Are you a parent or caregiver of a child with special needs? Are you an adult child of an aging parent with a chronic medical condition or physical disability? Maybe both? Or are you a retiree looking to make home improvements that dually serve as a sustainable plan for your future needs? If so…or if you know those that are…You know how imperative the accessibility and functionality of a home environment can be to optimizing independence, comfort, safety and a sense of meaningful belonging. Let’s take a closer look at some of the needs that you, your family, and countless others in our communities may be facing, and discover some of the therapeutic and family-centered resources that are available to help you navigate the challenges along these journeys.
The US Census Bureau statistics indicate that the number of older Americans aged 65 or older will double by the year 2030, to over 70 million. And recent estimates from the CDC indicate that about one in six, or about 15%, of children 3 to 17 years old in the United States have one or more developmental disabilities. These conditions indicate a physical, learning, language and/or behavior impairment, and often impact daily function. According to the Pew Research Center, more than one in eight Americans aged 40 to 60 is both raising a child and caring for a parent, in addition to between 7 and 10 million adults caring for their aging parents from a long distance.
The Sandwich Generation is a common term used to describe the generation of people (usually in their 30s or 40s) who care for their aging parents while supporting their own children. The term was introduced to the social work and the gerontology communities, respectively, by Dorothy Miller and Elaine Brody in 1981. But now that people are living longer and children are growing up and needing continued care, the “sandwiching” is felt by both men and women who are well into their 50’s and 60’s. Research also shows a substantial increase in the Boomerang Generation-young adults, including post-college students, who return home to live with their parents and continue living with their parents throughout their early adult years. The parents of these young adults are often caring for their children longer than they expected, as well as now also being expected to assume the role of caretaker for their elderly parents. These sandwiched individuals become responsible for helping their loved ones with a multitude of activities, which may include self-care, medical services and advocacy, administering medications, and aiding in financial and legal matters; and these demands can drain financial resources and lead to emotional difficulties for both the caregivers and their loved ones.
So what are CAPS and why should I learn more? Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS), are professionals that have received an advanced certification issued by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Aging in Place is a concept often associated with elderly populations but is more accurately described as the ability for individuals of ALL ages to thrive in their own environment. CAPS apply creativity and ingenuity to responsive design solutions and make innovative product recommendations with client’s individualized needs in mind. Certified Aging in Place Specialists come from a variety of professional backgrounds, including, but not limited to construction, architecture, engineering, design and rehabilitation, however a Specialist that has a professional background in therapeutic intervention, disease management, and knowledge of human development across the lifespan, are particularly valuable in addressing an individual’s and family’s comprehensive needs.
With expertise as Occupational Therapists in pediatric and adult rehabilitation, Child Inspired is proud to offer personalized home assessments with practical solutions from a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS). Learn more about our therapeutic frame of reference that comprehensively addresses the physical, sensory and mental health components and considerations of each unique home environment.
NO PLACE LIKE HOME
Familiar surroundings, including routines, rituals and memories ingrained within the walls of a home provide us with a comforting environment to grow and prosper. The relationship between an individual and their environment is analyzed in order to create a barrier-free lifestyle. Home modifications make everyday living safer and easier. Many solutions are not costly such as rearranging set up to create open pathways or creating sensory-friendly spaces for young children. Small home features such as motion sensor lighting or retractable storage shelving can have a big impact on independence without a big investment. Larger scale modifications in a bathroom require a financial investment but the changes that maximize quality of life are priceless, and can address long-term needs of individuals and families.
When families and caregivers need to provide care to young children and older adults simultaneously, how do you create a functional workspace to serve many needs? Home modifications can be designed as temporary, incremental, moveable or permanent based on the individualized needs of each family.
CHRONIC OR PROGRESSIVE DISEASE
Effective and efficient use of a home’s layout can mean all the difference for an individual with a physical disability. Using medical knowledge of disease progression, we can help you make choices to support your and your family’s current and future needs. Our suggestions will promote enhancing and maintaining functional independence, healthy body mechanics, joint protection, fall prevention and energy conservation.
ACCIDENTS AND TRAUMA
Our clinical expertise in a multitude of medical and educational settings (home health, schools, acute inpatient rehabilitation, skilled nursing, assisted living, subacute rehab centers) has provided us with ample knowledge of the recovery process with a patient and family-centered perspective. We assess the needs you currently have and provide professional guidance into long-term planning for both clients and their caregivers as needed.
AGING IN PLACE & FALLS
More than half of all falls by elderly persons occur in their very own home. Falls are preventable! Falls may occur from physical weakness, environmental obstacles or hazards, poor sensory input (low vision, poor hearing, decreased proprioception, etc). Unfortunately, that single fall may turn into a one-way ticket to a nursing facility with a very expensive price tag, upwards of $100,000/year.
Overview of the Home Assessment process
CAPS meet on-site at your home and observe your routine within the space you utilize daily. We measure doorways and appliances in relation to your physical needs, in a single area or the whole home if you choose. We consult with contractors, builders, remodelers, architects and designers to put our recommendations into the functional outcomes that serve you and your family best. We have connections with a network of NAHB providers to offer specific plans to complete the work you choose, such as:
- Handrail and grab bar installation
- Universal design incorporation
- SMART technology and communication systems
- Ramps, elevators and vertical lifts
- Door widening, changing hardware to swing back, pocket or barn doors, etc
- Tub cut-outs or shower remodeling for threshold-less/zero entry
- Pull out or pull down shelves and cabinets
- Elimination of thresholds
- Adding appropriate non-glare lighting sources to increase visibility
- Creation of sensory zones for self-regulation or fulfilling sensory diets
- Adaptive equipment and assistive medical devices
- Developmentally-appropriate design for pediatric needs
- Intergenerational considerations for families caring for both children & aging adults
Please consider the following questions. If any of these are a YES, please contact us!
- Is it challenging for you to freely go from room to room in your home?
- Do you avoid going upstairs/downstairs because of a flight of steps?
- Do you stay home more often because it’s too much effort getting in/out of the house? Have you had to cancel an appointment because you couldn’t get there?
- Do you have to decline a visit from someone you love because your home is not accessible for them?
- Have you or someone you love fallen at home?
- Can you reach everything you need without stepping on a stool?
- Do you sponge bathe instead of showering because it is difficult to get in/out of the tub or shower?
- Does it ever feel difficult to get up from your toilet?
- Do you wish there was something to hold onto for support while you shower?
- Are your doorways or hallways too narrow for you to get through using a walker or wheelchair?
- Is your morning routine more difficult than it used to be?
- If you are a caregiver, is your body sore from reaching or bending over while providing care? Do you have enough space to provide adequate care daily?
- Does your child demonstrate sensory sensitivities that impact their success completing daily routines in the home environment?
- Do you or your loved one have a visual or memory impairment that is making completion of daily activities a safety concern?
- Are there multi-generational needs in your household that need to be addressed to reduce burden of care and improve quality of life?
Based in Southern, DE to provide on-site consultations, or available virtually with phone and video conferencing options to serve the needs of your loved ones and families at a distance. Please contact us to learn more and schedule a consultation!
Rebecca Kelly, MS, OTR/L earned her Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy 10 years ago from Towson University. In addition to being an OT, she has become a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) because there truly is no place like home! She has worked with clients in their own homes, acute care, inpatient rehabilitation, skilled nursing and assisted living facilities. She and her family moved to Delaware 4 years ago in the never-ending quest for sunshine and sea breeze. She loves going for walks with their Labrador Retriever, with plans one day of training him to be a therapy dog.