Saturday, December 16, 2017

"Kitchens Are Busy (And Potentially Dangerous) Places This Time Of Year"

Thanksgiving kicks off the end of year holiday celebrations and ushers in the cooking and baking that goes along with them. As such, the kitchen takes on a renewed focus for aging in place professionals. Always a center of activity in the home, the kitchen is action central during this time of year.

All of the meal planning, the food preparation, the cooking, the gathering of friends and family members for coffee, drinks, fellowship, snacks, and awaiting the meal to be ready to be served occur in the kitchen. It doesn't matter how large or small the kitchen is and how many people it can comfortably accommodate, on Thanksgiving and the other holidays that are celebrated at this time, it seems to get everyone in.

The same type of activity - maybe not to the elaborate extent that a Thanksgiving or these other feasts seem to call for - happens every other day of the year. As aging in place professionals we are quite aware of the challenges that the kitchen presents in terms of maintaining a safe and comfortable environment.

Think of the number of people that can be present at any one time in the kitchen, the variety of tasks that are being conducted - many at the same time, the various activities from food storage to cooking and cleanup, and all of the opportunities that are present for mishaps to occur.

Not trying to jinx a joyous activity such as meal preparation for a feast, it just naturally happens that with the amount of activity that goes on in the kitchen on normal days that the chance of someone getting injured on a day such as Thanksgiving or similar holiday is increased.

We're not talking about anything serious - hopefully - but the kitchen presents so many safety issues.

First, there are burns - touching hot pots and pans, getting too close to escaping steam from food or containers, touching a hot burner (gas or electric) or the oven door or shelf, eating or drinking something straight from the container when it is too hot to consume comfortably, having heated liquid (cooking oil, gravy, or water, for example) splash onto the skin, spilling hot liquid or contents onto clothing or feet, using water from the faucet when it is too warm, or touching a candle or light bulb when they are lit.

Cuts can happen - accidental cuts from knives and scissors, sharp edges of plastic packaging, paper cuts, sharp lids from cans, sharp or blunt animal bones while preparing meat dishes, broken or chipped glass on serving dishes or drinking glasses and cups, cracked or broken glass or ceramic cutting boards, stepping onto broken glass from something that just broke after falling onto the countertop or floor, poking a finger with a knife point or fork tine, or walking into the edge of an open cabinet door or other relatively sharp surface.

There also are bruises - walking into the corners of cabinets or countertops, hitting open appliance doors (oven, microwave, dishwasher, or refrigerator), bumping into the leg of a table or chair, or dropping a canned good or frozen item onto a hand or foot. 

Then there are falls - falling off of a step stool or ladder used to reach a higher shelf, falling off a chair while attempting to sit down and misjudging where the chair is or having the chair move out of the way, or falling when a chair leg or chair back that was providing support while seated on the chair breaks, cracks, or gives way.

There are other safety issues in the kitchen, but it's easy to see how the kitchen can be treacherous when we want it to be such a happy place in the home. Let's be careful and then strive to help our clients remain safe in their kitchens also. The kitchen is always an important, and busy, place in the home, but when family, friends, and neighbors gather to help celebrate the holidays, the chances of a safety breech are heightened. 


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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging in place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Friday, December 15, 2017

"Standing Out Among So Many Choices In The Marketplace"

There are many contractors who can do renovations, but not all of them are prepared to take into account the specific physical, sensory, or cognitive needs of their clients. This is where CAPS-trained professionals can make a real difference.

When a person begins considering a remodel of their current home - for aesthetic reasons, for function, to accommodate the changing needs of someone in their household, to allow a parent or other relative to move in with them, or for any other purpose, they need someone who can translate their desires into a reality for them - and factor in medically necessary improvements also. They want to locate someone who is knowledgeable, experienced, trustworthy, and someone in whom they can place their confidence for the work they want to have done.

While there are many people who technically can provide the work they need to have done, and do it within their budget, not all of those companies will or should be given serious consideration by them for various reasons. It could also be that the people contemplating the remodeling work are not comfortable with the abilities or expertise of the people they meet with about their proposed improvements or modifications. They could actually back away from a potential remodeling project - even though they seem to need the work done - because of the way the contractors they meet with treat them during the discussion phase.

This leaves a huge opening for us because we welcome and actually look for business such as this. We want to help people adapt their living space to work effectively for them as the age in place - by themselves or with others moving into the home with them.

While some contractors never get past the consideration stage because they don't impress the potential client in their ability to create for them what needs to be done, or they don't really have the mindset to complete it as anything but a remodeling project like any other they might do, we have the ability and the opportunity to let people know that were are specially trained to be able to help them - and that we have a huge interest in doing just that.

While there may be other contractors in our marketplace might be able to make similar claims about creating effective solutions, they won't have the training, the background, or the understanding that we do as CAPS professionals. We must let our clients know that we have a greater understanding of what their needs are and how to address them in a remodeling project. We bring a team approach also - remodeler, occupational therapist, designer, architect, durable medical equipment specialist and others who work together for their benefit.

This is why someone should want to work with us. We aren't just approaching their needs as contractors but as a complete team that includes a real understanding of their needs and how to address them. 

We have to be totally convinced - without any wavering - that we absolutely offer the best solutions, quality of work, attention to detail, and value for the money invested of anyone in our marketplace. As long as we find people that can benefit from what we offer, there should be no stopping us in our enthusiasm to help them engage us and obtain the solutions they seek.

Being the best at what we do won't make the sale by itself. It needs to be there, but we have to translate our expertise and excellence into creating a trust relationship with our potential clients. When they feel comfortable with us and know that we can do the job better than anyone else they might consider, they are much more likely to use us.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging in place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

"No Matter The Size Of The Renovation, It Begins With A Budget"

It all starts with a budget. Whether we're talking about a simple solution or a fairly major home improvement project, there are many factors and variables to be considered before a budget can be determined, but this is where it begins. Before a course of action can be agreed upon - whether the homeowner is doing the work themselves or someone like us is providing it, there has to be a monetary parameter established.

The budget is affected by the projected or anticipated size of the project, the number of elements involved, how many people need to be involved in doing the work, the technical nature of the work, the expertise or specialization of the team members required, the quality or brand name of the fixtures and components selected, and the intended lifespan of the improvements. Doing something as a "quick-fix" that only needs to last a year or two until something else is decided versus doing something for a ten-year period or longer definitely factors into the pricing.

Just as finding out from a custom home builder that they typically build for a certain price per square foot and that a competitor is higher or lower than this really reveals nothing about what ultimately may need to be spent to create the desired look and end result. The quality and type of the features and fixtures used will have a direct bearing on the overall project cost.

When we are told or when we hear someone tell us that something is so much a square foot to build, we immediately need to learn or ask what this includes before we can determine if this is a good number or not. Obviously, using an entry-grade or entry-level item versus a luxury or higher-end one is not going to factor into the price per square foot scenario the same.

This same thinking applies to our clients. They might be people who are interested in achieving a certain result at the lowest possible cost - something that will be safe and serviceable to use but done in the most economically possible way. This is most likely to occur when the improvements weren't really something that had been anticipated or contemplated, when the length of time they will be needed is relatively short, and when there is a very limited budget for this project.

They could be people who want a little higher quality but still are conscious of holding to a budget, or they might be interested in achieving a top-notch job with top-of-the-line appliances and fixtures in their design. A solution for a traumatic injury won't have been budgeted at all since the injury or condition was never anticipated, but it must be dealt with just the same - and quickly.

Before we can begin formulating a budget and determine a resulting scope of work that coincides with that amount of money, we need to learn what people are envisioning as improvements, what they have identified as potential weaknesses or areas of concern in their home layout, and what they are able to expend from their own resources without looking to outside funding sources. We can't be acting as loan originators, but we should be knowledgeable of appropriate funding sources for the types of clients we are working with and the projects that we are doing.

Another way of arriving at a budget is to ask our clients what types of fixtures, appliances, flooring, cabinetry, door hardware, wall treatments, and other items - by description and possibly name brand they are interested in using or that they have knowledge of - to learn how realistic they are and to help ground them in potential project expenses. There is no point moving forward with the client having unrealistic expectations about what it will take to achieve their desired results. As long as they have a sensible approach to what needs to be done, they might not be able to get everything they want, but we can give them everything they require to fulfill their needs. 

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging in place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

"What If We Were Could Complete Just One Or Two Modifications For People?"

As aging in place professionals, we want to help as many people as we can to remain living in their current homes and to make sure that those homes provide as much safety and comfort for them as possible.

Nevertheless, not everyone we work with has a large budget or the willingness to have the necessary work done. As we meet people to begin learning about how they live and utilize their living space, talk with them about issues they perceive as needing to be addressed, evaluate their living space to determine physical challenges that their homes present, and then decide on a reasonable budget that can be used to fund the improvements that we deem necessary, we may find that only one or two key improvements can be made. There simply isn't the money to fund any more work than this.

Ideally, we would work with clients who had a good idea of the types of improvements that they would like to have made and a reasonable amount of money allocated to complete the project. Ideally.

But what about reality? How about all of the projects that really need to be done from a safety or medically necessary standpoint where the budget just isn't there? Then what?

Not everyone can fund a reasonable budget for the improvements that should be undertaken. There are several low-income deserving seniors that need work done but simply can't afford to do much.

It's much easier to work with someone who needs work done in their home and has the funds on hand to complete the work. But not everything in this business is easy.

Those people of more modest means have just as urgent of needs - sometimes even more so. Often, it's because of their limited financial ability that many of the physical issues present in the home have arisen. They simply have not been able to address them as they have occurred.

Rather than walk away from lower-income individuals who can afford to have little work done to their homes, what if we could do just one thing to help them live in their homes more safely? Maybe it would provide a little better access for them.

Granted there may not be a lot that can be done on a very low budget, but what if we could do just one improvement for every home we encountered? Maybe we could identify outside funds to assist the renovation effort, but even if we couldn't, imagine the difference that just one strategic improvement might make for someone who really needs it.

While we might like to make the entry doors wider, add exterior lighting, ensure that there is a wide enough landing area to approach and easily enter the front door, that there aren't any serious obstacles or steps to overcome in reaching the front door, that the flooring inside is safe and provides a solid footing, that the kitchen and bath areas are reasonably safe, that they can attend to the activities of daily living without their homes becoming a factor in limiting them, and to make sure they can operate handles, faucets, and controls in their home, it just might not be possible to do more than one or two of these items.

Still, making just one or two significant improvements to every home we encounter - even if they are not particularly large in scope or expensive to do - we would be helping so many people to have a chance at remaining in their homes more effectively and safely.

The question then is if we are only able to complete one or two improvements for some people, what tops our list of what that should be? It will vary by the home and the individual needs, but what items do we view as being the most important from a safety or access standpoint? To the extent that we find these items needed in a home, which do we recommend first? Second? We can be very effective with this approach if this aligns with our business model or we are searching for a direction for the new year.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging in place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

"People Don't Have To Admit That They Are Aging In Place To Be Doing So"

As aging in place professionals, and more particularly as Certified Aging In Place Specialists, we are familiar with the concept of aging in place - of people wanting to remain living independently in their own homes indefinitely. It turns out that not as many people as we might think that we are attempting to serve use or are familiar with the term aging in place, however. No matter. That changes nothing.

Just because someone doesn't know the name of a ball-pein hammer or some other tool or implement, for instance, doesn't mean that they can't use it to drive a nail or shape something. Often, names and terms of items or concepts are for our convenience, and many are industry terms. Nevertheless, aging in place as a concept and a phrase goes well beyond our usage of it and extends to the general marketplace - even for those who may not be familiar with the exact term.

There are plenty of ways for consumers to hear about aging in place because many professional organizations (AIA - American Institute of Architects, AOTA - American Occupational Therapy Association, APTA - American Physical Therapy Association, NKBA - National Kitchen & Bath Association, ASID - American Society of Interior Designers, AIBD - American Institute of Building Designers, and others, in addition to NAHB - National Association of Home Builders and AARP) use this term and frequently tell the marketplace about it. It's common now for consumers to request that CAPS professionals help them and are asking if someone is CAPS trained when they make their initial phone call to discuss services.

Still, in the most recent Aging In Place Survey conducted by Home Advisor (2017), they report that just 43 percent of participants aged 55 to 75 (less than half of those surveyed) and a little more than half (52 percent) over those over the age of 75 said that they were familiar with the term aging in place when it was posed to them.

They may know what the term embodies, and quite likely they are doing what the name suggests anyway, they just are not identifying with it because they have not seen the need to identify with a label.

There are some people who have not admitted to themselves or others that they plan to remain in their current home and age in place, but they have no plans to change anything about their residence either. They are quietly aging in place and likely are unaware of we would term what they are doing.

The bottom line is that people want to age in place and are doing so at an ever-increasing number, whether they know that there is an "official" name for what they are doing or not. They just know that they want to remain in their current home and are committed to doing so over the long haul.

Aging in place is a healthy endeavor for people as they get older, but it's not limited just to seniors as many people might think by hearing the name. People at any age can and should benefit from having a safe, comfortable, convenient, and accessible dwelling to live in and occupy, whether they are living at home with their parents (at any age), they have an apartment, they are raising a family, or it's just them (with or without a partner).

We really are more interested in helping people to achieve aging in place solutions than in having them know that there is a name for what they are doing. If they are aware of the term, that's fine. If not, it's OK as well. The important thing is that we get to help as many people as we can to achieve a productive and effective lifestyle in their homes as they grow older.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging in place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Monday, December 11, 2017

"Remaining In Place Has Many Advantages"

Staying in the same home over time and waking up in the same home every day is exciting. To some it might seem humdrum or boring; however, just the opposite can be true. Knowing that we have found our forever home gives us great peace of mind and eliminates all of the stress of worrying about finding a home just a little bit better or a little newer than what we have now. We don't need to go there.

That's one of the reasons they created home improvement and decor centers as well as remodelers. It doesn't mean that there aren't any changes in the existing that might be made or contemplated. It just means that no physical move to a new location is on the horizon - or necessary.

Knowing that this is the home we have decided works for us - with or without any tweaks that we may consider - takes away the distraction of looking at and considering other properties. We can focus on enjoying the home and the lifestyle that we have - and those who share the home with us.

There are many reasons why we or anyone else would want to remain in our current homes, including being in a convenient location for shopping, going to a nearby park, walking, jogging, bike riding, getting onto roadways to run errands or go to work, or other appealing reasons.

We may like the architectural design and layout of our home. It might have been brand new when we bought it so that we are the original occupants and were able to select many of the original colors, styles, and finishes. Possibly it was just a few years old when we purchased and moved into it. It could be a historic home built decades ago. Of course, it also could be a rental.

There may be many features in our home - whether the home came that way or we have added them since moving in - that offer us real pleasure and satisfaction. They might be attractive, comfortable or convenient to use, efficient, or otherwise something that we enjoy about our homes.

If we were to move into a different home - which we aren't - we would be faced with the monumental and unenviable task of trying to move everything that we have accumulated over the years, or spending hours and hours sorting through all of our stuff to pare back on what we would actually be able to move with us to another home. This one fact alone is enough to discourage many people from even considering a move when they possibly could benefit from a different home.

Of course, moving into another home would mean a fairly substantial financial commitment. We would need to prepare our existing home for sale or clean it out to return to the property owner in the case of a rental. There might be minor repairs required to paint, fix, or otherwise restore walls, cabinets, appliances, flooring, lighting, plumbing, landscaping, exterior buildings, and other parts of our home to an acceptable condition.

Once we were ready to move, we would need to prepare everything we own to be moved - ourselves or by hiring a moving company. Then we would need to be ready to have items broken, lost, or misplaced. This just seems to go with a move no matter how careful we are to plan for things going well.

All things considered - including the fact that we really do like our current homes and derive much satisfaction from living in them - it's great to know that we can relax and wake up in the same home tomorrow without giving any thought to trying to find something different.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging in place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

"This Time Of Year Is Great For Conquering Procrastination"

This is the time of year when many of us begin to realize that we have put off activities that we intended to do this year and now discover that there are only a few days in which to complete them before they slide into next year. Some probably will not get done until then.

Many of us are guilty of procrastinating - of putting things off until we have more time, until we are caught up on seemingly more important or more pressing issues, when the crisis has passed, after this event or that one happens, or until so many other things happen that can delay or forestall our getting started on the things on our list.

When we procrastinate or put off getting started, we never run the risk of being hasty or making a mistake. We aren't criticized - at least not in the moment. We are masters of our time - while the momentary vacation lasts. We get to do whatever it is that we think will be more fun or more rewarding at the time than what we say we want or need to do.

When we know that we should be writing or completing a proposal because someone is depending on receiving it from us, but we are stuck or we feel like we need a little break before getting back to it, we put it off and procrastinate. Maybe we're not sure where or how to begin - might as well put it off for a little while until some inspiration hits us.

Maybe we need to formulate a business plan, set an appointment, commit a business model to writing, or draft job descriptions to use in interviewing and vetting potential strategic partners that we need to work with us to create solutions for our clients.


While momentary breaks in activity can be productive - they can allow us a time to recharge or to regroup and allow an issue to appear differently to us after a little time away from it (making procrastination helpful in a way) - the issue or problem facing us didn't magically go away while we did something else. It could appear much more manageable when we return to it, but it could seem even more challenging.

Just think about all of the ways that we can avoid the activities that we know we should be doing but allow us time to procrastinate and get away from them temporarily. Then, more things come along, and the list of what we need to do continues to grow.


We all need to pause occasionally to recharge our batteries and pursue fun, pleasant activities, but these can get in the way or delay the work that we need to be doing. There's a fine line between taking a scheduled break in our workload to gain a fresh start and just escaping something we don't want to get started on or complete.

With the remaining days in 2017, we have a chance to atone for any activities which we have been procrastinating about this year. We may not be able to get to everything that remains undone on our list of goals or things we intended to do before the end of the year, but we can make a concentrated effort to put a checkmark next to many of them.

Sometimes we have to tackle procrastination head-on and get the job done while we are motivated to do it and while we are fresh. Then we can relax after the work is completed. It may be a little more challenging this way, but in the end, the job gets done and isn't hanging over us or looming in front of us as we start the new year.


There's nothing like a hard deadline of the end of the year facing us to provide the incentive we need to get important items on our list completed so they don't have to carry over into next year. It's normal to slow down a little at the end of the year, but we need to push ourselves to complete what we feel is important. Then we can have a great new year's celebration.


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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging in place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

"Consumers Need To Be Reassured Than Renovations Are Feasible"

As aging in place professionals, we know there is a growing interest in people wanting to remain in their homes over time. We also know that many of those homes need some modifications to make them safer and more enjoyable for those who live in them.

One of our challenges is keeping consumers from being unduly influenced by articles and news releases that scare them into thinking that the work needed to enhance their living space is too expensive and too intense for them to consider. As a result, they are inclined to do nothing or they end up moving - both contrary to the objective we seek.

The articles are probably not intended to be scary but they illustrate improvements that may not be necessary or advisable for many people. Also, they present budgets that are out of context. Telling people that they need to plan on spending up to $40,000 for a bathroom remodel - without ever seeing what they have now, the relative condition and age of it, what they require in terms of a viable space, and what their physical needs are - is both unrealistic and irresponsible.

Remember that we want to refrain from giving high estimates when we don't know exactly what needs to be done. This is precisely what is being done in these articles that are becoming more prevalent online and in-print. While the thought might be that people want an indication of what a remodel might entail, a large 5-figure number will do nothing but frighten them into inaction unless they are living in a large, fairly expensive home already and have a significant income or savings account.

While it is true that a $40,000 or more investment when compared to upwards of $100,000 annually to move into a retirement center or nursing home is a bargain, it still has to be framed properly and make sense. Just presented as a supposedly authoritative number that someone might spend on a renovation is a major disconnect with consumers that need our services and have a more modest budget in mind (if they have even given any thought about what something might cost). They might only need to spend a tenth of that. We'd have to evaluate each case to determine what is needed and how extensive it is.

Seeing big numbers like this is a little like someone reading that they need to plan on spending $30,000 for a new car. Do new cars run this much? Yes, and even more. Can a new car be obtained for less? Yes to that also. How about a well-maintained used car? Even less. So, that number means nothing until we know what our customers want to achieve and actually need - in purchasing a car or in contemplating a renovation.

The real danger is not in telling someone that a potential renovation might cost that much - when it really could, based on our assessment and evaluation - it's that there is no way for someone to make intelligent plans for their future well-being based on a number just floated out there without any context.

When consumers who need our services, but may be quite budget-conscious about undertaking them, read that a large expenditure might be required - without ever comparing or relating that number to what they actually need or require - they may just shut down and determine not to make any changes - or to even make the effort to reach out to us to learn what really will help them and for how much. They rationalize that they can't afford to do anything and that they have been managing OK so far.

Consumers have a lot to process when it comes to changes they might need or require and then who to use to make it happen and how to pay for it. There might be some price reluctance, and when there is, we need to know how to shift gears and get the absolute minimum done with people. We can't let price be a reason for people coping with unsafe or unhealthy conditions.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging in place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Friday, December 8, 2017

"Getting Referrals Is A Great Way To Expand Our Business"

There are several ways to generate new business. We can advertise - clearly the most expensive way to meet potential clients. We can post content on social media, blog, or have a website at a very modest to essentially no cost. We can get referrals - the most effective way to get new business. Referrals cost us nothing except the time it takes to request them, receive them, or cultivate them.

When we do a good job creating a solution for a client, and they like what we did, they may be inclined to tell others about our work or to mention us favorably when friends of theirs see and comment on the work they had done. Getting referrals is a great - and inexpensive - way to expand and grow our business.

Nevertheless, referrals aren't automatic just because we do a good job for someone. We generally will get referrals, but we have to be patient for them. They actually are available to us in two ways - direct and indirect - and may be voluntary, requested, or incidental.

Direct referrals are those that our satisfied clients and customers tell us in our presence - either while we are completing the work in their home or when they see us again later. They mention how satisfied they are with the work we did and that they have someone else we should talk with about helping them.

They may give us permission to contact the people they are suggesting and use their name as an introduction, they may give our name to their friend or neighbor for them to contact us, or they may agree to invite a few of their close friends over for a reveal of the work done so that we can make a presentation.

If the names of people for us to contact are not volunteered, but there is an expression of satisfaction with the work we performed, we can directly ask for the names of people to contact. Give them an index card with two or three numbers on it. Then ask them to provide the names and phone numbers of two or three of their friends who might be interested in hearing from us to discuss a similar solution in their home. They might provide the two or three that we are requesting, or they may able to come up with just one name. Either way, we are leaving with someone that we can contact. If we just ask them who they know that might be considering work like we did for them, it is too easy for them to reply that they can't think of anyone - even though they probably could if they tried a little harder.

There also will be the indirect or incidental referral. It's just as important as those directly received or requested referral, but an indirect one can come at any time and from any direction - from a current client or one where the work was done months ago. It can be from someone they told about the work that they never relayed to us.

We know that we will get a certain amount of indirect referrals because people like to talk about good service they received. However, unlike referrals that we receive directly from our clients and customers, we won't know specifically who will be contacting us, when that might be, what they will need done, or how many people might be reaching out to us in this way. We just know that we will get some of these throughout the year.

Nevertheless, referrals are a fantastic source of new business. They typically are qualified because of their relationship with our client or customer and the fact that they wouldn't talk with us without some degree of interest in having work done. The biggest plus is that they are free to generate. We already have done work for the source of the referral.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging in place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

"'Older Driver Safety Awareness Week' Going On Now"

Who doesn't remember turning 16 and getting their driver's license - whether on the first attempt or with subsequent tries? Prior to that, getting our driver's license was all we thought about for several months prior to be eligible to get a learner's permit. We couldn't wait to sit behind the wheel to practice driving for real.

For most people, getting a driver's license is a rite of passage that signifies coming of age. It's a mark of independence - even when someone doesn't have a vehicle to drive immediately upon getting their license or for someone who normally uses public transportation. Knowing that we have the ability to drive someplace of our choice without being dependent on others to take us there - even with a rental car - is empowering.

The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) sponsors the "Older Driver Safety Awareness Week" annually in December, and this is the week for it this year. It began Monday and runs through tomorrow (December 4-8).


The timing for the annual observance coincides with the time of year when families often come together for the holidays, and the AOTA believes that one of the first steps in addressing older driver safety is having a nonthreatening conversation with our loved ones.

The emphasis really is two-fold: (1) recognizing that physical, cognitive, and sensory changes can be occurring that can adversely affect a person's ability to be behind the wheel of a car and operate it safely, and (2) helping older drivers who are able to drive safely to be aware of how aging issues might affect their abilities and how to keep themselves, their passengers, and other drivers safe and free of incidents. Driver's education with a focus on safety never goes out of style.


However, when an older driver discovers the need to make adjustments to drive safely or when they (or a family member) determines that they can no longer do so, families and friends can help them take these changes in stride. Ceasing to drive because age has limited our ability to behave in a safe and responsible manner behind the wheel of a vehicle, is a natural occurrence - just as obtaining the driver's license was decades earlier. It doesn't have to be presented as a threat to the older driver's independence. It is just a lifestyle change that happens sooner or later to most people.

With increasing age come challenges in a person's continued ability to drive safely, but the real need is a broader awareness of the solutions, rather than a narrow focus on the problem. Each person is different, and vision, reflexes, response time, and other abilities are key to such a decision of ceasing to drive.

As aging in place specialists, we should be aware of that this occurs with advancing years and watch for signs that an intervention may be wise. Depending on our area of expertise and training, we may not be able to counsel a family and an elderly driver as well as an occupational therapist can. We need to rely on this resource to help keep our clients - and the general public that might be sharing the roadways with them - safe. Life goes on, even when driving for oneself is no longer a part of it.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging in place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.