What is an Certified Aging in Place Specialist?

Aging in Place is becoming a common discussion among baby boomers and those who work with this population.  According to the CDC, "Aging in Place is the ability to live in ones' own home and community safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level."  A recent study, as noted by the National Aging in Place Council (NAIPC), also reports that "90% of people want to stay in their homes." This trend of Aging in Place will most certainly continue as the baby boomers are preparing for retirement. There are several professionals that may assist in this process of Aging in Place such as a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS)  as designated by the National Association of Home Builders. These Specialists may include Contractors, Designers or Occupational Therapists.

As an Occupational therapist and Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS),  this concept of Aging in Place is an all too familiar one. Most of my clients want to stay home and age in place even after significant changes to their health or their loved one's health.  Their home holds many memories, not to mention a financial investment, and they may have a hard time with the concept of moving or letting go.  The idea of leaving their home and nearby friends, beginning new routines, finding new medical professionals, or even a new grocery store or pharmacy can seem overwhelming. Many people are consulting with professionals to modify or update their current home to assist with their goal of aging in place.  

Through a home consult, a CAPS professional may support this process as they provide comprehensive solutions for you to stay in your home with increased independence and stability.  An Aging in Place Specialist may begin with simple questions for your consideration:

1.  Is your home on one floor plan and step free?

2.  Are your doorways wide enough to allow a walker or wheelchair?

3.  Do you have a zero (floor) entry shower and grab bars for stability?

4. Good lighting throughout home?

5. Is your home clutter free and are items easily accessible?

Once you have identified your rooms of concern, further addressing these concerns with your local Aging in Place Specialist will allow the opportunity to begin creating solutions for the desired space. I have found that early home preparation is key for minimizing the stress that exists when those unexpected health concerns occur.  Allowing yourself the time to address these necessary home changes is much easier from the comfort of your home than from within a hospital room- which happens to be the case for some of my clients. In the articles to follow we will address considerations for individual room modifications and basic home safety recommendations to further promote your Aging in Place