I always recommend planning ahead, whenever possible, but if you’ve been in an accident and sustained traumatic injuries, planning ahead is not always possible. If this happens, you’ll need to determine, sometimes fairly quickly, if you can return to your current home and continue to live safely and independently.
Modifying your current home may be an option or you may need to move to a new home that can be modified to meet your needs.
Post-accident housing options, once you’ve been discharged from the rehab hospital, are very limited. Finding the right solution will require advice and guidance from your rehab team, including your Occupational Therapist.
When Should You Plan Ahead?
If you do have the luxury of planning ahead, then I encourage you to do so. I like to use the chess match analogy: great chess players are always planning ahead 3-4 moves. Be a chess player!
Do you fall within one of these categories?
- You have an injury or progressive disease that is currently, or will eventually impact your mobility;
- You have a child with a disability – kids grow, and our mobility and ability to care for them changes over time;
- You’re an older adult who wants to age in place;
- You live in a muti-generational home with older parents or grand-parents.
If you’re in one of these categories, then you need to consider if your current home can meet your long-term needs. You may not need an accessible home right now, but at some point you will and it’s better to be proactive than reactive. This is where I can help. I invite you to call and tell me your story and I will help you put a plan in motion.
There are more than 6 million Canadians over the age of 15 who have a disability, which translates into 22% of the population. And based on very outdated statistics, approximately 10% of the Canadian population under 15 years of age has a disability.
Furthermore, we have an aging population. There are now more people living in Canada over the age of 65 than under 15 years old, and by 2030, 23% of the population will be over 65.
Also, more than 85% of adults over the age of 55 want to age in place in their own home and community for as long as possible. So, it’s not surprising that home ownership among seniors aged 75+ is on the rise. Seniors are staying in their homes longer, and this trend was occurring long before 2020. The pandemic has only reinforced this trend.
Questions To Ask
Here is a list of questions to ask and consider before deciding to modify or move. You may find it helpful to ask for help from family and professionals when compiling these lists:
1. What are your needs and your family’s needs now? How about 5 years from now? 10 years from now?
Start making a list of things you need now and anticipate needing in the coming years.
Consider your needs at home:
- Will you need an extra bedroom for a caregiver?
- Do you have any adult children that may want to return home?
- Do you need a home office?
- Consider your needs in the community:
- Grocery store
- Doctors, medical centres, hospital
- Do you currently drive and rely on your vehicle to get you to store and appointments? Do you have alternative transportation if you’re not able to drive?
2. Have you consulted with an Occupational Therapist?
An OT can make recommendations for present-day needs and potential future needs like an accessible entrance or bathroom. OTs are an important part of the rehab team after an injury or accident.
3. Is your current home suitable to modify?
Talk with a home modification expert. Not all houses are ideal to modify. For example, split level homes can be challenging, and townhouses often don’t have the necessary space or have too many levels to add accessibility features.
Many people are surprised to find out that not all condos are created equal. See my Winter 2022 Community article titled “Buying A Wheelchair Accessible Condo.”
4. What is your financial situation? Can you afford to modify or move?
Before making any big money decisions, it’s important to get an up-to-date analysis of your assets and savings. If you have a financial consultant, now would be the time for a check-up.
Get estimates for both modifying and moving, so you can put together a realistic budget.
I’ve worked with a number of clients over the years who chose to plan ahead and either modified their existing home or moved to a home that could accommodate their long-term needs.
However, if you’re hesitant to plan too far ahead, you’re not alone. Most people of all ages expect their current health and financial situation to continue and are more likely to make short-term decisions, rather than plan ahead.
I encourage you to be proactive and plan ahead to achieve freedom at home. Be a chess player!