In less than a month, it will be Christmas Eve, and that means a visit from Santa Claus. The question is what will Santa encounter when he arrives? Are our homes going to be accessible for him – whether he arrives and enters through the front or side door or if he chooses the conventional chimney or fireplace route? It’s not too early to make this assessment to make sure our homes are as ready as can be to accept a visit from him – and anyone else who might be visiting us for the holidays (although they will only be using the doors for entry and not the chimney).
There is still time to make some improvements that will enhance the ability of friends to enter our homes safely and easily, but we must act now. Ideally, this work would already have been completed, but the fact that people are willing to undertake it now is still positive. However, there is little time to waste. Projects must be undertaken at once.
Even if we aren’t really expecting a visit from Santa, we might have a Secret Santa drop by among the guests that are visiting throughout the next few weeks. Are they going to find it easy and safe to come to our front or side door (or possibly enter through the garage) and gain access without any issues?
The underlying question in getting our homes (ours as well as our clients) is how accessible and visitable they are to allow such visits? Santa is certainly not getting any younger, and neither are any of the rest of us. Therefore anything that can be done to make walkways easier and safer to navigate will help – even if we don’t have the time to create a complete improvement.
Of course, we like to think in terms of dry weather, but what if it raining, drizzling, or snowing? What if there is an accumulation on the walkway or driveway (also used as a walkway)? Anything – including lights, decorations, plants (as in poinsettias), or other decorations – that is lining the walkway or steps can infringe upon someone’s ability to use it well.
If Santa or our other guests (those not close enough to walk to our home) are going to visit us, they are likely going to be driving. With that in mind, what type of arrangements – on street on in the driveway – do we have to support more than just a couple of cars at one time?
Are we not expecting a visit from Santa this year? Are we not going to be home for the holidays for our neighbors and friends to visit us because we are going to be away visiting family or friends in our areas? No matter. Our homes still need to be visitable between now and then and for after the season. Santa’s impending or possible visit is a good reason to get started on making our entrances, walkways, steps, stoops, porches, driveways, and other accessways more accessible and visitable. What about the occasional package that will be delivered or the letter carrier? Don’t we want them to be on our property and leave again safely, without any incident – not even a slip on an icy sidewalk?
If we have a scheduled event such as a dinner, holiday cookout, or party, we should have a good idea of who might be visiting us. But what about those impromptu visits? We don’t always know in advance who will be ringing our bell or knocking on our door. That’s the whole reason for visitability – to be ready for anyone, regardless of their age or ability, to stop by and see us – and have an easy time of it.
Santa is a rather large individual and is dressed in a heavy garment that restricts his movements. He may be carrying a large, heavy bag that could affect his vision or his balance. Others may be bringing presents, foodstuffs, or other items to share with us. So, visitability is about creating and maintaining a safe walking area, but it’s also about having a passageway that is not impacted by items that people might be carrying. We don’t want them obstructing their vision, walking into objects, or losing their balance on passageways that are unfamiliar to them.
If we were going to create a 10-point or a 100-point visitability scale or ratio of some type to indicate how safe an entrance, walkway, backyard, and other parts of the home might be – especially the approach to the main entrance – what would those scores look like, and would we be content with them? Is there work to be done?
This is the visitability story for Christmas as we and our clients age in place in our current home.