The onset of dementia doesn’t necessarily mean that people have to stop living on their own.
People with Alzheimer’s can, with assistance and modifications to their home, live independently for years.
Installing handrails and converting a bathtub to a walk-in shower, replacing doorknobs with lever handles, or tile flooring with a non-slip alternative, for example, can sometimes be all that’s needed.
Costs for those retrofits can add up and many seniors can’t afford them. But most provinces have programs in place to help offset those expenses.
Many of those agencies also provide non-taxable grants and loans to qualified caregivers who want to move a loved one into their own home, but whose home needs renovations to accommodate that loved one safely.
There’s even cash to help construct secondary suites and extensions to your home, as long as that new space will be used to house a disabled senior.
Generally, the money is available to low-income seniors (the definition of which varies from province to province) or their caregivers. An application is required (available online or by calling the overseeing office); it needs to be reviewed and approved before determining if you qualify, and, if you do, for how much.
Some programs have set budgets and once those budgets are spent, the program closes for that fiscal year; the programs can also be cut or closed without notice.
Translation: apply early and don’t commit to any contractor before finding out if you will get any money from the government.
The following list includes programs province by province that might help you or your family member secure funding to convert personal space into a more dementia-friendly home.
British Columbia Home Adaptations for Independence
Who’s eligible: Low-income seniors and people with disabilities; homeowners and renters both qualify.
Benefit: Up to $20,000 per home.
What it can be used for: Permanent adaptations to a home. A walk-in shower and grab bars, yes; a walker, probably not.
For details click here; 604-433-2218 /1-800-257-7756.
Residential Access Modification program
Who’s eligible: Alberta residents who are wheelchair users.
Benefit: Up to $5,000.
What it can be used for: Home modifications that help with access into or throughout your home. Money is available for both homeowners and renters who have permission from their landlord to modify their apartment.
Alberta Special Needs Assistance for Seniors
Who’s eligible: Alberta residents collecting the Alberta Seniors Benefit (social assistance).
Benefit: Up to $5,000 in a single year.
What it can be used for: Home repairs and the purchase of some appliances; funeral expenses for a spouse.
Home Repair Program Adaption for Independence
Who’s eligible: Low- to moderate-income homeowners improving their homes so a disabled person can live there independently.
Benefit: Up to $23,000.
What it can be used for: To renovate a house to accommodate a family member or tenant with a disability. The particular modifications must be determined by a qualified health care provider.
Residential Adaptations for Disabilities Program
Who’s eligible: Low- to mid-income homeowners.
Benefit: Up to $16,000.
What it can be used for: Widening doorways, installing ramps, handrails and lift systems.
For details click here; the Province of Manitoba Housing Delivery, 204-945-5566
No specific grants we could find at time of writing. However, Ontario does offer a tax credit program. It’s not a grant: You don’t get a lump sum from the government. Instead these are non-refundable tax credits which allow you to reduce any taxes owing, but don’t pay a refund.
Ontario Healthy Homes Renovation Tax Credit
You can claim this tax credit when you modify your home to improve safety and accessibility, if you share that home with any person aged 65 or older. The credit is not means tested; anyone can claim it as long as they are a senior or living with someone who is a senior.
Here’s how it works: You can claim up to $10,000 in modification expenses for any tax year. The amount you get back [as a credit] is 15 percent of those expenses, so a maximum of $1,500 a year. There is no life-time cap: you can claim this credit in any year that you made these kinds of renovations.
You make the purchase, and just keep your receipts. You declare the deduction on your income tax for the year in which those purchases were made.
What it can be used for: Large expenses (like bathroom renovations, wheelchair/walker ramps and stair lifts), as well as smaller ones (such as relocating light switches, installing extra light fixtures, hands-free taps, or touch-and-release cupboard drawers in a kitchen, etc.).
Residential Adaptation Assistance Program
Who’s eligible: People with disabilities that interfere with their everyday functioning and independence. A report from an occupational therapist is required, to confirm a “significant and persistent” disability, and that home renovations are needed to accommodate that.
Benefit: Up to $16,000.
What it can be used for: To improve access into and throughout a home. For example: installing ramps, creating larger doorways and remodeling bathrooms.
Housing assistance for persons with disabilities
Who’s eligible: New Brunswick homeowners modifying their home so it can be occupied by someone with disabilities—either themselves or another person with some impairment that stops them from performing activities in a range considered “normal.”
Benefit: A forgivable loan up to $24,000.
What it can be used for: Creation of a secondary/garden suite or an extension of an existing dwelling.
Federal/Provincial Repair program
Who’s eligible: Low-income senior homeowners who have trouble with daily living at home.
Benefit: A forgivable loan up to $3,500.
What it can be used for: Minor adaptations to facilitate independent living.
Homeowners may be eligible for a forgivable loan for modifications to facilitate a physical disability, as well as for major repairs (i.e. structural, electrical), to a maximum of $20,000.
Parent Apartment Program
Who’s eligible: Caregivers looking to renovate their own home in order to accommodate a low-income senior (50 years or older) family member.
Benefit: Loan of up to $25,000 paid back over a maximum of 10 years.
What it can be used for: additions and extensions of existing houses.
In order to qualify, the new space must provide your charge with their own bedroom and easy access to a bathroom and kitchen.
Access A Home Program
Who’s eligible: Nova Scotia residents with an annual income of less than $39,000 and who are, or anticipate becoming, dependent on a wheelchair.
Benefit: Up to $5,000 to make your home wheelchair accessible.
What the money can be used for: Material, labor and tax associated with installing ramps, widening doorways or increasing the safety of the person limited to the wheelchair.
Home Adaptations for Seniors’ Independence
Who’s eligible: Low-income seniors, 65 years or older, who have difficulty with daily living.
Benefit: Up to $3,500 for minor repairs to make living independently easier.
What the money can be used for: Accessible storage and workspaces (pullout drawers, lever handles and pull-down cabinets in the kitchen, for example), handrails on stairways and through halls, replacing doorknobs with levers.
Disabled Residential Rehabilitation Assistance
Who’s eligible: Homeowners making their houses more accessible for people with disabilities.
Benefit: A forgivable loan up to $16,000.
What the money can be used for: Modifications that support the occupant’s disability—kitchen and bath retrofits, flooring, ramps, etc.
Prince Edward Island
Persons With Disabilities Home Renovation Program
Who’s eligible: Any disabled person needing repairs to their home as a result of their disability.
Benefit: A forgivable loan up to $16,000.
What the money can be used for: Modifications that help the homeowner work around their disability—widening doorways, installing ramps, lowering countertops, light switches, etc.
Seniors’ Home Repair Program
Who’s eligible: Homeowners with a net annual income of $35,000 or less, and who are 60 years or older.
Benefit: 50 percent of the costs of eligible repairs to a maximum of $1,500.
What the money can be used for: structurally necessary repairs to a principal residence, or those required for the “health and safety” of the occupant.
For details click here; 1-888-831-8880
Newfoundland and Labrador
Home Modification Program
Who’s eligible: Homeowners with an annual income of less than $46,500 and requiring accessibility modifications to their home.
Benefit: Up to $7,500, which doesn’t have to be repaid, as well as a repayable loan up to $10,000.
What it can be used for: Ramps, handrails, bathroom conversions, lowering of kitchen counters and more.
Home Repair Loans for Homeowners
Who’s eligible: Homeowners 65 years and older who struggle with daily activities of independent living (mobility, personal care, etc).
Benefit: low-interest loans, up to $35,000, to be paid back over a maximum of 12 years.
What it can be used for: Minor home adaptations to help with safety and independence.
For details click here; 1-867-633-7530
Jasmine Miller is the editor of Women of Influence and a writer based in Toronto, Canada.
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