By Jack Werner
I will never forget coming home from the Vietnam War to find my dad studying a small piece of paper with a discouraging look on his face. It was the electric bill and the monthly payment was higher than the mortgage payment. He looked up at me and said, "Son, the problem is not that we are too poor, the problem is I just lived too long."
This is a continuing problem many aging Americans face everyday. Most retiring parents want to stay in their home but, due to expenses, declining health and lack of a support system, many end up in a nursing home.
Recent studies indicate 78 percent of people who leave their home could stay with some home modifications. Americans prefer to remain in their homes as they mature rather than seek assisted living and other arrangements. Vast amounts of government money are spent annually to cover nursing home costs and millions of dollars could be saved with a few remodels and knowledge of community resources.
That is why now more than ever Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS) are important.
Older consumers want a reliable means of identifying professionals they can trust to remodel their homes. It's not just installing a few grab bars in the bathroom. It's making the home safe and accessible. You need to understand the community resources and financial support available throughout the different stages of the aging process. Of course, making a home safe and accessible is a big factor, but instead of trying to predict future needs, bring in an occupational therapist to foresee those future needs and catch issues one might forget.
Training to become a "CAPS" remodeler includes three different courses that focus on the technical aspect, business management and customer-service skills essential to residential home modifications for aging in place.
On Jan. 11, 12 and Jan. 18, I will be teaching the initial CAPS class (covers three days). It will concentrate on learning aging- in-place basics, including what builders need to know when remodeling a home for older clients, financing and resource options available, and how to market these services.
As a commercial and residential inspector with almost 30 years teaching experience, I am now teaching the only CAPS class in Oklahoma taught by a National Association of Home Builders certified CAPS trainer.
At age 64, I am already making my own plans to address potential unsafe environments in my home, including the need for a bedroom and bathroom on the first floor of my two-story home.
Problems won't wait to fix themselves. The aging-in-place concept is to address problems early before you can't walk upstairs after a hip replacement or need a walk-in-shower when a wheelchair becomes part of daily life. With a growing number of baby boomers heading for retirement, now is the time for home-remodeling professionals to get on board and start making homes safe for their older clients.
To find out more information or to sign up for the CAPS class, contact Kathy Kastner with the Oklahoma State Home Builders Association at (405) 843-5579 or go to the training signup on the website here: https://www.okhba.org/html/courses.php?Year=2012