9 easy ways to make your home senior safe for the holidays.
During the holiday season, it’s likely you’ll have a variety of visitors to your home of various ages. You may have moved your heavy vase or breakable bowl if small children are visiting not only for the survival of your accessories but to keep the kids safe, too. However, have you considered how you can make your home safer for older adults? Before your senior family, friends, and neighbors come to visit, it would be worthwhile to look at your house through their eyes—literally and figuratively.
Let's start with vision impairment. As we age, our eyesight typically declines and the risk of a variety of eye problems increases, too. This includes everything from cataracts (the lens of your eye gets cloudy) to glaucoma (pressure inside the eye) to age-related macular degeneration (typically causing blurred central vision). Given that you likely don’t know the vision issues of all your visitors, you can make your home more accommodating to any older adult in a few simple ways.
If there are level changes or steps in your home where you frequently say “watch your step,” consider marking them with brightly colored tape to make them more identifiable for people of all ages. It’s a good idea to do this before a party or family gathering.
You may need to turn up the dimmer switch higher than you normally do. It will make it easier for folks with vision challenges to see more clearly.
Check around the house, inside and outside, for adequate lighting near steps and stairs. Also, if your lighting is dim, consider changing to a brighter light bulb, especially near frequently used entrances.
If there are tables that are the same color as your floor, it may be difficult for those with vision challenges to see where the table surface ends. Consider a tablecloth, place mat, or other solution that will allow them to clearly see the edge of the table surface.
Now let's talk about fall risks. Every year, about 25% of adults over the age of 65 will fall. One out of five falls causes a serious injury that requires medical attention. Many older adults are not as strong as they used to be and may have problems with balance. Addressing these risks in your home can help ease your mind and make your visitors feel safer.
Make sure that small accent rugs are removed from spaces where visitors will be moving about the house.
Pathways should be devoid of clutter and should be free of cords.
If you have any area rugs, make sure that they are secured to the floor with heavy furniture and non-slip mats. Be especially careful of turned-up corners. If you see them, secure them with double-sided tape.
A couple of additional ways to make sure your home is comfortable for older visitors:
Ensure that pathways are wide enough for a walker or wheelchair, if needed. The path should be at least 36 inches wide.
In the rooms where older guests will be visiting, make sure there is at least one stable chair with arms that will make it easier for them to get in and out of.
Keep in mind that these are quick fixes to make your home safer for the short term. If an older adult will be staying with you for a longer period of time, an in-home assessment should be performed by a Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist or Occupational Therapist to determine what changes would need to be made to enhance accessibility and safe daily use.
Making your home safer for the holidays doesn’t have to be overwhelming. The suggestions listed here are easy and can be taken care of in a short period of time. A few simple steps can make a big difference.