Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS)nahb.org

The Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) designation program teaches the technical, business management, and customer service skills essential to competing in the fastest growing segment of the residential remodeling industry: home modifications for the aging-in-place.

The baby boom generation has many choices as this large population of potential clients for remodelers, builders, contractors and occupational therapists considers where to live – but overwhelmingly, seniors would prefer to stay in their own homes. The CAPS designation offers your potential clients what they need most: reassurance that you’ll help them make the choices that will help them stay in their homes safely and securely.

In addition, the CAPS designation helps you make your clients’ homes more “visitable.” Even if the home owners don’t think they need additional task lighting, grab bars, and other home modifications for their own use, their family members and visitors might. CAPS helps you help your clients make the right choices, and it gives you more security in remodeling market niche that’s continuing to grow in popularity.

Learn More About CAPS

Remember the day you fell in love with your home? You thought about a kitchen to match your culinary prowess, a family room filled with kids for family movie night, a bathroom to pamper yourself and a great room to celebrate friendships. But what about that awkward turn into the walk-in closet? Those two steps leading out to the deck? We might think about how much we’ll love our spouse “when I’m 64,” but what about your home when you’re 64?

“It’s human nature to think about today,” says Chris Stebnitz, “even when picking out a long-term relationship, like our home. We don’t think about how arthritis might make climbing the basement steps difficult, or grasping door and cabinet handles impossible; how reduced mobility might require a walker or wheelchair; how waning strength may make toting laundry from the basement to the second floor an exhausting and even dangerous chore.”

But at some point, we all get older, and our physical abilities change. Unfortunately, our home doesn’t change along with us. It was the request to remodel a home for an aging client that motivated Chris to explore how homes can be modified with simple or complex changes to ensure that owners can be home–for good. That’s when Chris became a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) with the training and testing offered through the National Association of Home Builders in 2005. The training requires continuing education because of ongoing research regarding the physical, emotional and mental needs of an aging population. This leads to more knowledge about successful ways to adapt homes for people to age in place.

Remodeling for adaptability is as much about sensitivity to a client’s needs as it is about exemplary design and construction, according to Chris. “Often, we are requested to make changes for an older adult; someone who is not only working to adjust to his or her own physical limitations but may also be experiencing tremendous changes in all areas of life.”

If you’re still in love with your home–whether you’re 64 or not–Chris recommends that everyone think 10 or 30 years out and take the opportunities to make little changes that will ensure that it won’t be simple aging that forces you to move. “As you remodel–one room at a time or a whole house–think about the following features:”

 

  • Replace doorknobs with lever handles.
  • Replace cabinet and drawer knobs with pulls.
  • Install electrical outlets higher up the wall.
  • With flooring changes, ask for smooth transitions and low-pile carpet to prevent tripping accidents.
  • Understand your comfort level for countertop heights. This can change as your abilities change.
  • Avoid extra steps by installing new doors on grade, or level with the garage or sidewalk.
  • Be generous with light fixtures. Choose a style that’s easy to turn on and off and controllable to turn up the brightness, and install them also in dark places like hallways and closets, so you can see travel paths.
  • Put the laundry where you store your clothes, even if it’s on the first or second floor.
  • Widen doorways and hallways; use 36″ doors if you have room.
  • During bathroom remodeling, install bath, shower and toilet grab bars. Don’t accept a “standard” placement; practice how you would reach for assistance, and have the bars placed appropriately.
  • Install new casement windows because they are easier to operate than double-hung windows.

 

Remember, these features do not make your house institutional or reduce its value. Adaptable can be just as beautiful as it is functional.