The majority of Canadians want to ‘age in place’--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 only a quarter expect they will be able to do so.
The conversations surrounding the subject are changing. As Canada’s population ages, new technologies are introduced and post-pandemic attitudes shift about long-term care, we see a growing focus on supporting aging in place.
At the national level is the ‘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. See more about the program at nrc.canada.ca.
There are also many local examples of 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, snow removal, home maintenance work and 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.
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 help with housework. 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 information and empowering them to live an independent life in a place of their choosing.
A key part of independent living is creating a home that work for us--a topic explored at a recent Lunch 'n' Learn, organized by Age Friendly Edmonton. Speaker Shelley Thompson, a retired occupational therapist, shared about her experiences helping people with their daily lives.
“We often think if we’re having an issue, we need to change our behaviour,” said Thompson. “In 90 per cent of the cases, if we change the environment, it will change the issue. The number one reason people leave their home is because of outside maintenance. The next reason is the kitchen area, and the third tends to be around the bathroom.”
Thompson suggested modifications like installing dimmer switches, upgraded toilets, and cabinet pulls. She also said pathways in and outside the home need to be clear of clutter. “Don't wait until a crisis, do it now. I've been working on my house for the last 20 years and will keep working on it.”
There is work happening to close the gap between the desire to age in place and reality. With groups like Seniors Home Supports and Age Friendly Edmonton leading the way, aging where we want, how we want, for as long as we want can be a reality. Find out more at seniorscouncil.net.