Aging in Place—Education First!

Article submitted by Erik Listou, CAPS, CAASH, CGR, CGP, CR, LDST. Eric Listou is the Founder of the Build Responsible Institute, providing education and awareness to consumers and the industry. Visit his website for more information -

As I start moving beyond my youth (this year I turn 62) I find myself often using many of those old truisms called, old wive’s tales. Don’t tell my wife I admit this, but I have come to realize, wives usually are right! One of those great truisms I love is something about not seeing the forest for the trees. Sometimes we become so involved in our own worlds, we fail to step back and see our own forests.

After starting in the building industry 45 years ago, my work, my passion, my forest, has now become helping to create safe and comfortable homes for everyone. About two decades ago, as I started on this path, I found myself going in many directions, doubting my efficiency and effectiveness. I realized I needed a better path, a plan. I needed more information. I needed education. How about you? Are you taking time to step back from your everyday bustle of activity and see the forest? Are you taking time for education?

There is certainly no lack of information about housing for older adults. If you Google search Aging in Place, you find over 9 million entries! That’s a lot of trees! So how do you work through all of that information? How do you discern what is relevant for you and your clients? There are some major groups that do provide reliable information, such as the United States Census when they tell us our population increase from 2005 to 2020 in 60+ age groups is 71%. We trust the AARP when they tell us that 90% of seniors want to stay in their own homes as they age. The MetLife Mature Marketing Institute accurately informs us that falls are the leading cause of injury-related visits to the emergency room in the U.S. and the primary cause of accidental deaths (75 percent) in people over 65. The NAHB accurately tracks housing dollars and estimates the aging in place remodeling market to be $20-$25 billion. But whom do you trust for accurate and timely education?

Education is truly one of life’s greatest adventures. The more we learn, the better we are able to focus our work and our lives. As we apply new information to our own forests we are better able to meet our goals, making changes in the world that we only dreamed of before. But where do we turn for education about housing, especially for older adults? If we go back to our computer and search for aging in place education, there are over 45 million entries! Way too many trees! Let me offer to you some practical and achievable suggestions.

Let’s start by going back to some of those organizations that are recognized leaders in housing for older adults. The two largest are the AARP and the NAHB. They recognized the need for quality education for adult housing and, along with the NAHB 50+ Housing and Remodelers Councils, created the CAPS program. CAPS stands for Certified Aging in Place Specialist. I took my CAPS training early in the program and became #43 of about 4,000 nationally. This course gave me the skills and confidence to work for and properly serve older adults. The information was presented in a way that made sense to me as a business person responsible to my clients and to my staff and industry partners. The three day course starts with teaching the demographics and marketing to older adults. Day two continues with the technical components necessary to provide to clients, and day three teaches the core business skills necessary in business. Now, as an instructor, I often hear comments that encore my own emotions after my training, “This course changed my life” and “Now I am comfortable in providing to my clients the best possible service.”

So, if you can’t see your own forest because of all of those trees, take some time to learn from the experts. Participate in education at every opportunity. Contact your local NAHB chapter to find out when they are offering the next CAPS training or talk to me about bringing the CAPS or other programs directly to your organizations and your community. Help us reach our goal of safe and comfortable homes for everyone!

About the Author Erik Listou and the Build Responsible Institute

Erik Listou has 45 years experience in the building industry. He is a business leader, educator, author, public speaker, radio and television personality. Recognized throughout the building industry with leadership and project awards, he is nationally certified and serves as a housing industry liaison to local governments. Listou is an instructor for the NAHB and in 1996 founded the Build Responsible Institute. They create and present seminars for consumers and industry and formal industry training, including all of the NAHB courses and many custom designed courses. The newest one to four hour courses are: Introduction to Aging in Place, Body Language for Professionals and Presentation Marketing. Outside of the housing industry, Listou is a respected business educator, motivational speaker and professional musician. One of his greatest joys is towards the end of each year when he and his wife don their big red suits and visit with thousands of children. Visit his website for more information -

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