The holidays are a special time of the year when all generations keep gather together under one roof. Make that time as enjoyable and stress-free as possible by making your home a safer space for aging parents and other loved ones. Our Chief Clinical Quality Officer, Sharon Roth Maguire, shares her holiday safety tips, including fall prevention tips to help you fall-proof your home, below.
Secure all floor coverings.
Remove unnecessary throw rugs, especially those that are not secured or skid proof. If your parent is staying overnight, put skidproof mats (and ideally grab bars) in the shower.
Check your chairs.
Older adults can sometimes fall when getting in or out of a chair. Offer them a chair that’s firmly footed and easy to get into and out of; holiday dinner tables can get crowded, so make sure there’s good clearance around the chair. A pillow at the back or under the seat provides support and comfort.
Reduce, or better yet, remove clutter that can cause stumbles. The holidays can bring a lot of new toys for children—watch out for these, as seniors may not see them and inadvertently trip and lose their balance.
Limit dim lighting.
We all love the glow of Christmas tree lights and Menorah candles. Enjoy these in short bursts, as dim lighting increases the chances of falls. Also watch out for shadows and glares that may disorient your parent, leading them to misgauge a step or the distance to a chair. Get more fall prevention tips.
Stay safe when cooking.
It’s a great idea to involve older adults in holiday activities, like cooking. Give them less injury-prone tasks, such as placing the ingredients in the prep area, or sorting, stirring, or measuring them. (It’s best you handle cutting and chopping yourself.) Don’t ask them to move hot or steaming items from one surface to another—for instance, you might have them transfer cooled cookies into a storage container, rather than remove them from a hot baking sheet. Encourage them to do all cooking activities in a seated position.
Monitor for sound.
Certain sounds can be overwhelming, confusing, and anxiety-provoking for older adults, especially those with hearing loss. Hearing aids can sometimes heighten background noise, so imagine struggling to pay attention while there are multiple loud conversations and background music happening simultaneously. If you notice your parent withdrawing from the conversation or festivities, this background noise may be why. Try to create smaller intimate conversation spots away from the crowd to enhance his or her enjoyment. Link to Holiday Activities for Alzheimer's and Dementia blog post.