Aging in Place: Planning Future Life Today

BCCRN blog cover: older person being cared for by a family member or medical staff person in their home

Aging in place is gaining popularity with older people staying in their own homes longer rather than moving into care facilities. In most cases, with a little planning and the right supports, older people can look forward to a future life in the comfort of their homes and communities.  This article provides information to start the planning process, along with resources, tools and insights. 

Canada’s Aging Population

In July 2022, more than 7.3 million Canadians were aged 65 or older, or about 1 in 5. That proportion is expected to increase, resulting from longer life expectancies and the number of aging Baby Boomers. Not only are many older people more independent and physically fit than in past generations, many are passing 100 years old. As our demographics change, so must our attitudes about aging.

Aging looks different for everyone. Hearing and vision impairment, muscle and bone loss, diabetes and cardiovascular disease are conditions that can usually be managed. If diagnosed with cognitive decline, a senior may find it more difficult or unsafe to live on their own. Even so, aging in place might mean moving to a smaller home or renovating a current one to make it more conducive to an older person. 

A national survey revealed that 78 percent of Canadians want to age in place, but only 26 percent feel that’s possible for them. The study’s conclusion was that with proper assistive devices such as building access ramps and smart technology, aging in place is doable for many people. By planning ahead, including finding refit grants, aging in one’s own environment is both attainable and successful.

The Financial Aspect of Aging in Place

According to gerontologist Wendy Johnstone, aging in place can cost between $1,500 and $4,000 a month, escalating as an older person declines. “Statistically speaking, ‘72% of seniors aged 85 or older living in the community have high complexity (40%) or medium complexity (33%) chronic conditions (B.C. Seniors Advocate).’ In other words, you can expect to start paying for services when you are no longer able to live independently without the help from others,” Johnstone says.

In the comprehensive report, Home Support… We Can Do Better, B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie reported that: 

  • 15 percent (4,200 beds) of long-term-care residents could be living in the community
  • On average, a long-term care bed costs taxpayers $27,740 more per year than two hours of daily home support

One cost that hasn’t been monetized is the financial, physical and emotional strain on family members who are often relied upon for unpaid labour. Mackenzie’s report found that one-third of family caregivers are in distress. So while aging in place may cost less money, it does have to be resourced properly to be successful for all family members.

Planning for Aging in Place

When helping an older person plan for their future life, there are many considerations. Financial, as we’ve discussed, but also safety and their physical environment, healthcare needs, housekeeping help and socializing to prevent isolation. Here are a few highlights to kick off planning with some resources listed at the end.


  • Review the home for needed safety updates. Grab bars in the shower, lever handles for doors and faucets, grab bars, lower counters, non-slip floors and other safety alterations allow seniors and people with disabilities to remain in their homes. This guide shows which ones are eligible for tax credits. It’s not necessary to do everything on the list – or everything all at once. That’s the benefit of planning ahead, remembering that circumstances can change.


  • As bodies age, activities may become limited. If possible, staying active can prevent or decrease the effects of many health concerns. A short walk with a friend or caregiver is simple but effective. 
  • As mobility declines, there are many assistive devices to help with small things like picking something up to major help like chair lifts. Depending on the device required, costs may be covered or reimbursed through healthcare insurance or government grants.
  • Smart technology offers many benefits. A wearable device, like a smart watch, can monitor blood pressure, blood sugar and activity levels, and send reminders to take medications or drink water. Other devices can open and close the blinds, turn on the lights or music, and dial phone calls. Some seniors are uncomfortable with technology, including privacy concerns, but when properly set up, these concerns can be minimized.
  • BC’s health authorities have programs to assist with home care visits. There are private companies offering this service for those ineligible for public programs.


  • There are provincial and local programs to offer assistance with housekeeping, grocery shopping, meal preparation and laundry. If the person doesn’t qualify, these tasks can be performed by a for-pay service, family members or connections in the community.
  • Specialized services are available in many communities. For example, many grocery stores offer grocery selection and delivery, household items can be bought online, and fresh or frozen meals may be prepared and delivered by local food companies. Some community organizations and seniors centres have volunteers for these services.


  • Build into the plan ways to socialize with family or friends, as mental health and isolation can be just as debilitating as physical challenges.
  • A great legacy from the pandemic, online communities and computer meeting software have become easier to use and are accessible for free. Some folks will need assistance with the technology, but thanks to Zoom, Google Meet and others, older people and those with disabilities can still visit, have book club meetings, quilt or knit together, and even play games like chess or bridge.
  • handyDART, a bus service for people with physical disabilities, is run by BC Transit. Qualified riders can book transportation to and from accessible locations. Doctors offices, seniors centres, shopping and many other visits are made possible with this exceptional service.

Planning for Future Life Makes Aging in Place Accessible

Successful aging in place takes planning, willingness to accept outside help and having a support network in place. Not all families live in the same community, for example, but a health authority case manager may be able to review the plan once a year. In other cases, families may move their loved ones into their homes or help their elder downsize. 

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to aging in place in Canada. Setting up systems for help in an older person’s future life, such as housekeeping, transportation, meal prep and personal care, is creating a pathway to success.

There are clearly many benefits to aging in place. With enough financial resources and grants, early planning and clear directions for evolving care needs, older people can create the future lives they want without burdening their families.


Planning for Aging in Place: Resources from the Government of Canada to understand the concept and various planning tools.

Aging in Place planning checklist: Available from the federal government, this downloadable list gives pointers on finances, safety, health, socializing and other important things to consider. Available in standard print, large print and braille.

Aging in Place, Healthlink BC: Assess the home for aging in place, apply for BC Seniors’ Home Renovation Tax Credit, learn about the Better at Home program that can help with non-medical chores and build a budget around aging in place. 


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