Sunday, May 14, 2017

"How Many Homes Do We Think Could Use A Hug Today?"

On this Mother's Day, an interesting thought about the homes we encounter and work with in our marketplace for aging in place solutions and treatments concerns is the love they are or are not feeling by what we perceive. To that end, how many really just need a hug in the figurative sense?

How many homes do we need to come along side and embrace to show that they are loved and that they can provide many additional years of faithful support and function to their occupants?

As aging in place professionals, we have many challenges to equip people to live successfully in their homes - at any age or ability. Two of the largest ones are the physical requirements of the individuals and the needs of tomes themselves. Let's focus on the homes today.

Beginning on the outside of the home - most any home - the way that someone gets to the front door may be quite challenging. There may be several steps - concrete or wooden - to climb and negotiate. There might be a rather long walk that often is not straight and not level. It can have loose rocks, stepping stones with grass patches (narrow to quite wide) between them, cracks, encroachments by weeds or flowers, loose leaves or twigs making them slippery to walk on, standing water from precipitation or lawn watering, or an undulating run. There might not even be a walk at all.

There could be toys, bikes, yard tools, garden hoses, plants waiting to be put into the ground, and other items that one has to watch out for or walk around as they make their way to the door. Hopefully, a loose dog is not one of the challenges.

Some driveways are hard-surfaced and well maintained. Others are gravel or other surfaces that make walking on them difficult for people with mobility concerns - especially those using a walker, crutches, cane, or wheelchair.

For some homes, approaching them and entering is better done away from the front door because it is not that easy to access. Some doors are reached by standing on narrow stops or small porches that don't provide much protection or leeway when the door (storm door or entrance door) opens toward them. Many have no serious type of weather protection - just a small overhang or covering that does not provide much shielding from the elements.

Lighting is another issue. In the daytime, it may be easy enough to see the entrance and approach it. At night or on very cloudy days, the entrance may be dark and seem less safe. People like to approach and enter a well-light porch and entryway.

Even when the entry is fairly easy to see from the street, often it seems smaller than it is - and many already are smaller than they should be to allow reasonable access. The issue comes when people want to decorate or accessorize the entrance of their home so they place holiday decorations (pumpkins, scarecrows, hay bales, ghosts, spider webs, Santa's, potted plants, furniture and other items on the steps leading to the entrance or right at the entrance door. While this enhances the look of the home, it curtails the usefulness and accessibility of the entrance. Sometimes the pathway is dramatically narrowed, and sometimes it only appears that way visually. Either way, we are sending the wrong message to visitors and guests.

Once inside the home - after making our way through, over, and around the various obstacles, challenges, and issues such as those just mentioned - there are additional issues that need to be worked around and dealt with - depending on the age of the home, the decor, layout, furnishings and accessories, and general condition of the home.

Nevertheless, homes need a hug from us to show them they are loved and to indicate to our potential clients that we care about their living environments and want them to serve their occupants well.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist-Master 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.