“Taking Care Of Outside Issues For Effective Aging In Place & Visitability”

A snow-covered landscape is pretty but may be treacherous for visitors to negotiate in getting to the front door

As the temperatures begin to get colder and we have to put on more clothing to go outside, now is a great time for all of us to take advantage of clear conditions while we can – and to encourage our clients to do likewise. In many parts of the country, that first measurable snowfall could happen at any time. There may have been some light snow and several heavy frosty mornings already, but we can still see the ground.

The point is that the year-end holidays are just a couple of weeks from getting started. We (and our clients ) are going to be having neighbors, friends, and family members – and possibly some of their friends also – visiting us. Many of them have not visited in a while, and some may be visiting for the first time. For others, they may be rather unfamiliar with the property even though they this is not their first visit. It could look different than they remember it, or we could have made some landscaping or other visual changes since their last visit. Their mobility or vision could be different also – a potentially huge consideration.

We need to go around our front yard first – and then the rest of the property, weather and time permitting – and pick up loose objects that may have been left out after a previous project or were partially concealed by the grass during the growing season. We should do this first to get an idea of what types of obstacles we might encounter and then be in a position to advise our clients about how to proceed with the work. They may even want us to find someone for them that they can pay to do the work – or we could provide the service through our company.

It’s one thing to walk around in our yard now and see a garden hose, a tool (rake, hoe, or shovel), a sprinkler, barbecue accessories, pieces of outdoor games, and so many other things that we had been meaning to pick up but just hadn’t. Since we likely aren’t cutting the grass at all or very often, these items on the ground are less noticeable or bothersome. Add a couple of inches of snow on top of them and see how noticeable there are then. That’s the point. They can become hidden dangers that someone can unknowingly step on or trip over because they could not see them.

Sometimes, the walkways, pathways, steps, or landings themselves are the issues. They present issues now on dry days, but they can become hard to use during rainy weather and quite risky when slickened with ice or hidden under snowfall. Take tree roots that have invaded sidewalks and push up the pavement – cracking it or just making it uneven. The walkway surface can crack with normal settling that occurs. Grass and weeds can grow in the spaces between the various sections. Again, these footing issues are problematic enough on dry days when people can see where they are stepping, but on days when moisture or an accumulation of snow makes them hard to recognize or determine that there are cracks or unevenness in them, the person using them may be at risk.

Many people like to decorate their homes for the holidays so there could be outdoor displays and lighting – often in large quantities. These lights need to be powered, so there are going to be extension cords running to them and then wires running between each light, As long a people don’t get very close to them, there should be no issue. However, as people close in to get a better look at how things are arranged, it would be easy to become entangled in some of the wires – with a higher probability of this happening is they are buried in snow.

Compounding the fact that there could be hard to see, buried, or camouflaged items or issues that a visitor might have to deal with that they weren’t expecting, people visiting at this time of year are wearing heavier clothing so their movements are going to be a little more restricted and less fluid that they would be in the spring or summer. These heavier and thicker garments could affect their sense of balance as well.

Whether it’s our home, our neighbor’s, or a client’s home that people are visiting this season, they will be coming at a festive time and for a happy reason. Let’s make sure that their visits are not spoiled by a trip, fall, or other types of mishaps that might occur from encountering something that is not visible to them.

Share with your friend and colleagues!