Senior woman on stair lift home modification with nurse

Two New York aging service providers are teaming up with home builders to help seniors age in place safely by modifying their homes.

The National Association of Home Builders will provide training and accreditation through its Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) accreditation program to the New York State Office for the Aging and Association for the Aging in New York. Those organizations will then work with older adults to assess and arrange for necessary home improvements to help them remain safe by reducing falls and preventing injuries.

Falls are the leading cause of injuries and deaths for people 65 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They are responsible for an estimated 3 million emergency department visits and approximately 34,000 deaths annually.

One hundred case managers have registered for the first round of CAPS training, which will run through October. Another 200 case managers will be certified over the next two years. The specialists can then recommend modifications or updates to homes and coordinate the work with a licensed contractor to make the improvements. CAPS specialists are also trained on building codes and standards, useful products and other resources for help.

“NYSOFA is thrilled at the overwhelming response to this certification program among New York’s aging services case managers,” NYSOFA Director Greg Olsen said in a statement. “Because case managers are in older adults’ homes, they are naturally positioned to identify and recommend appropriate changes to the built environment that promote independence and help reduce the risk of falls or injuries related to falls.” 

Olsen said most people don’t think about whether a home will be suitable for them as they age and noted that most homes aren’t designed with older adults in mind.

The National Association for Home Builders says it has trained and certified more than 9,500 CAPS specialists to date. 

Earlier this year, the Homes Renewed Coalition called on Congress to pass legislation that would make it easier for seniors throughout the country to get home modifications. The group, which includes Lowe’s, Right at Home and Age Safe America, wants seniors and other adults to be able to tap pre-tax retirement accounts to make tax-free home modifications for aging in place.