America is aging and our life expectancy is increasing. By the year 2030, there will be more than twice as many people aged 65+ years than there are today. AARP surveys repeatedly indicate that people would prefer to reside in their existing homes. However, only 16% of survey respondents have done home modifications.
The primary goal of a successful aging-in-place remodel is to gain or maintain the client’s independence over time. This goal is best accomplished when an occupational therapist and a remodeler work as a team.
It is best to have an occupational therapist available at the beginning stages of a remodeling project because an occupational therapist brings a medical perspective and helps determine what will meet the client’s needs for now and in the future. Occupational therapists are skilled at recognizing how the home environment affects the ability to participate in activities. An occupational therapist evaluates balance, endurance, safety awareness, vision, and many other functional areas such as taking a shower or climbing the stairs.
The occupational therapist collaborates with the remodeler whose expertise is needed to determine the structural integrity regarding the installation of the modifications. The remodeler has knowledge of building codes and specifications. A remodeler who has a certified aging in place specialist (CAPS) designation understands universal design concepts and customizes the renovations based on the individual’s needs. Together, the occupational therapist and remodeler create a much better outcome that will meet the client’s needs over time.
To learn more about partnering an occupational therapist with a remodeling professional, contact:
Nancy Dillinger, OTR, SCEM, ATP
AOTA Environmental Modification in SCEM