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Aging in Place Essentials: Part 4 – Maintaining & Modifying Your Home: Who Can Help?

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As you have gotten older, many of your household tasks may have become much harder and more dangerous than they once were. Now, you don’t have to do it alone. In Part 4 of our Aging in Place series, we will look at how you can maintain and modify your home with a little help from Aging in Place Villages, occupational therapists and certified aging in place specialists (CAPS).

Aging in Place Villages

Aging in Place Villages link together independently living seniors. Although a Village might sound like senior housing, residents live in their own homes and take advantage of the village’s support structure. The goal of a Village is to offer the amenities of assisted living without making seniors leave their home. Members pay an annual rate for services like:

  • Housework
  • Transportation
  • Computer and paperwork assistance
  • Meal Delivery
  • Shopping with other members
  • Referrals to vetted contractors
  • Gardening and yard cleanup

Do you need to change a light bulb but don’t want to climb a ladder? Then just call someone from your Village to come over. Villages have many volunteers, so there are younger members who can help you finish your housework. The annual rate for membership varies from a few hundred dollars to about $1000, but many Villages have options for low-income seniors.1 Many Villages have volunteer-first models, in which certain members are responsible for administration. Some Villages hire an administrator so that there is someone running the whole operation. Each Village offers different services, so contact your local Village to learn more.

The Village movement began in 2002 when the Beacon Hill Village enrolled its first members.2 Since then, 150 villages have begun across the country, with 120 more in development.3 In a UC Berkeley study, 55 to 80% of seniors said that their Village had improved their quality of life.4 Joining an Aging in Place Village might make it easier for you to take care of those tough household tasks.

Occupational Therapists

An occupational therapist figures out a person’s goals, tries to make it easier to perform daily activities and evaluates if these goals have been met. If you have vision impairments, restricted mobility or other ailments, occupational therapists can also suggest modifications to make it easier to get around your home. Here are some ways that occupational therapists might assist you Age in Place:

  • Recommend furniture arrangements so that you have clear walkways
  • Develop a plan for you to make it easier to access your frequently used items
  • Teach you basic exercises to strengthen your mobility and make it less difficult to move around your home
  • Label your drawers to make it easier to remember where you keep items
  • Find out how to reduce glare in your home

Occupational therapists provide an individualized service. Each home is evaluated to find the best way to make it fit its homeowner. Physicians and other medical care professionals can refer you to an occupational therapist in your area.

Medicare Part B can also help pay for medically necessary occupational therapy. The therapy cap limit for an occupational therapist is $1,980 per year.5 However, if your therapist or therapy provider provides documentation that your therapy was medically reasonable and necessary, then your Medicare will continue to cover its share above the yearly $1,940 cap limit. As part of the exceptions process, there are additional limits (called “thresholds”). If you get outpatient therapy services higher than the threshold amounts, a Medicare contractor will review your medical records to ensure your therapy was a medical necessity. The threshold amount for 2015 is $3,700.

Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS)

A certified aging in place specialist will look at your home and evaluate which areas need to be safer. They are trained to understand what tools and modifications are needed to safely Age in Place. CAPS professionals are trained and certified by the National Association of Home Builders.6 The training process to become a CAPS professional lasts three days and includes classes on communication and building solutions. Certified aging in place specialists also have to complete 12 hours of education every three years. These specialists are not medical or healthcare professionals. They tend to be occupational therapists, architects or remodelers.

A certified aging in place specialist could help if you are asking yourself these questions:

  • Am I able to bathe without being afraid that I will slip?
  • Could I get a walker or wheelchair through my doorway?
  • How can I safely reach high shelves?
  • Do I need to install grab bars and handrails?
  • How can I get up my stairs safely?

Maintaining your home and modifying it to fit your needs are important aspects of Aging in Place. We hope that the services outlined here will make it easier to keep yourself safe and comfortable in your home as you grow older. Check back in at Staying Put at Home to see the final part of our series on Aging in Place:

Aging in Place Essentials

  1. Introduction
  2. Making Your Home Safer & More Comfortable
  3. How Can Aging in Place Save You Money?
  4. How to Make Your Bathroom Safer
  5. Retirement Villages: Aging in Community
  6. About Beacon Hill Village
  7. About VTV Network
  8. ‘Village’ Movement for Aging Seniors Faces Some Challenges
  9. What is a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist?
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