Ageing In Place, Competence and The Law
Canadians are getting older and older, with many reaching the age of 100, and are increasingly concerned with maintaining their independence. This is the view of the Canadian government, who have also noted the level of planning and legal steps needed as life progresses. For families, a relative ageing in place can be simple; as medical diagnoses become more frequent, it can be a challenge legally and logistically.
Basic law and competency
Ageing in place has a lot to do with competency, or capacity, and this isn’t necessarily reduced by age. The competency of an older person to complete their daily tasks is often helped through the use of technology; tech tools and aids can help senior citizens to stay independent throughout later life. Legally, competence is not by default reduced by age, and according to the Canadian Bar Association, is always held from adulthood onwards. As a result, all senior citizens are, by default, competent and capable, for obvious reasons. Older age is not by itself a reason for diminished capability.
How the law helps
Legislation has played an effective role in helping to break down barriers and make ageing in place reasonable for all Canadians. Of most importance is the legislation implemented by the Canadian government that guarantees access in public physical environments and in new building of homes within certain areas. As a result, any physical barriers to the ability of a senior citizen to be able to operate in their home area can be effectively challenged by your family and representatives if its creating a harmful barrier to a relative’s independence.
Power of attorney is another useful function that can be applied with older relatives to help their independence. Joint control over their bank accounts can help to protect against fraud, and aid with the day-to-day running of their affairs. There are also legal protections in place to ensure that accounts are not operated in a malicious fashion or by an inappropriate party. Liaise with legal professionals to ensure the account is set up in a way that is conducive to the well-being of your loved one.
Ageing in place is the ultimate form of independence for many senior citizens, and in Canada, the law helps to make this an easier process. Through legislation, public places are conducive to access, competency is enshrined and aided even in senior years, and there are tools to help families aid independence.
Written for Verhaeghe Law Office by Cassandra Tilbury
*Please note the content of this blog offers a general overview and does not constitute legal advice as every case is unique from one another. We encourage you to seek independent legal advice for any matter that concerns you.