If you are like the majority of Americans over the age of 45, you want to continue living in a familiar environment throughout your maturing years. According to AARP, older home owners overwhelmingly (greater than 80%) prefer to age-in-place, which means living in your home safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of age or ability level.
A significant concern as people grow older is that they may have to leave their home. This would mean leaving behind a comfortable setting familiar community and many memories. In addition a certain amount of control is lost when one leaves home. This "control" provides the underpinning to our feelings of dignity, quality of life and independence. One's home is a strong element in that sense of security.
There exist many risks for injury to older adults in the common household, therefore impacting upon their capability to successfully age in place. Among the greatest threats to an ability to age in place is falling. According to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of injurious death among older adults. Therefore, engagement in fall prevention is crucial to one’s ability to age in place. Common features in an everyday household, such as a lack of support in the shower or bathroom, inadequate railings on the stairs, loose throw rugs, and obstructed pathways are all possible dangers to an older person. However, simple and low-cost modifications to an older person’s home can greatly decrease the risk of falling, as well as decreasing the risk of other forms of injury. Consequently, this increases the likelihood that one can age in place.
Some examples of home modifications include: increased lighting, accessible switches at both ends of the stairs, additional railings, grab bars, nonskid flooring, a hand-held, flexible shower head, walk-in tubs, and the removal of throw rugs and clutter. In most cases, home modifications can be simple and cost-effective, while simultaneously offering substantial benefits to the individual. Other modifications to the home – especially those that require retrofitting – are a little more costly due to increased complexity of installation. These can include: ramps for accessible entry and exit, walk-in shower, sliding shelves, stair lifts, or even home elevators. Many homes are built or retrofitted with the Universal design model in mind, which makes everything in the home accessible to all people with or without functional limitations.
In an effort to meet the needs of the public, the National Association of Home Builders & Remodelers (NAHB) developed a specialized training program to address these concerns and needs.
A Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist is trained in the unique needs of the older adult population; aging-in-place home modifications; common remodeling projects; and solutions to common barriers. CAPS professionals have also been taught the strategies and techniques for designing and building aesthetically pleasing, barrier-free environments. These professionals pledge to uphold a code of ethics and are required to maintain their designation by attending continuing education programs.
Both Steve and his wife, Ellen, have completed the CAPS training. Steve has 36 years of experience in the building industry. Ellen has 25 years of experience as an Occupational Therapist and is highly trained in adaptions/modifications needed to meet an individual’s physical, mental, or emotional challenges. Together, they can provide resources to the homeowner not found in most remodeling companies.