As our health and lives change, so do our housing needs. Across Canada, the overwhelming majority of seniors prefer doing renovations in order to continue to live safely and independently in their own homes for as long as possible. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has a number of tips on how to renovate a home to keep pace with changing needs, so seniors can stay safe, independent — and in their own home — longer, including: Repair holes or uneven joints in walkways that could cause tripping. Replace steep slopes with steps or a low-slope ramp. Add a ramp to bypass existing steps. Install light fixtures or floodlights with easily accessible switches to illuminate entrances, steps and walkways. Repair all unsafe stair handrails. Install handrails on both sides of the stairways. Replace worn or loose coverings and mark the edges of stairs with a permanent stripe in a contrasting colour. If you are planning a renovation on the stairs in your current home, or building a new home that has stairs, make sure that the back vertical portion of the step (the rise) is not too high and that the horizontal part of the step (the tread) has adequate depth. If you live in a two-storey home, consider creating a bedroom, a full bathroom, and having the clothes washer and dryer on the ground floor. Reduce the height of, or eliminate, high door thresholds at room entrances. Use a contrasting colour or texture on the edge of the floor wherever there is a change in the floor level. Adjust sinks, counters and cupboards to a more convenient height. Create a knee-space underneath sinks to allow you to work from a seated position (making sure to insulate any exposed hot-water pipes first). Install grab bars within easy reach of the bathroom sink and toilet and in the bathtub. Install non-slip flooring in the bathroom and in the bathtub. Install single-lever faucets to more easily control water flow and temperature. Add or lower rods or shelves in closets, and add off-floor shelves near entrances for shoes and boots. Repair windows and sliding doors so that they can open and close easily. Consider installing easy-to-grasp door handles, easy-to-operate door locks, as well as security grilles at windows that are vulnerable to forced entry. Lastly, if you have an aging parent, relative or friend, you may want to consider adding a garden suite on the same lot as your home. Garden suites are small, prefabricated, portable and self-contained homes that enable seniors to live close to their relatives or friends, while maintaining their independence and privacy — and giving family members or friends greater peace of mind. For more information or free copies of the CMHC Self-Assessment Guide Maintaining Seniors’ Independence Through Home Adaptations, the fact sheet Preventing Falls on Stairs fact sheets on universal design ideas that can make your home safer and easier to live in, or for general information on CMHC’s renovation programs, including those for garden suites, call CMHC at 1-800-668-2642 or visit CMHC’s Web site at www.cmhc.ca. For over 60 years, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has been Canada’s national housing agency, and a source of objective, reliable housing expertise. To get in touch to schedule renovations, you can fill out an online form or give us a call at (613) 727-9427.
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