches which help older adults age well at home.
Seniors Home Supports Program connects older adults with companies for hire: including those providing yard work and snow removal to home maintenance work to personal services. All companies have undergone a thorough vetting process, so the client can have peace of mind if they choose to hire one of the referred service providers.
It helps to fill an identified need in the Edmonton area. In the 2019 Older Adults Needs Assessment, by the City of Edmonton and Age Friendly Edmonton, respondents indicated they most need assistance with home and yard maintenance, followed by housework assistance. Participants also said they had difficulty knowing where to look for help and/or finding qualified help.
Seniors Home Supports Program addresses those concerns. It not only connects clients with reputable service providers but allows the client to have the final say about how to proceed — providing Edmonton seniors with the information and empowerment to live an independent life in a place of their choosing.
A key part of independent living is creating homes that work for us. A recent Lunch ‘n’ Learn organized by Age Friendly Edmonton dove into this very topic. Recognizing the desire among many Edmontonians for simple modifications or tips to help us stay in our homes as long as possible, Age Friendly Edmonton lined up speaker Shelley Thompson. Thompson is a retired occupational therapist and shared insight from her experiences helping people with their daily activities.
“We often think if we’re having an issue, we need to change our behaviour,” said Thompson. “I find it’s the environment that is so easy to change. And in 90 per cent of the cases, if we change the environment, it will change the issue.”
Thompson highlighted three key areas in and around our homes on which to focus our attention. “The research is telling us the number one reason people leave their home is because of outside maintenance,” she explained. “The next reason is the kitchen area… and the third area tends to be all around the bathroom.”
She proceeded to list some modifications for consideration, including installing dimmer switches, upgrading toilets, and replacing cabinetry pulls. Thompson also shared tips such as ensuring pathways both inside and outside your home are clear of clutter or debris.
She stressed the importance of continual attention. “Don't wait until a crisis, do it now. I've been working on my house for the last 20 years and will continue to keep working on it and tweaking it.”
While many Canadians may have concerns about realizing their aging in place goals, there is plenty of work happening to close the gap between desire and reality. With groups like Seniors Home Supports and Age Friendly Edmonton at the forefront of these approaches and conversations, aging where we want, how we want, for as long as we want can be a reality.
Watch Age Friendly Edmonton's Lunch 'n' Learn series here
Find out more about Seniors Home Supports Program here