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Is Your Home Age-Friendly?

To have a complete assessment of your home for its age-friendliness, enlist the help of an occupational therapist or certified aging-in-place specialist

If you're concerned about how well a fit you and your home will be as you age and your physical abilities change, an occupational therapist or certified aging-in-place specialist can conduct an assessment of you and your home.

Fixing up your home? AARP member discounts can help

Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists (CAPS)

The National Association of Home Builders, in collaboration with AARP and other experts, developed the certified aging-in-place specialist (CAPS) program to address the needs of consumers who want to make their house a beautiful home for a lifetime — regardless of one’s age or abilities.

CAPS professionals understand industry codes and standards, the requirements of common remodeling projects and their costs, product ideas and the resources needed to provide comprehensive and practical aging-in-place solutions.

CAPS can identify and make home modifications or changes to help people live independently in their homes at later ages, and can find solutions to common obstacles that make houses unsafe or uncomfortable.

Occupational Therapists (OT)

Occupational therapists assess the fit between individuals and their environment. An OT can identify ways you can modify your home to help compensate for any difficulty or disability you have.

Although all licensed occupational therapy practitioners are qualified to work in home modification, many who specialize in this area have obtained specialty certification through the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) or have the certified aging-in-place specialist (CAPS) designation.

The Assessment

During an assessment you may be asked what you do each day and what your goals are for the future. An OT or CAPS specialist will also be concerned about how health conditions can impact your ability to participate in activities. For instance, you might be asked some of the following questions:

  • Are you a gourmet cook? Or are you looking to simplify your cooking activities?

  • Do you spend more time outdoors in your yard or inside in your basement recreation room?

  • Do you need home office space? Or, do wish you had a playroom for the grandchildren?

  • Are you avoiding activities that you used to do because they're difficult or you're worried about safety?

  • Have limitations in vision forced you to give up or curtail certain detail work?

  • Are certain activities painful or difficult?

  • Is reading or detail work affected by blurry vision or vision loss?

  • Are you experiencing balance issues or shortness of breath when climbing the stairs?

You also may be asked to perform specific tasks you do each day, or one you want to do better or more safely. Examples include reaching into a kitchen cabinet or stepping into a bathtub.

Such an individualized assessment can help determine what changes to your home environment may be needed to make it safer and more comfortable for you. Based on the information gathered during the assessment, the OT or CAPS professional will make recommendations for how to change your home environment so you can safely, comfortably and successfully do the things you want to do in and around your home. Possible recommendations might include:

  • Ways to adapt your kitchen to reduce the time or effort it takes you to prepare your meals

  • Options for updating your bathroom so bathing is easier and safer

  • Changing the lighting in your home so it is easier to read a recipe or see the stairs at night

To find an occupational therapist or certified aging-in-place specialist speak with your health care provider or visit this NAHB directory.

Learn More! Select a Home Fit topic from the sidebar (above). Read the complete AARP Home Fit Guide in print by downloading (PDF) or ordering your free copy now. Contact your AARP State office and ask when it will be hosting an AARP Home Fit Workshop.

Article last reviewed or updated April 2014

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