Monday, December 12, 2016

"Finding The Hidden Obstacles In Our Homes"

We might remember as a child - or with our own children or grandchildren - reading issues of "Highlights" magazines with the hidden objects in the pictures where we had to figure out where a well-known object or person was disguised or hidden in the context of the picture. Sometimes it was inverted or at an angle. Sometimes it was straightforward but hidden because the drawing camouflaged it.

"Where's Waldo?" is a similar visual puzzle where we have to search for an obvious Waldo that is well hidden among colorful distractions and look-alikes.

In a similar way, there are many obstacles in and about our homes that are plaguing us but well hidden or disguised from view. The challenge is find and eliminate them before they find us and potential cause harm or injury.

Even though our homes are supposed to represent safety to us - especially when contrasted to the harsh outside word - the fact is that our homes present numerous dangers and risks to us.

It would be great to think that once we returned home from work, shopping, or play each day, that we would be coming home to our fortress, our sanctuary. It represents safety in a way that it is familiar and that it is ours - whether we own it or rent it. It's just that it isn't near as safe as we would like or want to believe that it is.

So, what are some of those hidden objects that we should be looking for so we can find and neutralize them before anything happens to us that we would not want to occur?

Let's begin outside in the front yard or the area in front of our home or apartment. There could be objects (yard tools such as rakes, shovels, and trimmers or hoses and sprinklers) hidden in the grass. There could be broken or uneven pavers, bricks, stepping stones, or sidewalks that could trip us. Maybe we left something laying on the sidewalk or driveway that we forgot about - until we ran into it or over it with the car, stepped on it, or tripped over it. The doorway, porch, or entry could be cluttered as well. 

Once inside, do we see objects that we have to steps around because they are in our path? Maybe some papers that we haven't finished sorting or tossing that are stacked on the floor. There could be some loose flooring or some slippery areas. Possibly there are some areas that reflect the light in unusual ways and creates glare that makes it hard to see or tell where we are walking.

Our closets could be holding any number of dangers and surprises for us - objects ready to fall or stick us when we open the door or reach it to get something. Maybe we have to reach a shelf above our heads and possibly knock something down on top of us.

Our dressers could be holding the same type of surprises and challenges for us.

This is before we ever get to the kitchen or bath - places in the home where most of the accidents and injuries occur. There are potential slips, falls, cuts, burns, and other dangers waiting for us in those two areas.

It's no wonder that we find safety so elusive in a place where it should be so readily available - our homes.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, C,E,A,C, 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.