The holidays present many opportunities to celebrate with family members of all ages. As parents and grandparents get older, they may not be able to keep up with the activities as they once did. They should still be included in the celebration. That means the family may need to make changes to accommodate the needs of aging loved ones.
While everyone is getting ready for holiday events, don’t forget about the seniors in your family. Whether they live at home or in an assisted living community, they need your help to participate in the upcoming festivities. What can you do to help your senior relatives enjoy the holiday while minimizing the risks that come with it?
- Remove Snow and Ice from Walkways and Driveways
Snow and ice can be a hazard for people of all ages. However, seniors are especially at risk. Have salt and a snow shovel ready just in case. Even a little ice or a small amount of snow can cause a fall.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in four Americans over age 65 fall each year. This results in over 2.8 million emergency room visits and 800,000 hospitalizations. Fall injuries can significantly impact a person’s quality of life. The best course of action to take is to do everything you can to avoid a fall and prevent your loved one from becoming a statistic.
- Put Up the Holiday Decorations Together for Fun and Safety
If your senior loved one lives on their own or in an assisted living facility, they might want to decorate for the holidays. You can keep them safe and turn this task into a fun bonding activity by offering to help.
You should handle the harder decorations. This includes anything that requires a ladder or reaching, like hanging strings of lights or putting the star on top of the tree. Your loved one will appreciate the assistance, and you can enjoy quality time together. It might even become a new holiday tradition! Also, remember to offer to help pack and store everything after the holiday season is over.
- Remove Tripping Hazards and Obstacles from the Home
Fall injuries are a serious concern, so make sure you remove any tripping hazards and obstacles from your home when seniors visit. This includes throw rugs, low furniture, toys, and anything else that can get underfoot.
Supervise elderly guests as they navigate stairs, uneven surfaces, or any change in elevation. While some can handle this with little difficulty, others may have trouble. Never assume that they are ok just because they do not ask for help. Be there as a safety net just in case.
- Replace Real Candles with Flameless Lights
Candles are a longstanding tradition when it comes to holiday celebrations. While real candles look beautiful, they can also be hazardous. Seniors could accidentally knock a candle over or burn themselves on the flame.
Flameless candles offer a safer alternative. Many types are available with flicker effects, built-in timers, and different wax colors. They look just as good but produce no heat, flame, or smoke. They can be handled or knocked over and won’t cause a fire. Create festive atmosphere without the risk.
- Talk to Seniors About Their Holiday Needs and Expectations
Parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles want to have a part in holiday activities. Talk to your senior relatives about what they would like to do, what they need, and their expectations for this year. Help them choose to attend events and activities that are suitable based on their mobility and health status.
This is also an opportunity to check in and make sure they do not need help with anything. They may need assistance preparing a dish for the event, wrapping gifts, or other activities we often take for granted. Some seniors find it difficult to ask for help doing the things they used to do. Let them know that you are there for them and be available to help them finish their holiday tasks.
- Get an Early Start on Their Gift Shopping This Year
Gift shopping can be very stressful. Help your senior loved ones get an early start to keep stress levels low. Starting early also means you can plan for shorter shopping trips, so they don’t get exhausted or overwhelmed.
- Go Shopping with Seniors or Arrange for a Friend or Relative to Join Them
Make sure your elderly relative isn’t gift shopping alone. Go with them or arrange for a close friend or family member to join them. This person should make sure your loved one stays hydrated, eats when needed, and can find a place to rest if they get tired. They can also serve as an extra set of hands to carry bags and packages.
- Shop Earlier in the Day When There Are Fewer Crowds
When scheduling your holiday shopping trips with a senior, try to go earlier in the day. There tend to be fewer crowds during this time because many people shop after they finish working in the late afternoon or evening.
You and your senior relative can navigate easier and with less confusion and noise. This is especially important when shopping with someone with dementia.
- Have a Designated Play Area for Kids When Seniors Visit
Most seniors love seeing their young family members. This can be a great way to lift their spirits. However, make sure you have a designated play area for the kids that’s out of the way.
This will lower the risk of a stray toy or distracted child becoming a tripping hazard. It can also reduce noise so that older family members can relax and chat without frustration.
- Check Chairs for Clearance and Firm Footing
Older adults may fall when sitting in or rising from a chair. Make sure you have seats that are sturdy, comfortable, and firmly footed. You may need to add non-slip furniture pads to keep chairs from sliding on smooth flooring like linoleum or hardwood. Also, make sure there is back support and enough clearance around seats for seniors to move in and out safely.
- Let Seniors Help with Easier Tasks in the Kitchen
Grandma or mom’s cooking is a timeless tradition during the holidays. Your loved one may want to continue that tradition even though they have physical limitations.
Set aside the more manageable kitchen tasks for your senior relatives who like to cook.
This should include things that don’t involve lifting heavy dishes, fire, or cutting ingredients. Let them stir, sift, measure, or place ingredients in the food prep space. They could also arrange cookies or candies on plates and platters for dessert.
- Provide Adequate Lighting Levels in the Area
Many people love to dim the lights and watch the Christmas tree sparkle or embers glow in the fireplace. This sets the mood but can also create navigation hazards for seniors.
Older people are more likely to experience failing eyesight. That means they could trip and fall in the dark or knock something over on a table. Lighting can also affect people with conditions like dementia. Keep lighting at normal levels when seniors are visiting.
There are many ways to get your senior relatives involved in the holidays without risking their health or safety. Follow these tips and contact Pinnacle Peak Senior Living to learn more about upcoming holiday activities in our community.