Certified Aging-in-Place Specialists vs. Occupational Therapists: What’s the Difference?

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Everyday living gets harder as we get older—but most people want to continue living in their homes, or at least with a welcoming relative. When you have physical challenges, it can be quite useful to have a certified aging-in-place specialist and handicap accessibility contractor perform certain remodeling tasks. Aging-in-place remodeling focuses on making a home more accessible for those who need a little assistance with everyday life.

The primary aim of aging-in-place remodeling is to ensure older adults or people with disabilities can safely navigate their homes. For example, you might have carpet removed to make it easier to get around with a walker or wheelchair. Doors can be widened to accommodate wheelchairs, while stability bars can be added to showers. Some people even lower their kitchen countertops, so they can sit or use a wheelchair while cooking.

When you’re ready to make aging-in-place adjustments, you might wonder who you should call: a certified aging-in-place specialist, or an occupational therapist? The following is a quick overview of the differences between these professionals.

Certified aging-in-place specialists

Certified aging-in-place specialists (CAPS) can achieve that qualification through the National Home Builders Association (NHBA). The certificate requires multiple classes and training, as well as testing. They’re trained to understand the goals and challenges that an older adult may experience while living at home. While some builders and contractors are CAPS, occupational therapists may also have this certification.

CAPS can help a person in several different ways. First, they can make recommendations about how to modify your home to meet aging-in-place concerns. Second, if they’re not builders themselves, they’ll work with builders, architects, designers and other professionals to create a comprehensive aging-in-place modification plan. They can provide information about products, time constraints, building codes and more.

Occupational therapists

In contrast, occupational therapists are healthcare professionals who can assess a person’s challenges, and come up with solutions to help. For example, an occupational therapist might come to an elderly person’s home and observe them in their daily life. They can identify the barriers to everyday independent living, then make recommendations to solve those problems. Occupational therapists may have a CAPS or another related designation.

Your occupational therapist will work with you to pinpoint specific challenges, like not being able to stand in the kitchen for more than a few minutes at a time. They’ll ask questions about your health conditions and obstacles in your daily life. Then they can offer suggestions about furniture, home modifications, helpful products and more. They may also offer suggestions and techniques for a person to safely maneuver around their home. Finally, an occupational therapist will be happy to work with builders and contractors when it’s time to design an aging-in-place remodeling plan.

In short, working with a certified aging-in-place specialist, occupational therapist and handicap accessibility contractor is a smart way to ensure that you can stay in your own home as long as possible.

WSL Incorporated is a full service design and build company, specializing in aging-in-place and handicap accessibility services. Call us today to learn more and get started on your remodeling project.

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