Thursday, April 7, 2016

"Our Ears Are An Extremely Valuable Assessment Tool Also"

We already looked at how vital our observations are in doing an aging-in-place evaluation or assessment. As we visit the potential client's home and look around us to learn what is going on in the home and with the client and any other occupants of their home - renter or owner - we can form some opinions about what type of improvements and modifications might be necessary or required to make their lives better and more enjoyable in their living environment.

As we walk around their home - inside and out - and make our visual impressions of what exists and what might be missing for an effective lifestyle in that home, we consider the front yard and driveway, exterior of their home, entrance, passageways, and the other aspects of entering and moving about freely within the home.

What we see and witness is a valuable part of our assessment and evaluation process, but what we learn by listening is as important. Thus, we have two very valuable and effective evaluation tools to use for learning about the needs of our clients. In addition to what we see, we need to rely on the questions we can ask and the information revealed by our clients in their responses.

Consider that the listening we do is similar to the photos we take while we are walking around and viewing their property. Their answers to our questions form audible snapshots that we can note and use in our planning as we move forward. Their responses also help us complete our worksheets by indicating areas to emphasize.

Of course, asking questions about what is going on in their lives, what needs to be improved, and what we can do to make their living environments better for them does us little good if we don't intent;y listen for the responses and incorporate them into what we think we need to do to provide modifications and improvements. Otherwise, it's just so many words with little real accomplishment. The client gets shortchanged as well.

So, we ask, we listen - really listen, and we make notes. We compare and relate what we are hearing with what we observe. Then we are in a position to recommend and act.

We want our clients to reveal what really is on their mind. We are interested in learning what really matters to them and how home fails to measure up to what they expect of it or what they need at this moment in their lives. Their home could have been ideal a few months ago or when they moved into it, but now it needs modifications to match their current needs.

They might have sensory challenges that mean that visually they home needs to be friendlier, safer, and more accessible to them. They might need to be able to reach and operate controls and handles more conveniently. They may be encountering balance or coordination issues that create safety concerns. They may have difficulty standing, walking, or moving about in their home.

Some of what we discover may be apparent through our observations, but the more likely story is that this will be revealed to us as we ask and listen for their candid responses. They are seeking help, and we are seeking to provide it.
____________

Steve HoffackerCAPS, MCSP, MIRM, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.