Renovating to Age in Place

Many houses in Nova Scotia were built long before accessibility needs were considered. Therefore, many homes do not accommodate walkers, wheelchairs or other mobility needs and many require the residents to climb stairs to reach essential parts of the house.  Often, accommodation can be a small matter of adjusting furniture placement or increasing light.  However, aging in place can sometimes only be achieved by renovating.

If you are a low-income senior, Housing Nova Scotia offers grants and forgivable loans for in-home modifications and installations to lower-income seniors who plan to remain in their homes for at least 6 months after the adaptations are made. For more information or to find out if you are eligible for these programs, please visit the Housing Nova Scotia website. They have also created a helpful brochure with the government assistance programs for lower-income Nova Scotians, which you can find here.

Some insurance companies also cover costs related to home improvements or caregiving.  Please contact your insurance provider to find out if you are eligible for full or partial financial coverage.

Here are a few things to consider before renovating:

  1. Talk with the doctor before renovating; confirm that the trajectory of your loved one’s medical condition will allow them to continue to live at home.
  2. You may also want to speak with a realtor and think about whether renovations will be a selling feature in the future or if it will be counter-productive.
  3. Is it important to your loved one that the value of the renovation can be realized in the selling price of the home in the future?  Will they get their money back?

Housing Options for People with Dementia and Maintaining Seniors’ Independence Through Home Adaptations: A Self Assessment Guide from the Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation have some great suggestions on how to alter your environment to make it more senior-friendly.  offers design ideas and useful tips to make different areas of your home more dementia-friendly. The modifications they suggest may also be helpful for people with low vision or mobility issues.

Caregiver Tips

Here are a few things you may want to consider before renovating.

Is your loved one able to handle the supervision of a contractor and respond to questions?  If not, an important consideration in renovating is your ability to monitor, problem-solve or manage the project. It’s not just about your loved one’s ability to stay at home. It is also about your ability to cope with additional demands on your time and energy.

It’s not only ok, it is necessary, that you think realistically about taking on another project.  And if you decide to do so, something’s got to give.  You are likely maxed out now so if you choose to take this on, what other tasks in your life will be delegated to someone else?  Perhaps our Where to Begin guide can help you prioritize your caregiving tasks.

Wouldn’t it be great if caregiving was just the hands-on part? Consider how much time you spend thinking about caregiving, worrying about it, planning around it, feeling guilty that you are not doing more, being angry that others are not helping, or wondering how long you can keep this up!  Adding it all up you begin to realize how much caregiving occupies your thoughts.

You may find What can we change? How can we change it? is a useful resource to help you understand the depth of your involvement in caregiving,  Please give us a call and we will work with you to identify your options.