How To Find & Choose an Aging In Place Specialist

Nichole Lindemier

/

October 25, 2021

General Retirement
How To Find & Choose an Aging In Place Specialist | Retire Fearless

Looking into Aging in Place, but don’t know where to start? Follow these guidelines to help you find a qualified specialist near you.

How to find and choose an Aging in Place specialist starts with identifying your home needs. If you require extensive home modifications, in depth medical oversight and in-home services arranged, finding a certified Aging in Place specialist is essential to protecting your right to age in your home.

Aging in Place is becoming a more popular choice for retirees who are looking to maximize their life savings and comfort by remaining within their homes as their care needs advance. Utilization of specialty programs within Medicare and Medicaid often provide the means, along with personal savings, pensions and social security benefits, for elders to be provided with the in-home services needed to maintain a safe home environment while aging in place.

Knowing the particular ins and outs that Aging in Place requires is especially important when finding an Aging in Place specialist. There are certified specialists that have learned these details and can enter your home and quickly identify physical changes and overall budgetary considerations for you so that you can quickly and properly create a safe environment with which to age in place. These specialists often have medical training and backgrounds in specific areas that allow them to be the most proficient at identifying care needs at a glance and assisting you with knowing just what you’ll need to maintain safety while aging at home.

Aging in Place specialists undergo a variety of training and have different backgrounds suited to helping seniors with their medical and financial planning. We will detail what these backgrounds look like and what training is undertaken by those seeking an Aging in Place specialist certification so that you know the specific sort of people who choose to assist in the arena. Knowing what key areas to expect expert knowledge from your specialist will be an important aspect of knowing who the right specialist is for you.

As a rehabilitation nurse and a nurse who has worked with the elderly population for over a decade, I have intimate knowledge of Aging in Place modifications being implemented on a regular basis. I have distinct insight into the budgetary concerns of the elderly when it comes to making the most of retirement, and a depth of information to pull from when it comes to ensuring quality healthcare is being provided within the home. Allow me to assist you with identifying the most important aspect of an Aging in Place specialist so that you can choose the absolute best fit for your personal in-home needs.

How To Find & Choose an Aging In Place Specialist
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Aging in Place Specialists

Specialists in the field of Aging in Place come with a variety of expectations attached to their profession. A properly certified Aging in Place specialist will have completed training courses and attained professional recognition for their specialist status. While not every Aging in Place specialist needs to be certified, the certification does provide additional peace of mind and assurance that the specialist you are considering has undergone formal training on these matters.

Training

Proper Aging in Place specialists often come from a background where home modification and healthcare oversight for the elderly is commonplace. Nurse case managers who oversee arrangement of in-home services for elderly clients often seek certification in Aging in Place as their knowledge base is uniquely qualified for this area of care.

Occupational Therapists are also particularly drawn to Aging in Place specialization due to the nature of their work. As specialists in optimizing your daily activities and modifications to your daily routine to help fit your current abilities, Occupational Therapists have an extensive knowledge base to pull from when it comes to applying themselves to the task of home modification and basic healthcare arrangements.
Occupational Therapists and Nurse Case Managers are both equally capable at undergoing certification to become an Aging in Place specialist. Once these professionals have determined to become certified in the field, they undergo specific training in particular areas of need for Aging in Place requirements- they learn the management skills to help manage your financial interests to get the most services in place for your dollar. They learn the ins and outs of residential remodeling so that home modifications are done in a timely and cost-efficient manner while providing you with the alterations inside of your home that you’ll need to maintain your safety.

There are some business people and home builders who also undergo the training to become a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS). These people know the ins and outs of the building trade and often have insight into the most beneficial modifications into your home that you can make. They also are people who have a beat on the latest improvements and available upgrades to your homes, and can often find the latest trends in modifications for the aging. Bear in mind that CAPS with these backgrounds are not medical and have no official medical training, and are only capable of enacting the recommendations of healthcare professionals once they’ve been made.

Certification

The certification process for CAPS is not lengthy. Professionals from a variety of backgrounds mentioned above undergo classes to become specialized in the aging in place community. There are courses in marketing to the aging population, course work in building design with the aging in place community in mind, and business management courses for building professionals. These courses are important towards certification as they build upon the background of the CAPS candidate and further enrich their abilities to market and research the best options for your home.

CAPS candidates from healthcare backgrounds are the best suited for this area of certification in my opinion. Building professionals and business professionals are already versed in marketing and building code details, so the CAPS curriculum may seem redundant to their training and not bring them much more information than they already held pre-certification. The benefit of this certification for those with a healthcare background however is very important.

The occupational therapist or nurse case manager will already have the necessary background training to know what modifications will best suit the aging in place population, and with the additional coursework the CAPS certification provides them, will allow them to network and find the most up to date resources to enact those recommendations. Additionally, each of these professionals are required to maintain continuing education credits, so that they can stay up to date on the emerging trends in the aging in place field.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) is the organization that maintains, organizes and provides education for those who wish to become CAPS certified professionals. This organization undertakes this process to ensure that as the population ages, there are qualified professionals available to help them make the decision to remain in their homes, if that is their wish. If a home was not built with the aging population in mind, the NAHB ensures that CAPS professionals are ready and armed with the knowledge base needed to make the home liveable for the aging client throughout the lifespan.

The NAHB designed the CAPS certification to educate professionals of many backgrounds on very particular topics. They educate their professionals beyond basic design concepts. Their training goes in depth into cost analysis of common remodeling designs to help fit their upgrade model within the budget you have available for the project while fitting your accessibility needs into the budget as well. They discuss common accessibility issues seen with the aging population and educate on the most beneficial solutions to those problems.

The NAHB also educates their CAPS certified professionals on the numerous building codes that aging in place homes need to adhere to. This particular area of emphasis is one of the most important parts to your aging in place home upgrade. There are plenty of ways to make a home more accessible, but they must meet code standards in order to be accepted for funding sources. As Medicare and Medicaid are programs that both provide funding into home remodeling for aging in place, adherence to these codes is requisite to achieve payout for the modifications provided.

The NAHB notes that many CAPS trained professionals continue their education into the Aging in Place arena through further coursework and training. Whether the CAPS professional has a background in occupational therapy, home building, nursing or home care, a hallmark sign of these individuals is a drive to help the aging population maintain their independence to the best of their ability. The additional coursework the NAHB notes these professionals often undergo include classes in design, home safety and home care components that allow their clients to obtain the best products and services to maintain their home projects.

Modifications To Expect

CAPS professionals are the go-to professionals for recommended home modifications. While these modifications are always specialized to your unique needs, there are some expected modifications in any CAPS professional’s arsenal that you can expect them to recommend to you. Knowing these basics is an important aspect of the CAPS requirements, and you can judge the merit of a potential specialist by their recommendations in these areas.

Flooring

One fundamental aspect of upgrading a home to accommodate the aging population is non-slip flooring. Falls are one of the biggest adverse events in the aging population, and modifications in the home are almost always designed to prevent falls or drastically reduce the risk of them. Through installation of hand-holds and specialty flooring designs, a proper CAPS specialist knows how to recommend the most beneficial flooring for your home design.

Bathroom Modifications

As a frequent site of falls, modifications to the bathroom are requisite components to a solid remodeling plan from any CAPS professional. While there should be no-slip flooring installed in the bathroom, other modifications in the bathroom can include stability-providing supports as well. From grab bars on the walls, to modified toilet seating, safety in design is the focus of a bathroom remodel plan for the aging adult. There are shower modifications for those who prefer, and bathtubs that provide walk-in capabilities so you don’t have to sacrifice comfort for safety.

Lighting and Fixtures

Overall design mastery is needed to become a CAPS professional, and attention to detail is a must. While not likely a consideration one thinks of in their younger years, aspects of the smaller details of the home remodel are high priority renovations for the CAPS professional to enact in the aging person’s home. Faucets and door knobs are two such details that CAPS professionals are trained to consider for modification for the older adult. Faucets and door knobs with levers are easier for the older adult to utilize over standard twist and grip designs.

Installing lighting that allows for a low-level ambiance throughout the night is another consideration when preventing falls in the home. There are also smart lighting setups these days that allow for automatic turn on and off either on a timer or in relation to motion in the home. Heat lighting within the bathroom is another modification the CAPS professional may recommend for your home to keep you from rushing in the high-fall environment of a bathroom.

Major Renovation Designs

CAPS professionals will be armed with specific details regarding each of the above areas in order to help provide the safest environment for you to age in place in, but they will also have large-scale designs prepared to renovate your overall home. If you live in a multi-level home for instance, the installation of stair lifts may become requisite for safe ambulation between levels. Planning of installing ramps to the outer entrances of the home will help make it more accessible should you require ambulation devices such as wheelchairs in the future. Some CAPS specialists are even prepared to provide large-scale renovation schematics to redesign entire interiors of homes to suit your evolving needs.

Choosing an Aging in Place specialist does not need to be a burden. If you keep in mind these key areas that a CAPS professional should be well-versed in, you will be able to identify a knowledgeable professional quickly and they can provide you with a plan to meet all of your current and potential needs.

About THE AUTHOR

Nichole Lindemier

Nichole Lindemier BSN, RN is a Neuro-Rehabilitation Nurse, educator and freelance writer based in Michigan who has 15 years of experience caring for adults in Emergency, Long-Term Care andAssisted Living settings. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Michigan-Flint and is currently pursuing her degree as aFamily Nurse Practitioner with the University of Cincinnati.

Read more about Nichole Lindemier

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