University of Calgary. That way, he says,you’re not rushed into making a badchoice or having to move because youcan’t adapt your house quickly enoughfor your needs.
If you’re not sure where to begin, seethe sidebar, page 37, for help figuringout what to do. You can also havean occupational therapist conduct arisk assessment, says Lili Liu, chair ofOccupational Therapy in the Faculty ofRehabilitation Medicine at the Universityof Alberta.
Liu’s area of expertise includes
universal design, housing that works for
everyone. “The first thing that we want
to look at is the individual and the group
of individuals that are going to be using
that space,” she says. “It’s not only about
the person living there. It’s also about
family members, care providers or other
professionals who come in and provide
assistance to that individual.”
Kitchens, bathrooms, outdoor access
and stairs are among the areas that
need attention when renovating to
age in place. Costs can range from less
than $100 to paint stairs with non-stick
surfacing to hundreds of thousands to
retrofit a whole house. (See sidebar, page
37, for financial help with the cost.)
A kitchen counter designed for a person
in a wheelchair is useful, but can cause
back problems for someone standing. If
different people will be using a counter,
Liu says it’s useful to install counters at
multiple levels, or counters that move up
Appliances that automatically turnoff are also useful. So are drawerdishwashers at counter level that don’trequire the user to reach down or bendover. It’s also a good idea to makeyour microwave easy to reach. Liurecommends induction stovetops, too,which are safer than gas or electric.
In the bathroom, water makes surfacesslippery, which increases the chance offalls. Alberta Aids to Daily Living hasprograms that pay for grab bars forpeople with mobility problems.
Physiotherapist Cathy Harbidge,coordinator of the Calgary FallPrevention Clinic, recommends non-slipmats for in the tub and the floor aroundthe tub. She suggests putting a nightlightalong the path to the bathroom. You canalso install a strip of sensor LED lightsthat will automatically turn on.
Your home’s entrance
Getting in and out of the house is often
a problem because most entrances
have steps, which can lead to falls. It’s
important to have a railing and a non-
When Pat and Bill Wishart redid their
bathroom more than 10 years ago, they
were in their early seventies and more
interested in age-proofing than updating
“We didn’t want to fall,” Pat says.
“We had some friends who were older
than we were, and we were listening to
the problems they were having. They
were having to move out of their house
and into a seniors centre. We really
didn’t want to leave our home that early
because we were still mobile and able to
The Wisharts renovated the bathroom
in their Edmonton bungalow. Renos
included a raised toilet seat that makes
sitting and standing easier. They also
added a grab bar on one side of the
bathtub for safety.
Because they’re less mobile now,they’re installing a second bar onanother side of the tub. A few years ago,they added another handrail to theirbasement staircase, so they now have oneon each side. They are also getting rid ofclutter, which can pose tripping hazards.
The Wisharts’ changes are amongthose John Brown recommends peoplemake as they age—and when they wantto stay in their own homes.
“The time to start thinking andplanning these things is early,” saysBrown, an architect and dean of theFaculty of Environmental Design at the
The time to start
thinking and planning
these things is early