Nova Scotia

All N.S. homes should be accessible: study

The Atlantic Seniors Housing Research Alliance has released a study recommending all homes in the province be accessible for an aging population.

The Atlantic Seniors Housing Research Alliance has released a study recommending all homes in the province be accessible for an aging population.

Donald Shiner lead the six-year study recommending all homes in the province be accessible.

Shiner, a business professor at Mount Saint Vincent University, said the current building codes should be changed to accommodate seniors or those with disabilities.

Shiner said people should think ahead about what they can do to prepare for their own senior years.

"Our housing stock has been built as if we were Peter Pan, you know, it's been built as if we'll never grow old or never get sick," said Shiner.

"If you build ... wider doorways, one wheelchair-accessible bathroom on the ground floor, one room on the ground floor that can be used as a bedroom if you do those things as you build the home, you're way ahead of the game."

According to the study, the senior population in the Maritimes is the highest in the country, and is projected to increase 86.3 per cent between 2007 and 2033.

"It was a six-year study which included detailed surveys of seniors and their needs, their expectations, how they lived — it gave us a lot of insight into seniors in Atlantic Canada and their homes and the problems they face," said Shiner.

Ten years ago, Shiner's elderly in-laws moved into his home.

"We were fortunate enough to be able to sit down with them and talk to them about putting an extension on our home."

Paul Pettipas, chief executive officer of the Nova Scotia Home Builders' Association, agrees homeowners have to think about their future.

"People have got to realize that even if they're a little younger, things could change for them, and it's not only aging, it could be an accident, or it could be an older member of your family coming to live with you."

Shiner said he spoke to federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for seniors last month about the study.

He also said he'd like to see a government rebate — much like environmental upgrades to homes — but to make homes accessible.

Shiner hopes his group's recommendations will get people thinking about housing for seniors.

 

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