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Uncharted Territory and Ageing in Place

Adventures in Eldercare December 2017

“Over the next 20 years Canada’s population of seniors is expected to grow by 68%” CIHI

The Canadian Institute for Health Information most recent projections indicate that Canada is now entering uncharted territory.

When you look at the population history of this great confederation, at no point has the percentage of seniors in society been so high. We can thank our good quality and abundant food, the elimination of bacterial diseases that used to kill millions and smaller family sizes.

The fact that the number of seniors 75 and older will more than double in the next 20 years is a frightening statistic. Is Canada ready for twice as many older seniors? Unfortunately the answer is a resounding NO, not even close. There has been absolutely no political will to address this, no infrastructure is being built, everyone just moves along every day, stumbling through a mishmash of agencies and a patchwork of short term interventions with no long-term planning. This is a very serious issue for low-income seniors and seniors with disabilities or on social assistance. This cohort depends on government intervention and initiatives for their very survival. Social housing will rise to the forefront in the next few years and I hope that all levels of government give this issue the urgent attention that it deserves.

So where does this leave everybody else? Senior’s today must understand that it is very probable that they will not follow their parents route, which most likely involved leaving the family home in older age and entering retirement housing or a long-term care facility. The newly minted senior should prepare for Ageing in Place. This concept means staying in their own home with assistance for personal care and modifications to the home for safety and ease of use.

Here are a few ideas to think about to make your home more amenable to ageing; start adding features like these, suggested by the experts involved in the Redefining Home initiative:

  • Stairless entries

  • A gradual outdoor incline up to the entry instead of ramps

  • Low or no thresholds at doorways

  • Doorways wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers

  • Widened hallways

  • Lever-style doorknobs

  • Lever-style faucet handles

  • Shallower countertops to put items in easier reach

  • Curbless shower stalls

  • Open-concept floor plans that provide better lighting, shorter hallways and easier movement

  • Single-floor living that includes a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and laundry on the same floor

  • Flexible living spaces that can change size or be used for more than one purpose

  • Slip-resistant floors and lighter-color floors for greater visibility

  • Lower placement of light switches and higher placement of electrical outlets

  • More windows for better indoor light

This is not a comprehensive list, there are thousands of design ideas that can help the ageing senior live safely and successfully in their own home. A great place to start is keeping ease of design ideas foremost in your mind when doing any repairs or renovation to your home over the next few years. Knowing what is coming and being prepared for what is coming are two different things. Make Ageing in Place preparation a priority today for a better future tomorrow.

If you are interested in reading more about this interesting and important topic check out this link,

Dr. Bruce Veltri is the founder of Victoria Eldercare, a Norfolk owned and operated homecare service. For more information, feedback or to suggest future article themes please contact 519-429-2644 or visit

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