Saturday, March 4, 2017

"Getting Ready For More Daylight Hours"

One week from tonight, most of us will turn our clocks ahead an hour for Daylight Savings Time - meaning one less hour of sleep potentially but one more hour of daylight at the end of the day.

This is an exciting time of the year because it means that after a day at the office or a day at the hospital or a day doing assessments and counseling we still have some daylight left over for ourselves. It only gets better over the next three-four months.

More daylight has many positive implications for us and the people we serve. Since daylight is so strongly tied to our mood and not being depressed, our clients should feel relatively happier with it remaining light into the early evening or even close to bedtime. A walk after dinner can be in the daylight. Sitting on the porch and watching the neighborhood can be done in the daylight.

Of course, this means extra attention on our part because the summer daylight is typically stronger and more intense than what we see in the fall and winter. Glare that hasn't been an issue (or much of one) in the past few months may now be something we have to take into account for our clients. The sun is present longer, it is more direct, and it is brighter than what has been the case until now.

Appliance fronts, mirrors, shiny surfaces, and flooring that presented only a little glare and for just a short period of time may now be something that needs to be accounted for in a design recommendation or solution.

These are issues to be aware of and to take into account as we work with our aging in place clients to help them have a safe and enjoyable transition from the shorter wintertime days that have been spent largely indoors to the longer spring and summertime hours that will include much more outdoor time.

Along with being outside more to enjoy gardening, sitting in the warmth of the sun, reading in the fresh air, walking or enjoying even more strenuous activities, the longer daytime hours mean that people typically will be going in and out of their hours more frequently - to take advantage of the outdoors and because maintaining a warm temperature inside during the cold weather is no longer an issue.

As a result of changed behaviors for the next few months, visitability takes on added significance. People are going to be going in and out of their own homes more - and not just the front doors but the back and side doors as well. They need to be safe and relatively step-free. In fact, visitors to them homes may prefer the back or side entrance over the front door because it offers less of a challenge in using it.

We need to help people create visitable secondary entrances. The main entrances are always important, but in these warmer months - and longer daylight hours - that are approaching, friends, neighbors, and our clients themselves are going to be coming and going more frequently through the side and rear doors. These may not be given that much attention during the cooler months but now take on a more prominent role.

There is a lot we can do to help our clients get ready to enjoy a safe spring and summer season. Let's begin planning for that now.


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Steve Hoffacker, CAPS, MCSP, MIRM, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist instructor. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit my website at stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.