What Are CAPS? (Certified Aging in Place Specialists)

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By Amy BlitchokGoogle

As an ever increasing number of Americans began to look for ways to age gracefully in their own homes, major organizations across the country took notice and designed a program to help train professionals who can meet the demands of this growing population of aging adults.  The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), Home Innovation Research Labs, and AARP joined forces to create the Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS)1program that teaches individuals across a variety of fields how to best serve those looking to age in place.3 

 
The certification process requires applicants to complete courses in Marketing and Communication Strategies for Aging and Accessibility, Design/Build Solutions for Aging and Accessibility, and Business Management for Building Professionals.2  When graduates successfully finish their coursework, they are equipped to assist those looking to age in place with making the best choices based on their individual needs.  While the majority of CAPSs are builders or remodelers, there are certified experts across a variety of fields ready to help you with the financial, legal, and practical design issues associated with aging in place.  The first step is making an informed decision about which CAPS can best assist you.   
 Certified Aging in Place Specialists 
Health Care Consultants
For most people, the best place to start exploring the option of aging in place is by speaking with a health care consultant who is responsible for staying on top of the latest trends and technology in order to best serve their clients.  A CAPS health care consultant has been specially trained to provide advice and assistance to people who want to age in place.  Not only do they offer guidance to individuals, they can also be part of a larger team that works together to identify and implement solutions for aging adults.  
 
Architects and Designers
An Architect who has gone through the training to become a Certified Aging in Place Specialist is an expert in making practical and aesthetically pleasing home modifications that will help customers overcome any physical limitations or challenges.  They have the knowledge and experience to use smart design solutions to make your home more accessible and easy to navigate.  If you are looking to build a new home that is custom fit to meet your needs, or you need to make significant changes to your existing home, a CAPS architect or designer can help you make the best design choices that will address your needs.  All CAPS designers are well versed in the latest, cutting edge equipment available on the market and they are experts when it comes to building codes and standards, which can be a difficult web of information for the average person to wade through.  Working with a CAPS architect or designer means having a knowledgeable professional walking you through home modification choices that can allow you to safely and comfortably age in place.
 
Contractors and Homebuilders
A Certified Aging in Place Specialist contractor or homebuilder can turn architectural designs into reality and may be your first choice if you don’t need major renovations.  They can easily install home healthcare equipment such as wheelchair ramps, walk-in tubs, and stair lifts that are retrofitted into your existing space.  A contractor or homebuilder will first consult with you and a health care professional in order to pinpoint your needs and figure out the best solutions that will fit your budget.  In addition, they will oversee any projects and make sure that they are correctly completed in a timely manner.  
 
Lawyers and Financial Consultants
Aging in place has become such a big trend that professionals outside of the building and healthcare industries are also becoming certified aging in place specialists.  If you have any financial or legal concerns about how best to finance your home renovations or protect your assets so that you can continue to live at home, there are certified lawyers and financial consultants ready to answer your questions.  They may even be able to help you find financial assistance for home modifications through government programs like Medicare and Medicaid.  You don’t have to try and navigate confusing laws, regulations, and government programs on your own.  There are trained professionals eager to help.
 
1  “Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS) Overview.”National Association of Home Builders, 2013. Web. 6 March
        2013.
 
2  “How Do I Become a Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS)?”National Association of Home Builders, 2013.  Web.  6         March 2013.
      
3  “Want to Keep Living at Home?”AARP, 2004. Web. 6 March 2013.
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