What is a CAPS Professional?

May 21, 2021

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures and AARP Public Policy Institute90 percent of people over age 65 hope to stay in their current homes for as long as possible. Around 80 percent of this elderly population believe their current residence is where they will live for the rest of their lives.

This is where certified aging-in-place specialists or CAPS professionals come into play. 

What is Aging-in-Place? 

Elderly couple at home

As the aging population continues to grow, more and more older adults want to avoid transitioning to an assisted living facility. It’s hard enough to leave the comfort and familiarity of the home you’ve loved for years, but the psychological impact of leaving your community and losing your privacy can be even more difficult. That’s why many older adults are turning to aging-in-place as an alternative. 

Aging-in-place is the process of adjusting home life in order for an older adult to live independently and safely for as long as possible. This takes an all-encompassing look at what that individual needs assistance with today and anticipating what they will need assistance with in the future. 

Every aging-in-place plan will look different. Some will involve home healthcare, others will factor in assistance with everyday tasks such as grocery shopping, cooking, and personal care. Many individuals will look to modify their home or build a new home so they can continue to live there comfortably regardless of their age or ability level. 

Opting to adjust a home for aging-in-place can actually be cheaper than moving into an assisted living facility. It can cost an average of $48,000 per year for assisted living in the United States. On the other hand, simple home modifications such as installing safety bars or widening doorways might total out to a one-time payment of about $6,000 to $8,000

When an older adult decides they would rather modify their home for age-in-place, the next step is to get in touch with a CAPS professional. 

What Does a CAPS Professional Do?

CAPS professionals at work

A CAPS professional is accredited by the National Association of Home Builders in collaboration with the AARP. The goal is to teach builders the technical and construction elements necessary to help older adults transition to safe independent living. The program also seeks to educate its participants in best business practices while working with this demographic. CAPS professionals must maintain their credentials through continued training and adherence to a Code of Ethics.  

When you see that a company carries CAPS credentials, you can count on them to build or modify a home that will continue to be livable for older adults through current and future circumstances, to the best of their knowledge. They utilize universal design techniques to create secure homes that allow for custom-fit solutions to increase mobility and overall independence for aging adults.

You’ll need to inform them of the elderly person’s possible disabilities and future potential health risks so they can properly create a safe environment for living.

How Do You Prepare a Home for Aging-in-Place?

CAPS modified bathroom

Every individual will have different needs when it comes to preparing their home for aging-in-place. The specifics and scope of their remodel plan will depend on their abilities and medical limitations. Generally, CAPS professionals will seek to create a barrier-free, low maintenance dwelling that is safer to move about independently. They will aim to make it a functional space without compromising on aesthetic appeal and elegance. 

Here are a few facets of a home designed for aging-in-place

Entering and Exiting Home 

Builders will make the path in and out of the home easier to navigate. This can include installing additional handrails or ramps. They might also add outdoor lighting to increase visibility. Dulled lighting is one of the most common causes of falls for elderly persons. That and bathroom falls.

Accessible Kitchen

When remodeling or designing the kitchen, builders will aim to make meal preparation and eating easier. This can look really different from situation to situation. A kitchen adjusted for independent living might include a lower, side-opening oven or lever-handle sink faucets. There are a variety of changes that can be made in the kitchen such as lowering the cabinetry. 

Safer Bathroom 

A huge aspect of bathroom safety is making it easier to enter and exit the shower. This might include a ramped entrance or handlebars. Bathroom redesigns might also include widened entry doors, a built-in shower seat, and temperature-balanced shower valves. A main piece is ensuring that the shower and bathtub are slip-resistant to the highest extent possible. This could be choosing new flooring or adding non-slip mats.

Mobility Throughout the Home  

As we mentioned before, the overarching goal with aging-in-place home design is safety and independence. A huge part of that is making a barrier-free environment aging adults can easily navigate. This might look like better lighting, lever handles on doors and windows, stairlifts, and wider doors throughout the home.

How to Hire a CAPS Professional 

You can easily look for a CAPS professional by doing a quick search on the National Association of Home Builder’s Designations directory. You can search by location or by the name of the certified builder. This is a wonderful place to start when searching for a CAPS for yourself or a loved one.

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