Senior Safety & Health

Senior Safety for the Holidays | A Complete Guide

Senior Safety During the Holiday Season

The holidays are perhaps the busiest time of the year, but that doesn’t mean you should forget about senior safety.

There are many things that elders should be mindful of, whether it’s inside the home or outside running errands.

From decorations to cooking to shopping to health and nutrition, here is everything you need to make this your safest (and most stress-free) holiday ever.

Senior Home Safety Tips

Decorating Your Home

Holiday decorations can be a great way to uplift your mood, get you in the spirit of the season, and create a cozy and inviting home. 

However, some decor can pose a tripping hazard for elders. This winter, make sure you’re aware of anything that might increase the risk of falls.

First, opt for simple decorations that don’t crowd and allow for natural movement around the room. 

Likewise, avoid keeping extension cords on the floor and discard objects that might cause a stumble. Make sure extension cords aren’t overloaded.

Secondly, instead of using fragile ornaments and baubles, use brightly colored paper garlands. Make sure you hang them high enough that they don’t get caught or tangled on things beneath them.

Lastly, swap out candles with centerpieces of fruit, flowers, or similar items. You can even purchase LED or battery-powered candles to mimic the appearance of a real candle.

When you hang your holly, garland, and tinsel, don’t place them anywhere used for balance, such as a handrail. 

Christmas Trees

Yes, even the Christmas tree needs addressing when it comes to senior safety during the holidays. That’s because both artificial and real trees can be a potential fire hazard. 

So, if you are shopping for an artificial tree or already have one, make sure it has a fireproof label.

If you use a real Christmas tree, the best way to minimize an accident is by watering it regularly.

No matter which type of tree you own, keep them away from stoves, fireplaces, and heating vents. You can also use flame-resistant ornaments and decorations, as well.

Check the Halls for Proper Lighting

Making sure you have appropriate lighting is essential, especially during dark winter months. This year, double-check that your lights are in working order, inside and out.

Poorly lit doorways, rooms, and hallways can make it difficult for seniors to notice tripping hazards, especially if their eyesight is poor.

Check every bedroom to ensure that light switches are easy to reach from the bed or a chair.

Add a nightlight in the hall, especially on the way to the bathroom. You can find festive lights at many stores.

As for your outdoor holiday lighting, the National Safety Council (NSC) recommends only using lights that have been tested by Underwriters Laboratories–these lights are labeled UL. Ask for help when hanging outdoor lights.

Check your lighting for cracks, frayed wires, or faulty connections. Don’t hang your lights close to flammable surfaces, and unplug them when you go to bed or leave your house.

Twinkling lights can be disorienting for some elders, so try not to use those. 

Check the Floor

As you decorate this holiday season, make sure that you keep floors free from messes as well as any cordage or wires.

Arrange your furniture so that others can easily walk around it, particularly low coffee and end tables. Ask for assistance when rearranging if necessary.

Rugs can potentially be a fall risk, but if you don’t want to get rid of them, non-slip pads are an easy fix.

If you have a people-loving pet, consider buying a baby gate, so they don’t get underfoot when guests are visiting. 

In the same vein, if you have young grandchildren with many toys, consider designating a specific room for them to play. 

Not only will that eliminate a tripping accident, but it will help keep their playthings in one place!

Also, don’t forget to check the outside of your house! Make sure walkways, porches, and other areas are free of any obstacles and snow. 

If your area experiences heavy snowfall and icy conditions, make sure you salt walkways often. Have someone available to shovel the snow for you, so you don’t have to do it yourself.

Food and Beverage

For seniors, managing your blood sugar levels is very important. While it’s tough to avoid the sugary sweets during the holidays, you can’t neglect your health. 

You don’t have to deprive yourself of sweet treats but eat them sparingly to avoid spikes and dips in your blood sugar.

A crucial part of senior safety is awareness of any interactions or side effects that your medication may have when you drink alcohol. Try to minimize how much you drink, or perhaps don’t drink at all.

If you are cooking, set timers and reminders to turn off your stove, you can install automatic timers for gas stoves, which will be a tremendous help during the hustle and bustle of holiday cooking. 

Additionally, don’t neglect to watch your cooking. Not only do you not want to burn your holiday meal, but the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) states that the leading cause of fires during the holidays is unattended cooking.

Miscellaneous Senior Safety Tips for the Home

As you decorate, take a moment to look for any broken appliances around your home, cabinets that are too low or high, or unsteady chairs and stools.   

Also, check the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms. If you need help reaching these devices, ask for help.

Additionally, if you need to install grab bars near the bed or in the bathroom, this is the time to do it.

Consider buying a generator in case of power outages, or have arrangements pre-made, so you have a warm place to stay. 

Keep a chair or stool by entrances so you can easily take your shoes on and off, especially if they’re slick and muddy. 

Senior Safety During Holiday Shopping

Love it or hate it, holiday shopping is a fact of life. To make this season’s shopping trips the best yet, follow these senior safety tips for holiday shopping.

Break Up Shopping Trips

Holiday shopping can be physically and mentally taxing. Elders usually have a lot of people to shop for, and might be tempted to knock it out in one trip.

However, this can be extremely exhausting. Instead, consider making multiple trips.

Get a Head Start

Last-minute holiday shopping makes things feel more hectic than they need to be. Try to start your shopping early in the season.

Similarly, you can beat the after-work rush at many stores by shopping earlier in the day. Visting stores when they open will ensure you don’t feel hurried as you shop, so you know you’ll find the perfect gifts.

Not only will it make your excursions less stressful, but you might even beat the holiday crowds, too!

Bring Someone with You

Take some company with you as you shop. Family and friends can help you carry your bags and provide you with some much-needed socialization.

And who knows, they might even give you some neat gift ideas!

Carpool or Rideshare

The influx of people traveling and shopping makes streets more dangerous. If you can, carpool with friends or family as you shop. Or, consider taking a ride share service. 

Be Aware of Scams

As sad as it is, older adults are one of the primary targets of scammers, both online and in-person. During the holidays, you might see an influx of email, phone, or marketing scams.

Look out for delivery notification emails confirming an order you didn’t make, or claims that FedEx, UPS, or the post office has a package for you. 

Any links in these messages will download viruses and malware onto your computer, so block the sender and delete the e-mail right away.

These notifications look authentic, but there are ways to tell that it’s fake. It will have missing details like your name, address, or a tracking number for this order.

Even if the sender is from Google or Yahoo, look at the sender address before opening these messages.

If you’re concerned about an order, visit the website where you purchased your item, or call the package services listed in the e-mail.

Never click on anything that claims you’ve won a free trip, prize, giveaway, or something similar. 

Also, if you get a message from a charity requesting donations, make sure it is a legitimate organization. Charity Navigator and Give.org are two websites that will help you verify the authenticity of the e-mail.

Healthful Ideas for Senior Safety 

Maintaining a nutritious and healthy diet and lifestyle can be a challenge during the holidays, but you can do it!

Follow these nutrition and lifestyle tips for senior holiday safety

Drink Plenty of Water

Staying hydrated is one of the best ways to stay healthy this season. Water isn’t just good for you physically, but it also helps your cognition, too. 

The dry winter months can sap the moisture from your skin and cause dehydration to occur, even if you don’t realize it’s happening. 

Dehydration can cause confusion, hunger, mood changes, body aches, and a whole host of other problems. 

Keep a bottle of water with you as you do your holiday errands, and have a cup within reach when you are relaxing at home.

Stick to Your Diet

If you are supposed to watch the amount of sugar or sodium you consume, make sure you stick with it.

Yes, it’s tough to watch what you eat during the holidays. And this time of year can be very stressful, which causes many to overeat. 

There are many foods to substitute when you get a craving for something you know you shouldn’t eat. The chart below can help you when the next snack attack hits you. 

Source: 9gag.com

Keep these foods on hand and easily accessible, so you reach for them instead of something else.

Don’t Forget to Stay Active

It’s challenging to find time for yourself during the hustle and bustle of the holidays. And exercise is the last thing anyone wants to do this time of year.

However, you can’t neglect the importance of physical activity. It can increase your mobility and more, which will preserve your independence in the long run.

Ask friends and family to bundle up with you to go on a walk around the block if it isn’t wet or icy outside. 

There are also many indoor exercises for seniors that anyone can do from the comfort of home.

Don’t Be Afraid to Pass the Torch

If you’ve always been the one to host holiday gatherings at your home, it can be difficult to ask another family member to do it. 

Source: comfortkeepers.ca

There is a lot of nostalgia and a feeling of pride that comes from hosting holiday dinners. But there is nothing wrong with asking someone younger to take over this tradition.

Cleaning, cooking, decorating, and taking care of all the other preparations are a lot of work, and it shouldn’t have to fall on your shoulders.

Don’t Worry About Gifts

Many elders on a fixed income might find that their financial limitations keep them from purchasing many gifts. 

You must know that it’s okay if you can’t get the perfect gift for every member of your family. 

You can lower your stress and let yourself enjoy the season more by having a family grab bag, or drawing numbers

Give Yourself Enough Rest

As much as you should make sure you get active, you should also make sure to get plenty of rest as well.

Traveling, visiting, errands, and everything else that you have going on during this time can take a lot out of you, especially as you age.

If you need to take a break, sit down for a while, or take a nap, listen to your body’s needs. Give yourself time to recharge so you can come back feeling better.

Also, you can’t underestimate the importance of quality sleep for seniors. Learn how you can improve your overall health with proper sleep hygiene.

Happy Holidays from MeetCaregivers

Don’t ignore winter nutrition for seniors. If you or your loved one needs a little extra help around the kitchen this season, let us help!

An in-home care worker can assist with many needs, from routine care to transportation. The right care can go a long way to improve holiday senior safety.

Call us at (888) 541-1136. For general inquiries, or to ask about health care coverage, message us at info@meetcaregivers.com.

Also, be sure to check the blog for resources and tips for happy, healthy senior living.

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