Home Modification in a Longevity Economy – 1

Home Modification is but one significant business category in a Longevity Economy as it relates to Aging in Place, one that will likely become more robust as this decade unfolds, for we already know the ongoing, long told tale of aging demographics; and it will grow and evolve, thanks in no small measure to our increased awareness of how central our concept of home has become over the last year in the COVID world – as many have been Working & Living in Place more intently.

With this in mind, over the past two weeks I attended the virtual Caregiver Omnimedia 2021 Aging in Place Conference to understand better where the Home Modification industry is at, where it’s headed, and also to discover, in the process over the two conference days, the size, scope and segments of the market and who the cast of players were involved in this picture.  

Day-one kicked off with a presentation of a market research study produced by Vivintel (research arm of Vividata) for March of Dimes Canada in collaboration with Caregiver Omnimedia, in March 2021. This study did look broadly at a diverse audience across Canada from age 18 to 85 and covered the spectrum of reasons for aging/living in place, from people with disabilities to those with other health conditions, long or short term.  

For a brief synopsis on this you can click on Vivida’s Home Modification and Aging in Place. As a conference attendee I did get more of a detailed look at it from the discussion led by Pat A. Pellegrini of Vividata, but without getting into a statistical stream there were a few items in the commentary that were of note. Of those age 65-plus who plan to modify or adapt their homes, for 65 percent, the motivation is to avoid or delay admission to institutionalized Long-Term Care.

In addition, apart from closing the gaps in understanding of the perceptions of costs for home modifications versus the cost of moving to a Retirement or Long-Term Care Home, the most important awareness I gained from this study (and for that matter throughout the whole conference) was the importance of the role of an Occupational Therapist in the assessment and design of home modifications. That in itself is a major gap that needs to be filled in this process.

More in my post next week, in a discussion around the role of design in home modification, but for now I want to thank Margot McWhirter, Aging-in-Place & Accessibility Consultant at Inclusive Aging for tipping me off about this conference which had slipped under my radar.

Plus as a follow up, read the 2017 Re-shaping the Housing Market for Aging in Place and Home Modification co-authored by Sue Lantz and Don Fenn. This is a great primer for those who are beginning to think more about their own aging/living in place, which is written with great clarity and in consultation with some of the best minds in this space in Canada.

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