When inviting an elderly or frail senior to your home, take precautions to ensure they can enjoy the occasion to the fullest without mishaps or fear of safety issues.
Planning to have frail senior guests in your home
When you are hosting events at home, plan for any frail guests. There is a need to consider handicapping conditions and other issues that could cause safety risks.
When a senior is worried about safety and is uncomfortable, it is difficult to have a good time.
Remove throw rugs and work to make walking spaces free of electric cords and other clutter or any short standing objects that could present a fall risk to seniors with a reduced visual field or issues with balance.
It may help to move any statues or other standing items back to allow for more walk-through space.
Do a safety walk-through the spaces your guests will visit to be sure they are wheelchair, walker, and/or cane friendly. Imagine yourself with a mobility issue coming to the place for the first time.
Take a look at decorative items, inspecting them for danger. Art, which protrudes from the walls, can be a challenge, especially in a dark hallway to the restroom.
Making your house safe for guests at risk for tripping
Mark a spot in the driveway for this senior. Keep the parking area free of clutter, which could trip a walker who is unsteady. Move yard waste, which can precipitate a fall.
Be sure there is adequate lighting, both outside the house and inside including hall areas.
Night lights may help in this regard. Use a flashlight to personally escort this guest to and from the house to assure safe access.
Sidewalks need to be maintained in order to be visually available to the guest. If possible, avoid stairs, but if they are part of your plan, keep them uncluttered and lit.
If your house has any steps either on the porch or by the entry inside, pay close attention to being nearby and giving verbal warnings as the frail guest navigates them.
The same applies to a sunken living room, as this can be a minefield to a person with a limited vision or balance issues.
Due to both allergies and risk of falling, dogs and cats need to be kept in another area as this person may have trouble when a pet runs in or out of their intended path.
Although these transitions may seem easy to you, they can be both frightening and hazardous for certain people.
Providing for the comfort of elderly visitors while they are in your home
Be sure the doorbell is in working order and respond to it promptly. Don’t rely on yelling; “Come on in” as people with reduced hearing may not hear that. Also, make the doorbell accessible with adequate lighting and not blocking it with plants or objects of art, which can make it hard to reach.
If possible, install a higher toilet seat and/or grab bars to make the bathroom accessible. These raised toilet seats are affordable and can be found in the local hardware store. Also, keep some type of light on in the bathroom. A lamp or bold night-light may help here.
In the sitting area, provide some chairs that are not too low to get out of easily and be sure that they have arms to make getting up easier.
If the guests are going to watch a DVD offer English subtitles. Those with a slight hearing loss may be grateful. Also, visual learners benefit from and appreciate the extra visual input.
When serving a meal, use a table of standard height with suitable chairs. Many modern tables are bar height with chairs so high that some people's feet can’t touch the floor, and there may be no arms to hold onto while steadying oneself.
In making the menu, provide at least one alternative to spicy food as some older adults have tender digestive systems. One option is to provide the spicy portion of the meal as a separate and well-marked dip or sauce to add as desired.
It is better to provide extra safety measures than not enough and regret it after an unfortunate incident.
The comfort of seniors in your home can be vital to having an enjoyable time. Often they will not tell you they are miserable, but you may not have another opportunity to entertain them if they are uncomfortable.
Since there are so many holiday events, winter is a crucial time to deliver safety along with the punch and cookies!