Making informed decisions about housing

Making decisions that affect your well-being can be challenging. Housing is one of those complex decisions because there are multiple options to explore, and older adults, their families and caregivers must weigh the pros and cons of each. A recent systematic review found that there are over 80 factors that influence housing decisions for older adults.(1) Age, health status, access to adequate  care and services, comfort  and safety are  all important factors that must be considered.

Evaluating whether to age in place (at home) or make the move to a retirement home or long-term care facility can be a delicate and complex decision. A holistic approach that considers the full range of needs, values and preferences of older adults is required. Older adults who have cognitive and functional limitations and whose homes are not adapted to their needs may consider moving to an assisted-living facility or nursing home. For those who are able to stay at home, home modifications make it possible to do so for as long as possible, in securely and independently.

When making a decision about where to live, older adults should be formally engaged in the decision-making process. A 2018 survey revealed that when it comes to major life choices, only 35% of those surveyed  played an active role and were asked what mattered to them.(2) There are a few ways older adults can ensure they have a say in life choices, such as where they live. There are tools and supports that can help evaluate and inform using the best available evidence. Through a collaborative process like shared decision making, older adults, their families and health and social care providers can decide on the best option together.

If you are considering making a move or are helping a loved one decide what housing options are right for them, read through our helpful resources below to inform the process.


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Author Details


1.    Roy N, Dubé R, Despres C, Freitas A, Légaré F. Choosing between staying at home or moving: A systematic review of factors influencing housing decisions among frail older adultsPLoS One 2018; 13(1): e0189266.

2.    Haesebaert J, Adekpedjou R, Croteau J, Robitaille H, Légaré F. Shared decision-making experienced by Canadians facing health care decisions: A Web-based survey. CMAJ Open 2019; 7(2): E210-e6.

DISCLAIMER: Many of our Blog Posts were written before the COVID-19 pandemic and thus do not necessarily reflect the latest public health recommendations. While the content of these blogs identify activities that support optimal aging, it is important to defer to the most current public health recommendations such as social distancing and frequent hand washing. Some of the activities suggested within these blogs may need to be modified or avoided altogether to comply with current social distancing recommendations. To view the latest updates from the Public Health Agency of Canada, please visit their website