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It was after Richard Dutchak hired an occupational therapist to help his elderly mother-in-law stay in her home as long as possible that he started thinking about his own living arrangements later in life.

Recently retired, Mr. Dutchak and his spouse believe their long-term plan is likely to downsize from their beloved custom-built, multi-level home in Winnipeg.


“We’re psyching ourselves up and convincing ourselves,” he says about planning for the eventual time when going up and down stairs could become more of a challenge as they age.

Still, if the couple knew 30 years ago what they have come to realize today, “we would have built a bungalow and included an easy path to make it friendly for aging,” Mr. Dutchak says

They’re far from alone. Most Canadians are considering growing old in their own homes, in particular after watching the disproportionately http://www.bbc.co.uk/search?q=hospital bed negative impact the pandemic had on seniors in long-term care residences. A survey from the National Institute of Ageing and Telus Health released last fall found that 91 per cent of Canadians of all ages, and almost 100 per cent of Canadians 65 years of age and older, plan on supporting themselves to live safely and independently in their own home as long as possible.

A recent March of Dimes study on aging in place shows 35 per cent of working adults and 40 per cent retirees plan to modify their homes for care-related reasons, which the organization said represents “a sizable proportion of the Canadian population who have or will address disability- or aging-related concerns through modifying their homes.”

The ability for Canadians to age in place depends on their budget, including a willingness to plan ahead for the possibility of falling ill as they age.

“Most people do not want to think about this stuff,” says MaryAnn Kokan-Nyhof, an adviser with Desjardins Financial Security Investments Inc. in Winnipeg. She says the subject of saving money to hire a nurse to come to your home or make it wheelchair accessible is about as popular as life insurance and estate planning.

“Nobody likes talking about their morbidity and mortality,” she says.

Ms. Kokan-Nyhof’s family did a major renovation on their home 15 years ago, which included putting in best hospital bed chairs wier doorways for wheelchair access and a accessible toilet and bars.

“[They were done] specifically for my mom, who now lives with us,” she says, believing the modifications will add value to her home as more middle-aged Canadians see their parents challenged by frailty and disability in old age.

Contractor Ryan Johnson, a partner with Alair Homes in Barrie, Ont., has seen a jump in retired Canadians turning cottages into permanent homes, and says a big trend is building master bedrooms on the main floor, which is more accessible, while the adult children and grandkids’ rooms are on the second floor.

Adding a master bedroom along with a full bathroom to the main floor of a two-storey home are common modifications that “improve safety, participation and function for people,” as they age, says Winnipeg-based occupational therapist Marnie Courage, founder of Enabling Access Inc., which provides home assessments for aging in place, including for Mr. Dutchak’s mother-in-law.

Canadians are increasingly willing to spend on renovations like wider doorways and walk-in bathtubs that are both practical and look good.

“The big concern we hear is ‘Will this look like a hospital?’” says Michael Reimer, owner of Vulcan Construction, which specializes in aging-in-place renovations.

Accessibility modifications can be aesthetically pleasing, he says, citing the example of a main-floor full bathroom.