Wednesday, February 14, 2018

"Getting Ready For Spring Means Accommodating More Visitors"

No time of year is exempt from having visitors drop in - invited or unexpected. During the fall and winter months, it's often for parties, football game watching, or other indoor activities. As our sights turn to spring, people will be coming to help us celebrate the end of another winter and the welcoming of nicer weather. Longer daylight hours aren't far behind either.

With that said, it's time (again) to ask ourselves just how well suited our home (and those of our neighbors and potential clients) will be to receive guests and visitors.

Maybe in previous seasons, everyone that came to our home or those of our neighbors or clients was familiar with the layout and had no serious issues entering or moving about in the home, even if it wasn't totally visitable. They even were able to make it into the backyard (or go around the outside) to join us for the outside festivities. Nevertheless, it might be time to make a few changes.

We may not be able to make all of the changes that would really make our home visitable to our guests, but that doesn't mean that we can't make some of them. This is a case where any improvement is better than having it remain as it is. Simple, and even inexpensive, changes are progress and preferable to leaving things as they are. 

As we evaluate and plan for improvements on our own homes, we can project similar changes onto the homes of clients that we have already worked with but didn't offer these solutions at the time, homes that we currently are looking at helping, and ones that we will be asked to work on in the future.

Regardless of what type of project, home modification, or improvement we have consulted on or been asked to provide for our clients, we should notice where we can factor in a visitability upgrade and do so whenever we can. Visitability never goes out of style.

Whether it's our own home or one that we are working on for a client, we need to begin outside and look at how easy it is for people to get from their car (in the driveway) or the sidewalk (if they park on the street or are walking from a neighboring home) to the front door. Are there challenges or obstacles to overcome - cracks, voids, or spaces in the walkway that interfere with a smooth navigation of it, unevenness in the walking surface that presents challenge for balance or mobility, extreme changes in grade (up, down, or undulating), low spots that collect water or mold, narrow pathways, an excessive cross slope, or steps to be climbed? For any of these conditions that are present, how can they be remedied - effectively and reasonably in terms of materials and budget? 

Once someone gets to the door, are they able to stand under a covering that protects them from precipitation or the hot sun? Is there sufficient room for them to gather awaiting the door to open and then enough space to move safely out of the way of the door as they enter?

Is the entry door wide enough for most people to use successfully - at least a 36" door (three feet)? Double doors that provide a five to six-foot opening are even better when there is sufficient space to accommodate them.

Once inside, there are other key areas to be aware of and address. Starting on the outside is the strategic place to begin, however. Even if the inside of the home can accommodate people as they move about, they have to be able to get to the front door and move through it before that becomes possible.

Visitability is always fashionable so let's conduct a review of what our home offers and make appropriate changes so we can help our clients from a position of strength and experience.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist - Master Instructor and best-selling author of aging in place books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.