Considering modifications to your home can be very expensive. You want every dollar to count! Fortunately, there are people that can help you work through the process. AARP worked alongside the National Association of Home Builders to come up with training and testing for a specialist called a Certified Aging in Place Specialist or CAPS. The course requires training, testing, and experience for someone to get the accreditation.
Another direction to turn might be an Occupational Therapist (OT). Taking this direction may make more sense if you have specific physical limitations to consider. For instance, if you are making changes due to Parkinson’s, and want to age in place for life, then consider the potential progression of the disease as you look at modifications. Planning for a wheelchair at the beginning of a project can eliminate the need to take on a second remodel down the road--potentially saving thousands of dollars. Like they said in grade school--doing it right the first time! The best of both worlds could be to connect with both a CAPS and OT specialist and have them work together to come up with the best plan.
Certified Aging in Place Specialist
What can a CAPS professional do?
- Recommend updates that will help a person live independently in his or her own home.
- Work with an OT to develop a home modification or build a plan based on the safety and functional needs of an individual or household.
- Collaborate with a licensed contractor or interior designer about building and design strategies and techniques for creating attractive, barrier-free living spaces.
- Provide information about building codes and standards, useful products and resources, and the costs and time required for common remodeling projects.
The CAPS professional will likely charge either an hourly rate for their work or build the cost into the project. Many CAPS professionals are contractors or part of a larger organization.
All OTs have training in basic home assessments, and some have additional training or certifications including Specialty Certification in Environmental Modifications (known as SCEM) through the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), the Executive Certificate in Home Modifications (ECHM), or the CAPS designation.
An Occupational Therapist can:
- Assess an individual’s abilities, challenges, and needs. (This is often done by asking questions, such as-- Do you have medical conditions that impact your daily life? What activities are painful or difficult for you to do?).
- Provide a home evaluation and recommend changes to increase safety and ease of use.
- Identify furnishings, equipment, and techniques that can help with activities
- Suggest and demonstrate techniques that can make essential activities possible or easier.
- Collaborate with a home improvement contractor to develop a modification or build a plan that will meet the needs of an individual or household.
The OT can also come back and demonstrate the proper use of installed equipment and make sure it’s functional for the particular disability it was installed for. Even for things as simple as grab bars, the proper placement and alignment can be the difference between dangerous and functional. Typically they will work with their client to watch them perform tasks that are difficult for them and then consider how that may progress in the future. All of this may not be fun to think about now but it can make life so much easier tomorrow.
Occupational therapists are generally paid a flat fee per visit and their services may be covered by health insurance. They can work with a CAPS professional or with a standard contractor you have selected. Make sure the contractor acknowledges the importance of working with the OT so that you can avoid those expensive “change orders”.
Fortunately, we have CAPS Professionals in Minnesota that you can contact. To find an Occupational Therapist, you can check with your doctor for a recommendation.
Here is a video from AARP that shows many of the enhancements and how they improve living for aging in place.
For additional information and resources on Aging in Place, check us out on the web!