Saturday, August 6, 2016

"It's Those Little Things That Can 'Trip' Us Up"

Sometimes it's the really big things that attract our attention and demand that we deal with them - the proverbial elephant in the room. Some items are in such disarray, poor repair, or in need of attention - a leaky roof, a floor that gives under our feat when we step on it, or a broken window that fails to keep out the temperature or elements, for instance - that we cannot ignore them.

But there are little things that require attention also. Not everything is a major item. Not everything is even an obvious issue - although it nevertheless is deserving of treatment.

This is what we need to be aware of so we can address and fix them before they lead to other, more serious issues and concerns.

A few things come to mind when we talk about minor issues, or those not that serious at present. There again, it depends on the perspective. Some people are going to give them a pass and not recognize them as being anything to concerned about at all. Others are going to view them far more seriously. The main area of focus is safety.


Take a rough or high transition between rooms of where type or thickness of flooring stops and a different flooring type begins. Usually, there is some type of a molding strip to cover the seam, but this - while smooth or beveled - does not allow the flooring to move smoothly from one area to the next because it simply can't. Anyone walking along could catch a toe or heel on the transition strip and stumble. A walker, cart, or other wheeled device might catch at the transition and require a little effort to pass over it.

Often, a dining or eating table and accompanying chairs are either in the pathway that one might take when going between rooms or very close to the landing when coming down a flight of stairs. This does not allow for free passage around the table and chairs and could cause someone to run into them or potentially trip on them. A smaller dining set or one located away from the passageway would be a better idea when space allows. When ample space is not available, other furnishings for that room should be selected.

Doors that open into a passageway that might have someone else in the home occupying that space as the door is being opened could cause an injury or at the very least a collision. Often several doorways open into a space so that there is undue congestion in this area. The can create bottlenecks and hinder freedom of movement in the home.

It might be glare that is created from a picture frame, mirror, highly polished hard surface floor, or a shiny countertop that - depending on the natural light that might be striking it or overhead or area artificial light reflecting off it - create depth perception issues for people attempting to use that space comfortably. People in the home with vision or cognitive issues may find the unintentional shadows cast by reflections, the uneven lighting intensity, or the brilliance or the reflections to cause difficulties in their balance or mobility.

There are more such minor, unintentional issues that exist in a home that once we become aware of them we can begin to eliminate or modify so that they no longer present issues for the residents of the home. This will provide greater safety and more comfort for them.


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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.