What other government assistance is there for seniors?
A couple blog posts back, we talked about federal government retirement benefits – like the Guaranteed Income Supplement and Old Age Pension – available to seniors 65 and over. Now, we’ll go a step further and cover several examples of government grants, programs and assistance seniors can access.
First off, let’s look at how government benefits can help you live independently – and in your own home. The Federal Government, through the Canada Mortage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), offers the Home Application for Seniors’ Independence (HASI) program. This provides financial assistance for minor home accessibility modifications, like bathroom railings or wider doorframes for wheelchairs, that can help low-income seniors go about their daily activities more safely within their home. Eligible seniors can receive up to $3,500 as a “forgivable loan.” So, if you’re a homeowner, the loan will be completely forgiven if you live in your home for at least six months after the modifications and adaptions have been made.
Depending on where you live in Canada, you may also want to research provincial home adaptation grants and tax credits. For example, British Columbia provides grants up to $17,500 to eligible seniors through their Home Adaptations for Independence program. Alberta, meanwhile, offers low-interest home equity loans that cover a wide range of home adaptations and renovations through their Seniors Home Adaptation and Repair Program. Of course, these programs can vary by province, though the overall idea behind them is the same.
How can seniors get help around the home?
Aside from subsidizing improvements and renovations, can low income seniors or seniors living with disabilities get help with other daily activities like house cleaning? The answer is yes – definitely. Depending on your province, community programs administered by not-for-profit, government-funded organizations can provide senior care that’s generally far more affordable than private care. For example, the Ontario Community Support Association is a network of not-for-profit, community-based organization that provides a full range of affordable services, including housekeeping, cooking, meal delivery, transportation and more.
How do you qualify for these senior services? Make sure first that you’re eligible. Generally speaking, most senior programs demand that you be above a certain age (usually 65 and older), among other requirements. You (or your loved ones) may even need to fill out and send in an application to be eligible. However, if you’re a senior living with a limited income or with a disability, it’s well worth doing your homework and filling out the paperwork so that your long-term needs can be met affordably.