The Certified Aging in Place Specialist

By Robert F. Bornstein, PhD and Mary A. Languirand, PhD

Our approach to successful aging is based on the Access-Opportunities-Services (AOS) model: Optimal aging in place requires that you have access to things you need to live, opportunities to engage in activities that will help you feel happy and fulfilled, and services that will keep you physically and psychologically healthy. As we discuss in our book, access can take many forms-neighborhood walkability, proximity to reliable public transportation, and so on. One important (and often neglected) aspect of access involves one's home.

Many homes, especially many older homes, were not designed with mobility in mind; they can be difficult-sometimes impossible-to navigate with a walker or wheelchair. If you intend to have renovations done to make your home safer and more accessible, we strongly recommend that you employ a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist. To use this title the contractor must undergo training in remodeling and renovation services, pass a test administered by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), and agree to abide by the Aging-in-Place Specialist Code of Ethics (you can find a complete copy of the NAHB Code of Ethics, in downloadable form, on As you'll see, the ethics code requires (among other things) that the Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist:

  • Provide the most economical remodeling services possible
  • Protect the customer by using high-quality, low-maintenance materials
  • Stay informed regarding public policies and new regulations related to aging
  • Comply with rules and regulations regarding the health, safety, and welfare of the aging-in-place community
  • Respect clients' concerns and preferences without bias, ageism, or other forms of stereotyping

Robert Bornstein and Mary Languirand are the authors of When Someone You Love Needs Nursing Home, Assisted Living, or In Home Care, which is available at, or may be purchased directly from HarperCollins Publishers.

Our latest book is entitled How to Age in Place: Planning for a Happy, Independent, and Financially Secure Retirement, published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House.