by Karen Flores, J.D., Hotline Attorney
It is no surprise that most people would prefer to live in their own home as they age rather than relocate to Assisted Living or a Long Term Care facility. Many homes, however, were not designed or built to accommodate the changing physical needs of the aging. In order to promote independent living and aging in place, the National Association of Home Builders in collaboration with AARP has established training programs to create Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS). CAPS are professional remodelers, contractors, designers, architects, and health care consultants who are trained to assess a home and modify it with features that will allow the residents to remain living in the home safely and independently as they age. In evaluating a home, CAPS professionals can consider the current as well as the future circumstances of the homeowners.
- Better lighting, both indoors and outdoors;
- Handrails by the doors and grab bars in the bathrooms;
- Ramps or no-step entrance to the home;
- Showers without curbs to eliminate the need to step inside;
- Main living on a single story, including full bath;
- Widen doors to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers;
- And, door and cabinet handles for easy grip and control.
There are many more modifications on which a CAPS can advise, depending upon the needs and remodeling budget. Such alterations may actually increase the value of the home and are usually much less expensive than the cost of Assisted Living and Long Term Care. All active CAPS professionals can be found at nahb.org/CAPS directory.
Karen Flores is a Part-time Staff Attorney for the Legal Hotline for Michigan Seniors and the Mid-America Pension Rights Project. She first joined ELM in 1995 when it was known as the Legal Hotline For Older Michiganians (LHOM).
After 4 years at LHOM, she left the practice of law to stay home with her children. She returned to ELM in 2013 as a Volunteer Attorney and was hired in August, 2013.
She graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in Political Science/Pre-Law. After graduating from Cooley Law School, she clerked for Circuit Court in Midland County and also represented clients on appeals of Termination of Parental Rights Orders.