A Home that Works for Everyone, Tip 2 of 4 – Protect It If You Don’t Expect It


The invisible dish

Last month I put a small cream–colored dish down on a white radiator cover. A few days later I swept my hand along the radiator cover – I can’t think why – and banged into the dish. It wasn’t on a tray or a shelf; it didn’t have high contrast with its background. It was unprotected and in an unexpected place. It hit the floor and shattered. I felt shocked and sad and stupid. Not that the dish was valuable, but it held memories and had a place in my life.

Scanning is what sight does  – no thought necessary

People who see well use their eyes to scan the table (or radiator cover). They see the dish and avoid it without a thought.  No one remembers that the little dish, the mug or glass may be invisible or only a glint to someone with vision loss. And we – who know that many things are invisible now – forget it too.


Teach yourself, then teach the family or helper 

So step 1 is to teach ourselves. We have to learn that anything breakable left in an unexpected place is in danger. Then we have to help our families or roommates learn it too. Good habits of “don’t put it down, put it away” take time to establish because the comfortable old ways are much easier. But as breakages and distress add up, we will all learn. Here’s one way I have worked on at home and with lots of clients at the Carroll Center.


Use a visual aid – a bright-colored dishpan or tray

Put an orange tray or red dishpan next to the sink or in some other prominent place. If bright colors don’t suit your home, choose a color with high contrast to the countertop and the mugs and plates – black maybe.   This will help everyone remember to put glasses, mugs and plates onto it after a snack. Of course if the glasses and plates go straight into the dishwasher, that’s even better. But something bold and bright helps everyone remember. This is about good organization, not just vision loss.


Talking Tip  

Keep it simple, cheerful and confident as much as you can. You could try something like this.

“Here’s a red dishpan. Can we put dishes into it when we’ve used them, so they’re safe?”


have to be a leader in keeping your home organized.

Good organization benefits everyone. You can be safe and move freely in a well-organized home. And it will become fully your home again.


What’s your tip for preventing breakages at home? Put it in the Comment Box below and help the rest of us.

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