A lot of tourists may not think of themselves as such, as they either lived here in the past, or have family here they visit…or both. In our county, we have a lot of folks who live here without any family in the vicinity — hence the visits.
As a matter of fact, a few years ago I was speaking to a group of about 30 retired professionals and when I asked how many had family in the area, not one hand went up. I knew the dynamic of living in a small community with limited opportunities, but it was still surprising.
These family get-togethers are a time for checking in, reminiscing — and doing tourist things, like going to the beach, seeing what’s changed and so on. It may also be a time for looking around Mom/Dad’s place while you’re talking about back when.
How are things going? Chances are, the folks are doing OK, and even though getting older (as we all are) they seem to be alright. Some things we just glide over without thinking about — like the overall environment.
Are there steps going to the door? Handrails? How are they holding up? A lot of homes in our area have been around for a very, very long time, and wooden steps have a tendency to age (again, just like we do!). Are they stable? Were they pretty steep when built and now create a bit more difficulty?
What about the deck or porch? And this is just the outside…Does it seems like the folks are doing a little more furniture and wall-walking than they used to? Some professionals refer to this as “using environmental supports” for balance, but I prefer the more picturesque terms. Railings aren’t just for outside.
How about the bathroom? Falls there are rarely safe as the few items in there aren’t usually very soft. If the sink is near the toilet, is it stable? (Sometimes using the sink as a support for getting up and down loosens the supports.) How about safety bars around or beside the toilet? Or even a raised seat so it’s not so far to get up and down?
The bedroom? Even if you don’t go into it, you can tell by how the folks get up from low chairs, or the sofa that they may also benefit from some grab-bars or transfer poles there. And speaking chairs — would a lift chair help?
Loose throw rugs? Electric cords across thresholds? There can be a myriad of things that just simply make things better. Most of the time, listing what could help is easier than broaching the subject with the folks.
Coming in like the cavalry and telling them what “needs to be done” usually accomplishes little — except perhaps to make them wonder how long you’re going to stay.
It takes conversation — talking and listening; and “What do you think about..?” goes a lot further than “You have to..”
So, enjoy the visit, keep your eyes open and know that there are options for folks that can make things easier..and “easier” is sometimes more digestible than talking about “safety”. Just a suggestion..
Information & Assistance: Raymond: 942-2177, 888-571-6557, www.o3a.org.