Many Of Us Have Aged In Place Along With Waldo

“Where’s Waldo,” the picture book, has been captivating many of us for a third of a decade, and it has great lessons and takeaways for our aging in place observations and the way we approach them.

Many of us like visual puzzles

Some 35 years ago, someone created a series of visual quizzes for us called “Where’s Wally?” or “Where’s Waldo?” depending on where we live. Residents of some 50 different countries participated in this game firsthand, and likely many more did so on a secondhand basis.

Visual games are good for us to test, challenge, and refine our powers of observation and discernment. For those of us conducting aging in place safety and access evaluations, a challenge such as that offered by Waldo or Wally is great practice

Hiding in plain sight

The puzzles are not difficult on their face. Waldo or Wally is right there in front of us the entire time – hiding or concealed in plain sight. All we have to do is find him. Not always so simple.

Whether we offer or plan to make available standalone assessments, audits, or evaluations of someone’s living space to accommodate their aging in place needs, we need to begin by observing what we encounter.

Things aren’t always as they seem

We can look at a photo of a room layout or experience a home in person and what appears to be well-done, attractive, or beyond critique may not hold up to closer scrutiny. Sometimes there are several issues hidden beyond the pretty initial impression. Sometimes there are just a few minor details.

So, we approach a safety assessment from a much more clinical standpoint where we are looking for clues or signs that something exists in a way that is potentially not safe for our clients or anyone that they might be visiting them.

It’s not always on the inside either. There are plenty of places on the exterior of a home that can present safety challenges and issues – driveways, walks, steps, stoops, yards, decks, patios, and more.

Conducting an evaluation like a Waldo picture

Everyone who has searched for Waldo likely has their own technique – looking at the entire picture and taking it in, going from corner-to-corner, edge-to-edge, top-to-bottom, or doing an area search. Sometimes, we overlook Waldo the first time we see him because we weren’t ready to notice him.< Think of walking into a home and seeing how attractive it is or how much it might need of attention. As we take a good hard look around, attempting to spot the elusive Waldo, we find safety, comfort, convenience, and general usage issues that we will want to call to the attention of the homeowner. There is no shortage of places to look for potential hazards in a home. Some will be obvious, while others will be more subtle or hidden from immediate view or detection – again think of Waldo.

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