grandfather and grandson

How to Prepare for Older Out-of-Town Guests

There is no greater joy than seeing generations gathered together for the holidays. It does take some thoughtful planning and coordinating, however. If you are having your aging parents or grandparents staying with you, be sure to prep your house for someone who is more advanced in age. Here are some tips that you may find helpful:

  • Outside of the home, make sure that sidewalks are even, stairs are secure and there are handrails in place.
  • Make sure the outside is properly lit.
  • Rake up any leaves from the trees. Leaves and water are a dangerous combination because they are as slippery as ice.
  • If there is snow or ice, make sure that it has been shoveled and either sand or some type of ice melt has been put down.
  • Stairs are tricky for older adults. Ideally, you should have a bedroom and a bathroom on the 1st floor for your aging loved one. If not, perhaps a playroom or a home office can be converted temporarily for guests.
  • Bathrooms are one of the most dangerous rooms in the house. Pretty bathmats and scatter rugs are a falling hazard, especially for someone who needs the assistance of a cane or a walker.
  • For the tub, consider non-skid pads for the tub, or a shower stall or even installing a temporary hand grip.
  • Older skin tends to be thinner and more susceptible to burns, so be sure to lower your water tank down to 120 degrees.
  • Furniture placement is important. If your loved one walks with a walker or is in a wheelchair, be mindful of the width of the equipment and move the furniture apart to create a wide enough berth.
  • Also, be aware of lamp, computer, or phone cords and tuck them away.
  • Declutter kids’ toys, dog toys, extraneous furniture, and shoes on mats.
  • Because vision tends to decrease with age, make sure your home, especially hallways and stairways are properly lit.
  • If their room is on the second floor, make sure the stairs are clear and have a banister or handrail on both sides.
  • Ideally, a senior’s bedroom would be near a bathroom. However, if that is not possible, try to accommodate them with a commode for any night trips that they may need.
  • Don’t forget to consider their dietary need!  Some medical conditions may require attention. If they have high blood pressure, go easy on salt and processed meats. If they are diabetic, consider recipes geared towards their condition.
  • Medications also can interact with foods. Be mindful of grapefruits which may interact with cholesterol and blood pressure medications; leafy greens such as kale can affect someone with blood clotting issues, dairy products can lessen the effectiveness of antibiotics; alcohol can have an adverse effect on many drugs especially anyone on antidepressants.
  • Be thoughtful. Although you may be overheated cooking the kitchen, they may be chilled by an open door or lowered heat. Additionally, music/television may be a nice backdrop for celebrations but, if too loud, may add to their difficulty hearing and engaging in conversation.

As with anything, communication is key. Please speak openly and honestly with your older loved one so you both have a stress-free and accident-free holiday together. Ask them what would make them feel comfortable, what their daily schedule with medications and meals are, and finally, what they want to do or not do… after all they are the guest!