03/29/2015 08:00 EDT | Updated 05/29/2015 05:59 EDT

Senior-friendly homes require changes: reno expert

Many Canadians would like to stay in their homes as they age, but most homes aren't built to be senior-friendly, says renovation columnist Jorge Rodrigues.

"Certainly [there are] bathrooms that are too small, doorways that are too narrow, and simple things even, like door knobs instead of levers — if a person's got arthritis, it's really difficult to do that," Rodrigues told North By Northwest's Sheryl MacKay.

Rodrigues says tall, boxy homes may be too difficult to retrofit, but bungalows lend themselves well to renovation. Here are some of his suggestions on how to make a home more senior-friendly.

Keep the number of steps to a minimum

"If you can have as level as possible an entryway, the better," he said. "If it's not possible, you can do something with a ramp … or you can accommodate some sort of a lift that can take people up and down."

Opt for a wide front door

"Everybody thinks [of it] in terms of moving furniture, but when you have someone in a wheelchair, it's nice to be able to get into the door nicely," he said.

Invest in technology

"[For] light switches that are down low, it doesn't necessarily mean you have to move your switches down," he said. "The technology is out there. They can all be set with sensors. Thermostats are the same thing."

To hear the full interview with Jorge Rodrigues, listen to the audio labelled: How to make your home adapt to your needs