One of the things i find most challenging is long periods home alone. The pressure too keep safe isn’t high, but it is constant and consumes lots of energy.
To try and make my home a little less complex, we have been trying three different experiments. We have been simplfying my home, compartmentalising risks, and adding passive support.
This is a quick post exploring how each experiment is going.
My flat needs to work for me every day. Even when i am muddled up. Simplifying the environment so there is less to remember is one of the ways we can make it more flexible as my needs change. We have added signage and prompts to my flat to try and make it easier to known what I need to do.
Bathrooms and kitchens seem to have the most demands. So we started there.
The results so far have been pretty positive. I dont refer to them all the time, but when i do they work great. They are very reassuring that if i am super muddled up, i have something to help me get things done.
When i am home alone i am either in my bedroom or the office. In my flat they are down the corridor from the main bathroom, the kitchen and the lounge.
While i am only using two rooms, my brain is thinking about all of the rooms. Wondering if i left a tap on, or the fridge open etc etc.
With this in mind, we added a physical divider in the middle of my flat. An old child gate with some wooden shims to fit the hallway. Before i start working etc, i go around the far end of the flat checking all is well, and then close the gate. Once the gate is closed i know the far end of the flat has been checked and my brain can stop wondering about it.
In a way, i am trying to turn my flat into two discreet compartments. Only thinking about them one at a time.
This expeirment is ongoing and it does seem to work. It’s not been perfect. Some days it seems to be more impactful that others. However, overall it seems pretty positive.
Passive support is what we call support which isnt based on people being in my flat. Systems which i can use to access support only if it’s needed.
For example, i have three types of passive support:
These passive support system have been an experiment for a while. They have been pretty positive.
The smoke alarms are great. They notify people about the state of my flat in a way i could not. It’s very reassuring. Occasionally they go off by accident, and i get a message from friends to check all is well. It’s effective even if its never used.
The telecare alarm took ages to setup, but it also works very well. I have a few different buttons around the flat. I hope i never need it, but having it there is very useful. Unlike my phone which depends on either manual dexterity or speech, the telecare alarms “just works”. The buttons are big and normally close by.
The structural approach is our fallback option. We structure support so i always know when i will next see someone. Its a simple approach, but it has worked pretty well to make my flat feel less isolated and demanding.
Being home alone is still very tricky. We haven’t really “fixed” the issue, but these are all steps in the right direction. In many ways, my entire home is one big adventures. Even when it goes wrong, we are still learning. We get it right by building on the failures, not by eliminating them.