After years of coaxing and cajoling, my mother recently downsized from the massive two-storey home she used to share with my late father to a more manageable bungalow. The benefits of the move were two-fold. As she sold her old home for more than she paid for the new one, she was able to pad her retirement fund. The smaller bungalow meant fewer stairs to navigate and less property for her to maintain – and modify if her health deteriorates as she ages.
While readers of this blog are probably already thinking about – if not already planning for – their retirement, there are a number of age-related costs you may not have thought about for yourself (or your parents).
Home Modified Home
The type of modifications required obviously depends on you – or your parents’ – physical health, but they can range from installing grab bars in the bathroom and widening doorways to allow for wheelchair access, to adding access ramps, elevators, or chair lifts along stairways.
Two rooms in particular, the kitchen and bathroom, can require extensive and costly renovations to enable the elderly to keep living in their own homes.
Kitchen modifications can range from basic things like faucets with lever handles (easier to operate with arthritic hands) and adding additional task lighting to help sight-impaired see better, to counters and cabinets that raise and lower at the touch of a button to allow access for the wheelchair-bound.
In the bathroom, in addition to grab bars, there are toilets that are taller than normal, making it easier to sit down and stand up from, tilting mirrors and sinks for use from wheelchairs, and even bathtubs with water-tight doors built into the side for easier access.
Get A Hand Outfitting Your House
There are a number of programs providing financial assistance for necessary modifications. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) for example, has several, including the Homeowner Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program (RRAP) and Home Adaptations for Seniors’ Independence (HASI), that can help low-income seniors modify their homes. Depending on where you live in the country, RRAP offers qualified applications up to $24,000, while HASI provides up to $3,500 in grants.
The Ride of Your Life
While one of the perks of retirement is ditching the daily commute, you’ll likely still need to get around town. But while we may fanatisize about cruising around in a convertible, the reality is that many of us will require a more practical ride. Whether it’s a minivan (climbing up and down can be easier than sinking down into a low-rider) or a wheel-chair accessible van, budgeting for a new vehicle may not be something you would have thought of. The Ontario government’s Seniors’ Secretariat Home and Vehicle Modification Program does provide assistance for low-income seniors, and other provinces have similar programs.
Keep Your Health In Check
If you’re fortunate enough to have a health plan through work, lucky you – but make sure it’s one that you can continue on with after retirement. If not (or if you’re self-employed), you’re wise to investigate signing up for a health care plan while you’re young and relatively healthy.
While many prescriptions are covered by provincial health plans (and dispensing fees are typically waived by pharmacies for seniors), some drugs and a variety of amenities – like canes, walkers, and other everyday aids – may not be covered by the public plan. See “No Employee Benefits?” for a rundown of the various options.