It’s inevitable. We’re all aging. We do what we can to combat it, maybe even deny it, but time passes none the less. For many of us, it happens gradually, and at some point we are struck with the reality that we can’t do what we could ten or twenty years ago. For others, a life changing event like a fall or an illness forces an abrupt change, almost overnight. We listen to our doctors, go to therapy, eat right and exercise, but we just don’t bounce back like we used to. Our bodies are changing, often bringing on new challenges.But challenges don’t necessarily have to become obstacles if we use them to reassess and come to terms with our aging selves. If you’re like most of us, you want to continue living in your home as you age. Your home is an extension of your identity. It’s where you feel safe and comfortable. It holds years of memories, and serves as the center of your social network and your connection to your community. Over the years, you undoubtedly changed your home as your needs changed. Maybe you baby-proofed your house to keep active toddlers safe, perhaps you added an addition or repurposed a room to accommodate a growing family or changing interests, or maybe you even reclaimed space for yourselves as your last child left for college. Aging-in-place preparations are no different. If you’re an adult child, you may be concerned as you watch your parents growing older. There may be signs they are slowing down or not managing their day to day living like they used to. Will they fall when they get up to use the bathroom at night? Are the stairs getting too difficult? Are they becoming isolated because its too much effort to go out? Or does your home present too many barriers for them to come visit? Whether for yourself, or your aging parents, the best time to make changes to your home is now, before you need them. With thoughtful preparation, you can keep your home the center of your safe and familiar world. But, where should you start? Luckily, there are trained professionals available to help you navigate aging successfully, also known as Certified Aging-In-Place Specialists (CAPS). CAPS providers are Building Professionals, Designers, and Healthcare Professionals certified by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and AARP. They are trained to address the needs of an aging population through home modifications. After a comprehensive room-by-room assessment of your home and surrounding grounds, CAPS providers will help you develop a plan customized to your environment and your needs, that blends design flawlessly, without looking institutional. How do Aging-in-Place renovations work? Modifications are based on principles of Universal Design, for use by people of all ages and abilities. Renovations can also be tailored to meet specific individual needs. For the best results, you will work with two main contacts: your CAPS Building Professional and your CAPS Healthcare Provider (e.g. an Occupational or Physical Therapist). Your CAPS Building Professional draws and implements the home modification plans from the construction standpoint. Your CAPS Healthcare Provider can weigh the benefits of one type of modification over another, after a functional analysis, in order to best match your physical ability and accommodate for any specific limitations. Your team will also draw on their expertise to keep your home from becoming your barrier, based on your unique needs. For example, a ramp may eliminate the stairs and be the best option for a wheelchair user, but maybe not for someone with severe respiratory problems who struggles for breath when walking the extra distance. A person with a respiratory issue might be better served by a lift. For someone with two knee replacements and limited range of motion, if a ramp is not an option, railings on both sides of the entry steps can be helpful, but half-steps with a large enough tread to accommodate a walker may be better. The exceptions go on and on, but one fact holds true, accommodations for people based on their specific health needs are an essential part of a well thought out design plan. A CAPS provider is different from a traditional contractor. CAPS providers can save you money in the long run by anticipating your future needs, incorporating function with safety, and providing options that often remain inconspicuous to others. They are also trained to find the best solutions that not only work for you now, but in the years to come, as your ability changes or illnesses progress. You or your loved ones may not need grab bars in the bathroom today, but a CAPS provider has the foresight to build blocking into the wall during a bathroom remodel. That way, grab bars can be easily added, should the need arise later. And a CAPS provider knows that while replacing the tub with a step-in shower stall may be sufficient, installing a curbless (roll-in) shower will give you a luxurious spa feel and eliminate possible future barriers altogether. A CAPS provider can make sure you consider at least one zero-barrier entry into the home as a gift to your future self. In the meantime, grandparents and mothers pushing strollers will both appreciate the well planned entry when they come visit. An open floor plan, with a first floor bedroom and bathroom, can make you and your older guests comfortable now, while making it easier should anyone in your home ever need enough space to use a walker or wheelchair. We need our homes to match our abilities and accommodate our limitations. The collaboration between you as a homeowner, your CAPS Building Professional, and your CAPS Healthcare Provider helps match your abilities today and anticipate your physical challenges tomorrow. Through home modifications, CAPS help to ensure your safety, independence, and quality of life. With a strong connection between our health and the environment in which we live, it has never been more important to make sure our homes do not create barriers to our daily living. CAPS offers an alternative to assisted living or other unthinkable options, and empowers seniors to age-in-place successfully. Aging in place requires sensible planning and forethought. As with most things, it’s best done early to prevent problems in the future. However, even when urgent issues arise that force us to action, knowing when to call the professionals can make the difference in maintaining your independence, your safety, and your home. Original Medium.com Article
What is a Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist and Why Do I Need One?
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