For those of us in the sandwich generation, there is nothing more special than watching our elderly parents spend the holidays with our children, their young grandchildren. Having multiple generations together in one household, sitting around the holiday table, reminiscing of times-of-old, and creating new holiday memories, is a priceless experience. The ugly truth, however, according to the National Council on Aging, is that one in four Americans over the age of 65 will fall each year. These falls often lead to an emergency room visit - which is sadly the quickest way to kill the holiday spirit. Avoid this unfortunate scenario by implementing the following 4 tips for creating a safe environment for your elderly loved ones while holiday hosting.
Know Their Limitations
You may be hosting in-laws from out of town for several days, or you may simply be hosting an early-afternoon holiday dinner. Regardless of how long your elderly loved one is present for, make sure you know their limitations. If they want to help cook or set the table, make sure you don’t give them duties that are strenuous and energy-draining. Sure, it’s a blast making holiday cookies with the little ones, but mixing flour and egg to make homemade cookie dough can be exhausting. If your elderly loved ones have been in town for several days, try to schedule downtime the day prior to your big holiday meal so they have plenty of rest. The last thing you want is an accident or fall to occur simply because they were exhausted. Plus, tired grandparents are grumpy grandparents, and that’s no fun.
Proper Lighting and Decluttering
If your elderly loved one is constantly having to walk around laundry on the floor, dodging children’s toys like landmines, and kicking wet doggy toys out of the way, it’s only a matter of time before they trip and fall. Keep the floor clean from clutter and make sure to instruct the little ones to do the same. All competent senior care providers in Pittsburgh train their staff to keep their patients’ rooms and environment very clean for this exact purpose. Also, make sure there is proper lighting, especially around corners and stairways.
Prepare for the Weather
The holidays always occur during late fall and early winter. Unless you live in a warm weather climate such as Arizona, Southern California, or Florida, you most likely are dealing the elements this December. Be sure to shovel and salt your driveway, sidewalk and uncovered patios. The last thing you need is to have to cancel your holiday dinner because grandpa slipped on a sheet of ice while walking up the driveway. Another thing most home owners hardly pay attention to is falling snow. Make sure to clean off excess snow from trees and the gutters. After a big storm, excess snow can easily fall of the gutters or side of the house right onto grandma’s head and knock her right over. Even if she doesn’t hurt herself, a wet and cold grandma is not typically a happy grandma.
Bathroom Safety is Key
According to the National Institute on Aging, 80% of all falls among the elderly occur in the bathroom. The holidays entail a lot of eating and drinking, and consequently, a lot of bathroom usage. Be sure to safeguard your bathroom for grandma and grandpa by either using anti-slip mats or thick rugs. If your elderly loved ones are spending the night at your house then they are most likely going to use the shower. In that case, you might want to install shower grab bars, or, at the very least, buy a shower stool. Both are cheap and simple ways to avoid a slip in the slick, wet bathtub.
Between running around from store to store, fighting through holiday shopping crowds, standing in absurdly longs lines, and hours of cooking and cleaning in preparation to host a delicious meal, we know the holidays, while often the most rewarding time of year, can also be the most stressful. Although taking the extra steps to making your home more “senior-friendly” adds an extra layer of work to your plate, it certainly is one of the most important things you can do. Nothing kills the holiday spirit and potential special memories faster than an accident involving grandma or grandpa. We hope the list above gives you a good point of reference on simple ways to minimize the risk of a fall or accident by your elderly loved ones. Wishing you all a safe and happy holidays!
Article written by Alex Milzer with Senior Directory, LLC
Harmony is founded with a single focus in mind: providing compassionate home care and home healthcare to the residents of Southwestern Pennsylvania.
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