Reading Glasses to Skin the Cat

by Louis on August 7, 2012

I often talk in metaphors. Lately I have been talking about the cheap reading glasses I get at the drug store. They help me describe the complexity of aging issues and solutions.

I need the glasses to read when the light is low, when the type is small and when the contrast is poor. I don’t really need them when the light is bright, the type is large or the contrast is good.

So the need for the tool– the glasses- is based on multiple factors including the environment, other tools at my disposal and my personal condition.

The situation is similar for independent living.

  • If there are no stairs you can get into your home even if you can’t climb stairs…
  • and if you can climb stairs but are a bit unsteady then good railings can solve the problem.
  • If you have grips in the bathroom you may be safe showering independently
  •  but if the bathroom has glass doors that are hard to negotiate and too little room for easy maneuvering you may not be able to shower
  • If grips are unavailable, assistance can help you feel comfortable getting clean.
  • Maneuvering space keep caregivers safe, tight spaces put both people at risk.
  • folks who have trouble hearing use hearing enhancers- individual hearing aids, room systems and loops to listen
  • close captioning and signing are other solutions
  • a rolling cart can help you set the table if you can’t walk far or with your hands full- many rollators have a tray for this reason


This discussion is a version of the new paradigm of disability recognizing that disability is a function of the relationship between the individual and the available tools and environmental conditions. Contrast that to the traditional view that disability is a condition of the individual’s physical conditions. Brandt and Pope explained this view in their book Enabling America.

There are many ways to skin the cat, solve the problem, overcome difficulties. Personal resources, money, community investments can all play a role. Deciding a strategy and making the investment before crisis are critical to using tools effectively.



{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Aaron D. Murphy August 7, 2012 at 10:41 pm

Great points as usual sir! FYI, we love your “analogies”! 🙂


Neil P. Ryder August 18, 2012 at 8:42 am
Unbelievably cheap prescription glasses. My $295 prescription reading glasses cost $23.95 shipped. I have a pair everywhere; they break, I throw them away


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