Will you be home for the holidays with senior friends or family?
Have your relatives downsized into a smaller home that's short on space and places to sit? Or maybe your parents feel like they've done their time hosting and are now asking you to take up the traditions and responsibilities of hosting the holidays. With my tips, you can prepare your home to be older relative ready.
I know you want your senior relatives to be comfortable and have a great time. To do that you'll want to consider making a few adjustments that take different mobility and comfort levels into consideration. For a safe and successful visit make these changes before they arrive. When you do, everyone can relax and enjoy making memories.
Don't worry; I'm not going to suggest you remodel a bathroom or install a permanent ramp. This list is practical and needs little to no money. Just your attention to detail and a few hours of your time.
Creating a senior friendly home for the holidays
It’s not uncommon for walkways to be cracked or uneven and that can cause falls. Fill cracks and make the path as level as possible. If leaves or snow have fallen, clear it away and put down ice melt if it’s cold and wet.
If you have stairs leading to your front door, make sure your handrails are secure. If you only have one handrail consider adding a second on the other side. If that's not possible, make it a point to watch for your senior guest's to arrive and meet them outside. Lend an arm or hand for extra support while they walk up the stairs.
Greet them and send them off with lots of light. Light up your walkways, stairs, and front door. Make sure all the light bulbs are working and are the highest wattage they allow.
Your house number should be large and clearly visible from the street. This will make it easier for first-time or infrequent visitors to find your home. By the way, this is a safety feature for all your family and friends, in case of emergency, responders will find your home without a problem.
Now it's time to come inside. An entry divided by a threshold can be tricky for some. If it’s impractical to upgrade your entry to a zero threshold, replace it with one that is no taller than 1/2” and has bevels on each side with a ratio off 1:2. This change offers the same benefits to older adults as it does people with children in strollers. It’s a minor quick fix that’s good for everyone.
Create a comfortable and warm welcome to your home for the holidays by giving visitors a place to place their bags, remove shoes, and hang coats. If you have a closet, consider upgrading to sturdy wooden hangers.
Live with clutter long enough, and you almost don’t see it anymore. Before they arrive, take a close look around your home and remove any tripping hazards like shoes, bags, toys, sports equipment, or awkwardly placed furniture. Remove, tape down, or neatly bundle and all cords.
Area and scatter rug may look nice, but they are a tripping hazard. Remove them if you can, especially scatter rugs. In places like an entryway where they can be a must-have, secure them with non-slip material or rug tape.
We love decorating our home for the holidays, but the extra things can become a new source of clutter and obstruction. Take a minimal approach with garland, strands of lights, and hanging decorations. Keep all cords neatly bundled and out of the way. Clear stairs are a priority so avoid wrapping your banister with a garland that could contribute to an accident.
Lighting is tremendously important. The average 60-year-old needs twice as much light as the average 20-year-old. Pay particular attention to notoriously dark areas like hallways, staircase, bathrooms, and entryways. Adding night lights or motion sensitive lights to bathrooms and hallways is a great idea.
Turn on your table lamps and overhead lighting to prevent tripping. This will also help everyone to see loved ones open their gifts or reminisce while thumbing through photo albums.
AT THE DINNER TABLE
Good food is always part of being home for the holidays. Ask your senior relative if they have any specific dietary needs, especially if they have diabetes or high blood pressure. Make sure they're getting enough to eat and drink too. If you’re checking your relatives out of a senior care center or assisted living facility, ask the staff about medications they should take with meals.
It will be much easier for older relatives to get up and down from the dinner table if you provide a chair with arms and clear space underneath the seat. This way they'll be able to use the arms of the chair to lower themselves into the seat and gain leverage to assist themselves standing up.
You'll be asking your loved one about their dietary needs. This is also a great time to ask what will make them feel most a home for the holidays. Ask is there anything you can do to make their visit more comfortable. If you’re guests are staying the night you might want to read my article about Guest Room Styling Tips and Decor 3 Ways.