There is one underlying aspect to providing aging in place services and serving people in any of the three main marketing groups (those without urgent needs, those with progressive condition needs, and people with traumatic change needs), and that is safety.
While people have varying needs from not requiring anything particularly urgent or pressing to issues needing immediate attention. Whatever we suggest for the people we choose to serve, and however we choose to approach serving them, they deserve to use their home in a safe manner.
Being safe at home can have two meanings and apply in two different ways – feeling safe from intruders and being relatively safe from injury in the home. While the first certainly is important, let’s focus on the second case.
To be reasonably safe in one’s home is to be able to enter without concern of tripping over anything along the way, stumbling over broken or incomplete walkways, stepping over or around objects that might be in one’s direct path, and being able to see the complete walkway or path without anything blocking or interfering with that view.
Once at the front door, people need to feel that they can enter their home without hurrying to get out of the weather or because the stoop or porch footing seems loose or unsure. They also need to be able to unlock or unsecure their entry door quickly, easily, and without difficulty.
After moving inside, a person needs enough light already on (motion activated switches or timers) or an easy-to-access light control to activate to see well enough to remain safe as they begin to move about the interior. They need to have freedom of movement without the concern of falling, tripping, running into items, or otherwise being injured.
In addition to having sufficient lighting as one comes into their home (as well around the front door so they can see that no one is hiding in wait for them), lighting plays a very large safety role. Proper lighting illuminates all areas of the home so that nothing that is on the floor or protruding from a shelf, a piece of furniture out of place, or anything else that is not where it normally is can be an issue for tripping over it or running into it.
Good lighting allows people to read instructions before mixing ingredients, cooking items that come in a package, using medications, applying pesticides, or using cleaning supplies or anything else where directions must be followed to achieve the desired outcome and remain safe. It helps avoid accidental injuries when retrieving items from cupboards or shelves also.
Adequate lighting also promotes a feeling of well-being in the hope, and that happy mood relates to personal safety.
Another aspect of safety is flooring – people need to feel that they are not at risk of falling on weak flooring surfaces or those that can create a tripping issue. Poor balance can accentuate a flooring weakness and cause people to slip or fall. Clearly, this is not keeping people in their homes. When more than one type of flooring or those of varying thicknesses are used – especially when there is a threshold of some type between two surfaces or types of flooring – people can misjudge their footing and step or stumble.
Tripping or falling due to missing a step, planting one’s foot wrong, bumping into something, or just becoming distracted (by glare, window light, or not concentrating on where they were walking) as they are going through the home can lead to falls, cuts, or other injuries. We owe it to our clients to educate them about potential safety issues and to help them make their homes safer place to stay as they age in place.