The cost of retrofitting your home to age in place

For many retirees, making their house a ‘forever home’ is entirely possible—but it may mean budgeting for a few modifications along the way.

The right renos can help your parents grow older in their home

Your parents may be among the majority of Canadian seniors hoping to spend the rest of their lives in the comfort of their own homes. For many retirees, making their house a ‘forever home’ is entirely possible—but it may mean budgeting for a few modifications along the way. And as a supportive family member, you may need to help out.   

If your older family members are hoping to ‘age-in-place,’ they’re not alone. More than three-quarters of Canadians want to age in their homes, according to a 2021 National Home Modifications Survey, commissioned by March of Dimes Canada.   

But while their existing home may be a perfect fit now, chances are that as they age, their needs and their lifestyle will change. For your parents, their home can and should adapt along with them. 

Mobility and accessibility   

For many seniors, the main factor to take into account when it comes to aging in place is the chance that they may develop a health issue, a disability or that their mobility may decrease over time.  

According to Statistics Canada, the prevalence of disability increases with age. While only 13% of those aged 15 to 24 years report living with a disability, this number increases to nearly half of Canadians over age 75. The Public Health Agency of Canada also notes that nearly three-quarters of people over 65 have at least one common chronic disease, such as hypertension or osteoarthritis. 

Make a budget for home modifications 

For almost all older Canadians, finding ways to retrofit their home to meet their needs is the solution. As the same March of Dimes survey found, 93% of seniors agree that home modifications help people to age-in-place.   

But even if they’re not ready to make every major change right away, it’s a good time to budget, plan ahead and start working towards making adjustments to ensure your parents’ home is comfortable and easy to navigate now and well into the future.  

Prioritize those renos 

As this checklist from Employment and Social Development Canada explains, start by considering whether the features in their home can support their mobility and health needs for at least the next 10 or 15 years.   

Depending on their needs, this can be done through changes as small as adding grab bars in the bathroom, or more significant renovations, if required, such as adding a porch lift on the exterior of your home to bypass the stairs. 

Keep it cheap and cheerful to start 

When retrofitting a home to age in place, there are several low and no-cost modifications that seniors and their families can start with, to make a home more accessible.  

As the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation notes, these include removing unnecessary doors from inside the home to improve access for those using a walker or wheelchair, installing slip-resistant flooring, adding a bath seat in the shower and installing motion detector or timed lights in the home. 

Assess all living areas, inside and out   

Modifications can be made to almost every area of the home—with some carrying higher price tags than others, and changes depending on the type of property. Some areas that might need to be considered include:


  • Outdoors: If parents are no longer able to navigate stairs, ramps or a porch lift may need to be considered. If managing outdoor tasks such as snow shoveling or yard maintenance have become a challenge, they may want to hire landscaping services. 

  • Bathroom(s): Seniors may need to add grab bars/rails to the bathtub, a raised toilet seat, a walk-in bath or convert a tub to a shower. 

  • Stairs: An indoor staircase may benefit from an additional handrail or a stairlift. 

  • Bedroom: Your parents may wish to install an adjustable bed. They may also opt for a senior alarm or medical alert system where they’re able to call for help at the push of a button. 

  • Kitchen: Consider whether you need to widen doorways, lower counters/cabinets or add non-slip tiles or lever handles. 

Plan for the long-term   

The cost of renovations can go up significantly from there, depending on your parents’ needs — on the pricier side, for example: 

Research government programs and assistance  

In certain provinces, financial assistance and tax credits may be available to seniors staying in their homes. For example, the Ontario government has the Seniors Home Safety Tax Credit. Seniors aged 65 or older (or those who live with them) may be able to claim 25% of up to $10,000 in eligible renovation expenses for a tax credit on their 2021 return. Those renovations should improve safety and accessibility of the home and are intended to help a senior be more functional or mobile while aging in place.  

You may also want to check your eligibility for these programs with a tax advisor, who can offer more tailored guidance. And note that program details can change from time to time. While the above information was accurate at the time of publishing, you can always check official government websites for the most up-to-date information. 

Aging in place can evolve 

In most cases, the upgrades you make will offer your parents years of safe and comfortable living in their own home. At the same time, it’s important to keep in mind that your parents’ needs may change as they age, requiring different solutions. 

But as equipment wears out, you may need to fix and replace items as they reach the end of their lifespan. Make sure your budget reflects the reality that aging in place can be an evolving process.  

How Wyth Can Help 

  • As you consider managing your parents’ assets, consider a Wyth Financial High Interest Savings Account (HISA) as a liquid, secure and interest-bearing vehicle. 

  • If you want to lock in funds for a longer-term, consider a Wyth Financial Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs), as they have a guaranteed fixed rate. 

  • Wyth Trust is here to help you and your family navigate complex estate and trust needs.