“Making Assumptions For Aging In Place Solutions Can Be Risky”

After careful review and analysis of what we are observing in the client’s space and receiving their input on what is important and necessary for them to have, we can create an appropriate needs-based response.


Assumptions can be misleading

Sometimes we don’t have enough information on which to base our decision, but we go ahead anyway by assuming the conclusion. Sometimes, we are relying on what we think might happen next rather than waiting to see what does and making an assumption as to the likely outcome.

From any number of viewpoints involving many different topics, we know that making assumptions can often be quite risky. We can base our conclusions on what we think will happen or what is likely to happen based on earlier observed experiences or typical outcomes. We can assume something will happen because we have witnessed similar results in situations like this in the past. But are they identical, and are there any other influences that might affect the outcome?

This is where making assumptions can be risky as well as misleading. Sometimes assumptions can be expensive because they lead us to do something we later need to correct or fix once we have more information. While we may have the best intentions and the most current data available to analyze or frame what we are witnessing or experiencing, we still might be surprised or fooled by what actually happens.

Incomplete information can alter our conclusions

Sometimes it can be thinking (“assuming”) that two things are alike when they aren’t precisely the same. They may look and act similarly, but they possess different properties and characteristics which affect the ultimate outcome. Therefore assuming what will transpire may lead us to conclude something in error.

Maybe we are only viewing part of the situation but believe that we can project the likely outcome from what we are witnessing.

If our clients are sharing some of their experiences with us, we may decide that we know what they are about to say or what they probably are experiencing based on our own experiences or prior knowledge of similar situations.

Taking too narrow of a viewpoint

When our clients begin to describe their needs or reflect on what they have been experiencing, we can conclude what they need based only on what they are telling us initially – without probing or asking for additional information. What they tell us may be emotionally tainted rather than a clear expression of what they are facing and what will help them.

We can treat everyone the same by looking at their age or the condition of their home and deciding that everyone needs a grab bar in the bathroom, or that they need a higher toilet, or that they require some other feature that may assist people in general but not necessarily the client in front of us.

Even we do recommend a grab bar installation, how large of one do we recommend – they range from 12” to 48” or more. Should it be vertical or horizontal – perhaps diagonal? Where should it be installed? What color tone should it have? Are these based on our actual discussions with the client or on what we assume they need?

Failing to consider the client

If we assume that everyone needs an accessible shower or at least one grab bar or a seat in the shower, what about the person who has more compelling needs for safety and accessibility? Do we ignore them in favor of doing what is a customary approach?

The first rule of aging in place modifications is to consider the needs of the client and meet them – to the extent we can, based on their abilities, home configuration, and budget. Just because we have worked with similar situations in the past does not mean that we should assume that a particular client can be well-served with the same solution as the other instances.

We just can’t assume what the client needs, what they will want, or what they are willing to spend on a solution for any area of their home. We must ask for their input. We can’t be effective without learning what they need or want.

We can assume that people will want a certain solution because it seems that most people do, or that they will select a specific color or style of product because this is the most common choice. However, we really can’t afford to make such assumptions. Either we will have failed to address the total picture, or we will not have understood and embraced the client’s needs and requirements.

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