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Plan ahead to create an age-friendly home

It’s too late to make modifications to your home after a health crisis hits.

  • News
  • Read Time: 5 mins

Research shows that older Australians want to stay in their homes for as long as possible. 

However, the home that was suitable and easy to live in in our younger years can become a prison as we manage the diseases and ailments that come with ageing. 

The good news is that there are options, including downsizing into more age-friendly accommodation. 

Many older people opt to adapt or modify their house to their changed needs.  

Modifications vary from major changes, such as installing a chair lift and making more room for wheelchair access, to more simple access features such as replacing steps with a ramp or installing safety railings. 

You may qualify for government financial support to modify your home. Details can be found here.  

However, the need to modify your home may not become obvious until a crisis, such as a fall or illness, by which time it could be too late. 

Need for easy self-assessment

Researchers have confirmed many older Australians are living in homes with clear hazards and limited accessibility as they age, but few are addressing these challenges properly. 

A Flinders University study found a key reason for the poor planning is a lack the information to properly assess safety risks. 

It found decision-making around home safety could be compromised by a lack of awareness, inadequate access to information, and the sudden onset of age-related changes. 

The findings are likely to inform Federal Government changes to the current Commonwealth Home Support Programme (and Home Care Packages), which are likely to begin in 2025.  

Most participants in the study accepted the ageing process and could recognise hazards and potential risks. However, others were determined to remain independent at home and resistant to making future changes until necessary. 

“They were all interested in obtaining more information about how to improve home safety or services to support ageing in place,” Associate Professor Kate Laver said. 

“This shows we need tools that enable older people and their families to properly self-assess their own homes. This tool would be available both in hard copy and as a digital tool and will be used to promote and support future planning,” she said. 

The National Disability Insurance Scheme could provide a model for the development of a self-assessment home modification tool that is relevant to older people and their families. An example of such a self-assessment tool is available here


Related reading: Hello Care, Flinders University, My Aged Care, NSA Housing Report 


John Austin

John Austin

Policy and Communications Officer, National Seniors Australia

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