Innovative Program Helps Seniors Age at Home with Health and Home Services

Nurse with elderly woman looking at paperwork; CAPABLE program helps seniors age at home

Healthy living does not start inside of a doctor’s exam room; it starts at home. That’s why the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Nursing has created a program which provides minor health and home renovation services to seniors so they can age safely and healthily in the comfort of their home. 

What is CAPABLE? 

The Community Aging in Place—Advancing Better Living in Elders (CAPABLE) program uses a team approach to help seniors meet goals they set for themselves. The program brings professionals like nurses, occupational therapists, and home renovation and repair experts into a patient’s home to address health and environmental issues, and improve safety and independence. 

Patients who enroll in this program often have difficulty completing Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). ADLs include:

  • Cooking and feeding oneself
  • Bathing and getting dressed
  • Getting around the house safely and easily
  • Maintaining personal hygiene 
  • Using the toilet independently

According to Johns Hopkins, patients usually have difficulty with 3.9 out of 8.0 ADLs before they begin the program, and cut their difficulty score in half to 2.0 by the end of the five-month program. Participants also had reduced symptoms of depression and were able to shop for groceries and manage their medications better. 

CAPABLE is also a good investment. For every $3,000 spent in the program, health plans save $20,000. 

How was CAPABLE founded?

The program was founded by Sarah Szanton, a professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Nursing, when she was a nurse practitioner treating homebound seniors over a decade ago. 

“I had a 101-year-old patient who got around her apartment in a wheelchair and the doorway to the kitchen was too narrow to get into her kitchen with the wheelchair,” she said. “And at 101 she had to get on her knees to get into the kitchen.” 

“I was looking at their diseases, like diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and I realized we needed to do something more to help older adults age independently at home.” 

CAPABLE typically caters to low-income seniors who have fewer resources at their disposal. 

There are 29 CAPABLE programs in 15 states, offered by some Medicare Advantage plans, Meals on Wheels, Habitat for Humanity, and local aging organizations. 

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