Seniors want to stay in own homes
by Sharon Gray
From left: Dr. Patrick Parfrey, nurse co-ordinator Jackie McDonald (Memorial University site) and Dr. Don Shiner. (Photo by HSIMS)
Imagine barring off most of your house in the winter and living in the few rooms you could afford to heat. This rather bleak picture was one of the scenarios put forward by the principal investigator of a comprehensive survey done by the Atlantic Seniors Housing Research Alliance (ASHRA).
The Seniors’ Housing and Support Services Survey, released in St. John’s Nov. 8, found that the majority of the 1,702 respondents (53 per cent) have lived over 35 years in the same place with many reporting no immediate plans to move. One in five reported spending 40 per cent or more of their income on their dwelling, putting them at risk of not being able to meet all necessary expenses. As well, many revealed safety concerns and the need for modifications to their current dwelling.
Dr. Don Shiner, associate professor at Mount Saint Vincent University, is heading up research on seniors’ housing needs in Atlantic Canada. At Memorial University, the research is being conducted by Dr. Patrick Parfrey, associate dean for clinical research (medicine), and research nurse co-ordinator Jackie McDonald.
“Complex factors such as independence, affordability, suitability, health, transportation, and of course, the attachment one develops to their home over time, are all at play when our seniors are considering their current housing circumstances,” said Dr. Shiner. “While most seniors feel their current dwelling meets their needs, they also identified problems such as windows needing replacement and problems with entrance areas such as icy front steps.”
Dr. Parfrey said the problem is particularly acute in Newfoundland and Labrador, which has the region’s most rapidly growing elderly population and the lowest income. “The research being done by ASHRA will bring about increased awareness and understanding of what the region can do to ensure accessible seniors’ housing and services into the future.”
The survey was conducted as the second phase of a five-year, four-part research project titled Projecting the Housing Needs of Atlantic Canadians. The research will result in policy recommendations that will be used to assist government decision makers, housing developers and community organizations in designing and planning for seniors’ housing needs over the next 20 years.
Funding for the project comes from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Community-University Research Alliance (CURA), the government of Nova Scotia, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Dalhousie University, the University of Prince Edward Island, Memorial University of Newfoundland, the University of New Brunswick and Mount Saint Vincent University.