Is Your Holiday Home Ready for Senior Visitors?
Christmas, Hanukkah, and the holidays are wonderful times to gather with friends and family. For many seniors, it is a time they look forward to all year long—a time when they can spend time with their family and see members who are difficult to connect with. Life is busy and full of pressures and family can often be spread near and far. So, coming together for the holidays and enjoying each other’s company is a true gift.
It’s very important to make sure that that time together is not marred by accident or injury. It’s easy for those of us without mobility and health issues to take it for granted that our homes are safe, but if you look at it from the point of view of your beloved elder friends and family, is your home as safe and welcoming as it could be?
Following are several tips to make your home safer and more welcoming for seniors who might be coming to visit or stay this holiday season.
Tips to Make Your Home Safer for Seniors During the Holidays
Look for trip hazards.
Things like areas rugs and door mats can be trip hazards for elders with limited mobility or who use devices to assist them when walking and ambulating. Watch for anything that can catch up a senior using a cane or walker.
Also keep an eye out as gifts get opened, kids play, and things get dropped. What might be easy for you to step over could be a real risk to your senior.
Make sure outdoor walks are clean and clear.
Be sure to keep outdoor walks, pathways, steps, entryways, and driveways clear of slip and fall hazards like ice and snow. Have ice melt and sand or grit on hand for the slick spots that can’t be cleared or shoveled away.
Provide an escort.
Assign someone to keep an eye out when your elderly visitors arrive and depart. Have them go out to escort them safely inside. Aks them to help them navigate steps and stairs as needed.
Make sure decorations don’t block paths, walkways, and railings.
The size and abundance of decorations we use during the holidays often means that the normal flow and arrangement of the home can be disrupted. It can also be narrowed and become somewhat cluttered, too. Keep this in mind as you decorate if you will be celebrating with seniors who may not be as steady as they once were.
Be sure that railings are clear and accessible for support. Make sure there is a clear, wide path to and from your house and throughout inside.
Keep doorways wide and clear.
Similarly, make sure that doorways are not narrowed or blocked, in whole or in part, by gifts, decorations, or extra boots, shoes, and clothing. This is especially important if your senior guest or loved one uses a wheelchair or a device like a walker or cane. Thes items will need extra clearance and space to maneuver. Make sure the walkways and space in your home are clear for them.
The average walker is 24 or more inches wide but requires more clearance to safely move through a doorway. It is recommended that wheelchairs have at least 32 inches to maneuver through doorways. While you obviously cannot renovate your home to accommodate these things for a brief visit, at least be mindful and have a plan for helping your senior guests safely move through the home if their devices cannot fit easily through doorways.
Also, it is very important to keep this in mind when you plan what will take place where. For example, don’t plan to hold dinner in a room that your senior guest cannot reach. The last thing you want to do is exclude your guest or loved one from a group and leave them feeling left out and lonely.
Light up the night.
Keep in mind that elders may have a harder time seeing in dim or dark spaces. For safety’s sake, make sure that all outdoor walkways and entrances are well lit.
If you have older overnight guests, use nightlights in hallways and bathrooms so they can safely access bathrooms during the night. Consider leaving a light on in the bathroom or kitchen so they won’t have to search for switches in the dark.
Plan sleeping arrangements accordingly.
For those overnight guests, try to provide sleeping accommodations on the first floor, particularly if ambulation is an issue. Also keep in mind that seniors often need to use bathroom facilities at night, so try to give them a room close to a bathroom. And be sure the way is lighted as noted above.
Holiday travel and festivities can be tiring for us all, but for seniors even more so. If you can also find them a space that will be free during the day, preferably away from the bustle and noise, that is even better. Then, when they feel the need to take a break or enjoy a seasonal siesta, they’ll have a quiet place to retire to.
Care, Consideration, and Planning are Meaningful Gifts, Too
Your care and attention will go very far to help your senior guests and family feel welcome and included. With some planning and consideration, it may be so seamless as to go unnoticed. That is as it should be, to the best of your ability.
An easy stay or visit to your home will make the seniors you love feel as if they are a part of the group, not a burden or exclusion. Do your best to make it a safe, happy holiday for everyone in your home this holiday season.
Private Home Care Services is a home care agency with a heart. The wellbeing of the whole individual drives the care that PHCS caregivers provide, supported by an administering body of directors and support personnel. At PHCS, we tailor services to fit the needs of the individual and family support persons. For a personal touch from a company that cares, contact Private Home Care Services. Serving all of Massachusetts and surrounding states to provide personal, quality elder care services and home care services for people of all ages experiencing injury or illness.