As Americans live longer than ever, some will find it difficult to stay in their beloved homes. Steep stairs or a slippery shower can pose dangers, and standard houses are not wheelchair accessible. With 78 million baby boomers about to hit retirement age, the time is ripe to overhaul the way homes are designed.
Universal Design makes homes accessible, comfortable and safe for all generations from childhood, through illness or temporary injury and into old age. Modifications such as ramps, grab bars, levered doorknobs, zero threshold entries, improved exterior lighting and widened doors to accommodate wheelchairs are just a few of the most important aging in place improvements for seniors’ homes.
Finding reliable contractors who specialize in home modifications and universal design can be a challenge for senior homeowners and their caregivers. One criteria to look for is the Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) designation. The CAPS program teaches the technical, business management, and customer service skills essential for residential remodelers who want to offer home modifications for the aging-in-place market.
CAPS certification alone doesn’t mean that a contractor is qualified and fully vetted. Senior homeowners, in particular, need to check that the contractor is licensed and insured according to the laws governed by the state, that his references have been checked and that he has experience in the particular project that he is being hired for.
And, that’s where Homeowner Referral Networks (HRN) that provide Aging in Place Referrals offer a very unique and much needed service. HRN’s help senior homeowners navigate the process of finding and hiring a contractor they can trust. HRN’s offering Aging in Place referrals are also a resource for home health care agencies, hospitals, senior centers and caregivers who may live out of state.