(BPT) - Whether it's for a special occasion or just because, hosting an older adult in your home can be a wonderful experience with lots of memory-making potential. However, for a safe and successful visit, you may want to make a few adjustments to your home before they arrive to make it more senior-friendly.
"Spending time with aging parents or grandparents is a wonderful experience for all generations," says Sara Terry, Brookdale Senior Living's senior vice president of resident and family engagement. "Creating a welcoming and relaxing atmosphere is the job of any good host and that is no different when entertaining seniors. Considering older adults' varying mobility and comfort levels, there are a few adjustments you can make to your home to meet their needs."
Whether your guest is staying short- or long-term, Terry offers these six tips to help you transform your home into a more senior-friendly environment so you can focus on what matters most: making memories with your entire family.
The walkways to many homes are cracked or uneven, which is a risk factor for falls. Make sure the pathway is cleared and easy to see, shovel show in the winter and sweep leaves in the fall. Stairs can be tricky to maneuver as well. If possible, add a ramp that leads to your door. If there are stairs, install handrails on each side. Entryways divided by a threshold can be tricky for someone with mobility issues. Eliminate this common tripping hazard when seniors visit.
The easiest thing you can do is remove clutter (especially on the floor) to allow sufficient space for senior guests who may be in a wheelchair to maneuver around rooms. Remove or tape down all cords. Rugs may look nice but they are a leading tripping hazard. Remove all accent rugs from your home, and in areas like the entryway where you must have mats, make sure they are secured with non-slip material.
Seniors need more light than you do in your home, particularly in notoriously dim areas such as entryways, hallways and staircases. Replace existing soft light bulbs with brighter or higher wattage ones and add motion-sensor lights to bathrooms. Adding night lights throughout your home is an easy addition that helps seniors see better, especially at night or on darker winter days.
Ideally, a senior won't have to navigate stairs, but if you have some in your home, you can make the space safer by having railings on both sides. Railings should be at least 1.5 inches in diameter to accommodate seniors with limited dexterity and aging grips. What's more, help each stair be more visible by using contrast strips (available at your local hardware store).
Make bathrooms safer by adding well-placed grab bars next to the toilet and in bathing spaces. In the shower or tub, add non-slip strips and a shower seat for comfort and ease of use. For guests who are staying awhile, consider adding a handheld, adjustable-height showerhead. Finally, set the hot water heater temperature to 120 degrees as to avoid unintended burns.
Whether your loved one is staying one night, one month or more, selecting the right room will increase their comfort and safety. One-level living is key, so if possible use a room on the main floor with easy access to the bathroom, kitchen and living room. Furniture, including the bed and chairs, should be at a good height (neither too low nor too high) to be easily used. Knobs can be difficult, so consider replacing round door handles with lever handles.
“In addition to these tips, I recommend having a conversation with your loved one before their stay,” says Terry. “Talk to them about what will make them feel at home in your home. What’s most important is enjoying your visit to the fullest and spending valuable time together."
(BPT) - There are laundry lists of reasons why grandparents are the best. They say yes when parents say no, they tell the best stories but make even better listeners, and often they’re the first people we call with news, both good and bad.
That’s why each September, we celebrate National Grandparents Day — a day of recognition for all the amazing “nanas” and “pop-pops” out there. But connecting with Grandma and Grandpa shouldn’t be just one day a year. Whether near or far, grandparents can keep connected to their family’s lives any day of the year with the following tips.
Make a daily photo album
When family members live far away it can be difficult to stay up-to-date on what’s new in their lives. It’s easy to forget to call one another and share life’s ups and downs. To help bridge this gap, make digital scrapbooks and schedule a call once a month to exchange your albums with each other. Voila — an entire month’s worth of memories to catch up on in one place!
Schedule a weekly dinner
Sure, it’s easy to sit down to enjoy a meal together as a family if you all live nearby, but for some families, that’s not possible. Luckily, technology makes it easy to share life’s experiences without being in the same place. Take turns choosing a recipe and pick a date for everyone to make it (Mom and Dad can assist the little helpers). At the end of the meal write a review of the food — what steps were easy or hard, which part was your favorite — and send to one another to see if your experiences were similar. If Grandma and Grandpa are tech savvy, try video chatting while you create and enjoy your recipes to make it feel like you’re dining together!
Play games together online
Don’t let distance put a damper on game night — grandkids and grandparents can play virtually! Downloading and playing is simple with today’s smartphones and affordable phone plans. Try TracFone — they offer a 30-day smartphone-only plan with talk, text and data for just $15 a month — all on the largest 4G LTE networks. Grandparents will have plenty of money left over to spoil the grandkids, and with no activation or cancellation fees, they can change their no-contract plan as often as needed, without penalties. Learn more at https://get.tracfone.com.
Call at bedtime
Bedtime can be hectic for moms and dads with little ones. Grandparents to the rescue! Make a call part of bedtime’s nightly ritual. Telling stories with Grandma will keep one kid busy, allowing Mom and Dad to tend to the others. It’s a sweet ending to the day for all!
Send postcards as you travel
There’s still something uniquely special about receiving a handwritten note from someone you love. Grandparents and grandchildren can share that experience by making a “pinky promise” to send one another postcards from their travels. Grandparents and grandchildren will look forward to checking the mailbox daily for it to arrive, and a phone call to discuss all of the trip’s adventures will soon follow.
(BPT) - From identity theft to home burglary, it's an unfortunate fact that senior citizens are often a target for criminals. By taking simple security measures while at home and out traveling, you can dramatically reduce the likelihood you or a loved one is victimized.
Always lock doors: Whether you're in a home or an apartment, always keep doors locked. It's a simple yet effective step to keep property and the residents safe, during the day and in the evening.
Secure patio doors: Determined criminals won't stop even though the front door is locked. Use the Master Lock 265DCCSEN Security Door Bar to restrict patio and sliding glass doors from being pried open.
Ask for identification: When service or delivery people come to the door, ask for ID. If you still feel uneasy, get a number to reschedule the visit and then call the company directly to confirm the employee's status.
Secure small valuables: Whether home or away, use a light portable safe. The Master Lock 5900D SafeSpace Portable Personal Safe keeps cash, documents, electronics and small valuables safe, plus the cable can be wrapped around a fixed object or serve as a carrying handle.
Vary routine while home: While home, try to vary the routine periodically. Criminals track when you come and go, so if it's obvious you're always gone during certain times, your home can easily be targeted.
Maintain routine while gone: If traveling, make it seem like someone is home. If you can't get a house sitter, make sure to stop the newspaper and mail delivery and have a neighbor bring your trash in on the appropriate days.
Keep keys close: Skip the obvious doormat or planter and instead store spare keys and access cards securely by using a Master Lock 5422D Push Button Portable Key Safe. Plus, the protective weather cover prevents freezing and jamming.
Travel with less: When traveling, avoid drawing attention by wearing minimal jewelry and carrying only the necessary cash. You'll feel confident and enjoy your trip more when you leave jewelry and other valuables at home.
No need to name: For phone books, organization directories and apartment lobbies, list your first initial rather than your full first name. This can help protect your identification; strangers won't know your full name while friends and relatives will recognize your initial.
With these simple safety measures, senior citizens can feel protected in their homes for years to come.
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