Chances are when you picture your retirement you envision yourself living independently in the comfort of your home. Indeed, Statistics Canada reports over 92% of Canadian seniors live in private dwellings.

But your home can be a dangerous place. The Public Health Agency of Canada reports that nearly half of all injuries among Canadians aged 65 and over occur at home – most the result of a fall. And nothing can derail your independence faster than a bad fall.

There are 5 easy steps you can take, however, to improve the safety of your home and reduce the likelihood of a slip-and-fall accident:

  1. Upgrade your bathroom: Most falls at home occur in the bathroom. Slippery tubs and tiles make for a dangerous combination. Installing grab-bars and large, anti-slip shower and bath mats can help. More substantial upgrades include replacing slippery tiles with non-slip flooring and converting a step-in tub into an easier access, walk-in shower stall.
  2. Install handrails on stairs: Stairs are the second most dangerous area of the home – both indoors and out – with the majority of stairway falls caused by a loss of balance. So, check all staircases in your home and make sure you have securely anchored hand rails. 
  3. Avoid throw rugs: While double-sided tape can be used to help hold throw rugs in place, a better alternative is to remove them altogether. Low-pile, wall-to-wall carpeting is a much safer alternative. Also, never place throw rugs on top of other carpeting. It can cause their edges to curl and turn them into a tripping hazard.
  4. Secure your walkway: Loose or misaligned stone walkways contribute to outdoor falls, particularly during the winter months when ice can build up in their crevices and hinder snow removal. Re-lay wonky pavers or fill and smooth gaps with cement. 
  5. Store items within easy reach: Climbing onto chairs or ladders is the cause of some of the most serious home accidents. Keep commonly used items within easy reach and rearrange your cupboards to avoid having to use top shelves.  

Home accessibility tax breaks and insurance coverage

If you’re age 65+ or able to claim the Disability Tax Credit, you’re eligible to claim the Home Accessibility Tax Credit. Available for the 2016 and subsequent tax years, it applies to your total qualifying expenses up to $10,000 per year, resulting in a maximum non-refundable tax credit of $1,500 ($10,000 x 15%).

You can also protect yourself from the potential cost of future necessary home mobility upgrades with Care at Home Insurance. Designed for those aged 50+, it can help cover the cost of certain in-home healthcare and home conversion expenses you may need to stay safely in the comfort of your own home as you get older and experience declining health, reduced mobility, an illness or accident.