“The Visitability Aspect Of Aging In Place Takes Center Stage This Time Of Year”

Snow and ice can complicate the approach to a home during the holidays by narrowing walkways and making footing slipperier than usual

There are many times throughout the year when people like to get together with friends and celebrate a holiday or special occasion. It can be a fun occasion like St. Patrick’s Day or Halloween, a family day like Thanksgiving, or something seasonal like the first barbecue of the summer (or the last one) or the initial pool party of the season. Summer holidays like Independence Day and Labor Day will do. It also can have something to do with sports like a big race (auto or horses), the opening day of the baseball season, the start of college or professional football (or other seasonal sports), March Madness, All-Star games (pick a sport), the World Series, or the Super Bowl.

We’ve come to that time of year when people like to visit each other to celebrate the holidays and welcome in the new year. This heightens our awareness of how important it is to have a home that is visitable and easily used – regardless of which home we are discussing or who is doing the entertaining and who is doing the visiting.

For the rest of the year and into the first weekend of the new year, people are going to be visiting their friends. relatives, and neighbors to convey their holiday wishes to each other and celebrate in each other’s company. However, those homes may not be that welcoming for them. They may face some challenges that they weren’t expecting in visiting a particular home and that the owners of the homes being visited hadn’t thought about or considered either.

We’re not suggesting that people won’t be received well when they show up at a friend’s home in terms of the host’s friendliness or hospitality. Nevertheless, people may not feel at ease or entirely welcome when they arrive from an access standpoint. Possibly they haven’t visited this home in a while and don’t remember some of the challenges of entering, or they last visited in warmer weather when ice and snow weren’t a concern.

The issue of visitability, or how well someone can approach a person’s home, enter it and feel comfortable and welcome once inside, is something that many homeowners (and in this case the hosts of the gathering) realize – too late – that they do not have. As a result, many people who have mobility issues or use some type of mobility assistance often find it challenging to visit a friend. It could be a recent change in someone’s mobility that the host of the get-together was unaware of or had forgotten.

It’s obviously too late now to do anything but simple accessibility fixes – ramps and additional or temporary lighting, for instance – but not too early to make sure any shortcomings that are experienced or noticed this season are given top priority for treatment early in the new year.

That’s where we come into the picture. There are so many homes that can benefit from improvements to how people get to the front door, the general entrance to the home itself, and safety considerations (lighting, a covering at the entry, and solid footing, for example). There really isn’t any time remaining this year to begin and complete any helpful projects – especially with potentially very cold and snowy conditions or disruptions that might go along with any improvements as they are undertaken – but we can get started talking with people about such needs and take it from there.

If people have been aware that their homes weren’t that visitable outside (and quite likely on the inside either especially in terms of doorway and hallway widths) but they haven’t done anything about it, this is the perfect time to help them see what needs to be done to have a safer, more inviting home where they can receive their friends, neighbors, and relatives and enjoy their company.

For those who have never considered that their homes may not be visitable for either themselves or their guests, we have a great opportunity to have a discussion with them as the new year begins by reflecting on how people that visited them during the upcoming holidays were received and if any impromptu accommodations had to be made for people to feel more comfortable and welcome.

We want people to be able to visit each other’s homes without stopping to think or consider that it may be a challenge. They’ll know that it has been modified to provide a safe and easy entry for anyone. This is something we can focus on providing for our clients (existing ones and ones we will attract in the new year) and a great way to grow our businesses.

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