We have finally reached that wonderful time of year when family gathers together for the holidays. Many of us travel over the river and through the woods to grandma’s house, but what happens when grandma and grandpa visit your home for the holidays? Whether they visit for an afternoon meal or are staying for an extended period of time, it is best to take every measure to ensure their safety and comfort.
Going by the numbers, falls are the number one cause of fatal injuries and the most common cause of non-fatal hospital visits among aging adults. If you are the child of an older adult it is likely that you have taken every precaution to help prevent falls in your parent’s home. Such precautions should also be implemented into your own home in preparation for parental visits.
Small Measures that Make Big Differences
Exploring fall prevention solutions can be quite overwhelming. You may look at your home and wonder if costly and extensive modifications need to be done to safeguard your parent’s safety. The reality is that there are many small measures that can be taken to prepare for a holiday visit that make a big difference in your parent’s safety and comfort. Consider adding these small actions to your pre-visit safety checklist:
- Clean-up any clutter on the floor that could be a tripping hazard for your loved one
- Remove or tape over any loose wires or cords from lamps, TV’s, phones, etc.
- Remove slippery rugs or add slip-resistant backing to rugs and mats
- Add nightlights to key areas of the home such as hallways and bathrooms
- Re-arrange furniture to create large walkways for walkers, rollators, scooters, or wheelchairs
These precautions may seem small, but such measures to eliminate tripping hazards will make large differences in ensuring your parent’s comfort while in your home.
Larger Safety Measures
In case of an aging relative staying at your home for a longer period of time, additional safety measures should be considered. For a long-term stay, we recommend calling an Occupational Therapist or a credentialed expert from your local Home Medical Equipment (HME) store to assess your home. Care Experts will evaluate the safeness of your home and help create a plan to overcome safety threats. Let’s address various threats that may be found by a Care Expert and how they can be mitigated.
Mobility loss is a common result of the aging body. Many seniors use wheelchairs or power scooters to overcome such loss in mobility. Many HME stores rent out ramps to install inside and outside of the home to increase access for scooters and wheelchairs.
Walkers & Rollators
Your loved one may not need full mobility assistance from a scooter or wheelchair, but might require the help of a walker or rollator to get around. Unless you have used a rolling walker yourself, you may be unfamiliar with the limitations one can experience when using such a device. To ensure compatibility of your home with a walker rollator, consider doing the following:
- Clearing furniture to create wide passage ways around the home
- Removing all area rugs for the duration of the visit or stay
- Installing threshold covers in doorways or transitions in flooring
It may be necessary to keep a walker or rollator on hand at your home for whenever mom or dad come to visit. Most traditional walkers or rollators are large and bulky and take up space. If you are planning on storing a walking device at your home for your loved one, consider one of Stander’s compact walkers or rollators, such as the EZ Fold-N-Go Walker or the Let’s Go Indoor Rollator.
It’s no secret that the bathroom is the most dangerous room in the home for seniors. Hard and slippery surfaces combined with tight spaces are a recipe for falls and serious injuries. Traditional remedies for bathroom falls include wall-mounted grab bars, toilet seat frames, and bath benches. Many of these tools are permanent additions to a bathroom that require drilling into the walls and leave holes and scuff marks.
Using a transfer pole like the Security Pole and Curve Grab Bar is a temporary solution that replaces traditional grab bars and toilet seat frames. The Security Pole is installed with tension created between the floor and ceiling with no drilling required. That means you can place the Security Pole in a guest bathroom for your visitors and remove it after their stay without marking up your bathroom.
The Security Pole’s swiveling grab bar not only makes it a great solution for bathroom safety, but can also be used for temporary assistance next to a bed or in the living room to get off the sofa.
Falling out of bed becomes more common as we get older. Using a bed rail or bed handle is an obvious and effective solution to prevent falls during the night. To limit the stress and burden placed on the visitors, you might think about keeping a bed rail on hand at your home. Stander has 12 different bed rail options to consider, several of which are intended with a traveler in mind.
The Bed Rail Advantage Traveler is an oversized bed handle that comes folded in half. Assembly requires it to be unfolded and locked with two pins. The rail slips in between the mattress and box spring and attaches to the bed frame with the included safety strap. When not being used, the Advantage Traveler can easily be stored in a drawer, closet, or under the bed. Apart from being easy to assemble and store, it can support up to 400 pounds while providing fall protection out of bed and assistance when standing.
The Bedside Econorail is the lightest bed rail in the world. Weighing just 1.5 pounds, the aircraft grade aluminum bed rail can support 300 pounds when used to get out of bed. The Econorail uses a snap-together assembly and takes up little space when stowed away.
If you are looking for a versatile bed rail that provides maximum security, the EZ Adjust Bed Rail is the bed rail for you. The patented design allows it to both extend from 26” to 42” in length at any time and rotate down 180° while still on the bed. To learn more about how the EZ Adjust Bed Rail can protect your loved one while in bed, watch the video below.
Your loved one may not be able to make it to the bathroom during the night. If this is the case, consider calling your local HME store and renting a bedside commode. Many HME stores offer delivery and installation support. To find your closest HME store, use our Dealer Locator tool here.
Living Room Support
Every older adult has their favorite chair. The truth is, the older we get, the more sedentary we become. The seating options in your home may be foreign and uncomfortable for your parent. Even more important, your living room chairs may present new challenges of standing. Lift chairs can be the ultimate solution for standing assistance, but they can also be expensive if needed as a temporary answer to fall prevention. Assistive devices, such as the EZ Stand-N-Go and Assist-A-Tray, provide support handles to help someone pull or push themselves to a standing position.
Often times living room furniture is too low to the ground and contributes to the difficulty of standing up. Furniture risers are inexpensive solutions that can be added to most chairs and couches.
The Holidays should be a time of caring, comfort, and gratitude. No one needs to feel anxious or fearful about falling, so long as precautions are taken ahead of time. With the availability of innovative and affordable solutions, older relatives can feel comfortable visiting their children’s’ homes to enjoy a safe and comfortable holiday season.