Aging in place is the ability for someone to continue to live in their home as they age no matter what their income or ability level is. Most adults would rather age in place than move to another home which could possibly be an institution for the aged. Moving to an institution puts a big financial strain on Medicare and Medicaid that could be reduced if more people age in place. There are professionals who are Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists (CAPS) who know the technical and business management as well as the service skills required for home modification for aging in place.
Different Categories of Aging in Place
The different categories of aging in place include urgent needs, progressive conditions and no urgent needs.
- Urgent needs require immediate changes in the living environment such as universal design or home modifications.
- Progressive conditions are conditions that are not urgent but will become manifest in the future. They include heart or lung disease or diabetes that may cause difficulty in living at a later stage in life.
- No urgent need includes people who do not have any health or mobility issues and prefer to remain in their homes.
What are the Home Modifications needed for Aging in Place?
Homes need to be modified to include conveniences that make everyday living easier for aged people. Falling is one of the most common injuries for aged people and can even cause death. Preventing falls is crucial for a person who would like to age in place. This means support in the bathroom and shower, railings on stairs, no loose throw rugs or obstructed pathways.
Increased lighting and easily accessible switches, nonskid flooring, ramps and sliding shelves are other things that make a home safer. These changes are not expensive and relatively minor. There may be other, more drastic changes that need to be done in some cases such as the installation of a private elevator, adjusting counter top heights and constructing new first floor master suites.
How to Become a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist?
The CAPS training program was created by the Remodelers™ Council of the National Association of Home Builders, in together with the NAHB Research Center, Seniors Housing Council and the Association of the Aging and Retired People. The training includes learning about:
- The needs of older people
- Specific home modifications that support independent living
- The most common types of remodeling required
- The most common obstacles and their solutions
The program also teaches how to make the remodeling aesthetically pleasing as well as obstacle-free for a safe living environment.
How to find Training for CAPS?
There are several places online where candidates can find CAPS training programs including the NAHB website and the AARP website. The program is three days and addresses the technical needs for this specific market as well as the communication skills needed to give the best possible modifications for the customer.
The program also teaches how to market aging in place to increase the number of people who select this option. Many older people may not be aware that there is help available for them to make their homes livable for when they become older and have special needs. Children of aging parents may also not be aware of this option.
After the training program is completed, participants must complete the graduation application and submit it to the NAHB University of Housing. CAPS graduates are not merely home remodelers. They offer a service to the public and take a pledge to uphold a code of ethics. They may retain their certificate only by joining continuing educational programs and participating in community service.