From decorating to cooking to shopping to health, these holiday safety tips for seniors will help make this your most stress-free holiday yet.
Updated November 7, 2022
Holiday Safety Tips For Seniors & Families
The holidays are the busiest time of the year for most people. With everything going on, it’s easy to overlook potential safety hazards to seniors. There are many holiday safety tips older adults should be mindful of during this season. From decorations to cooking to shopping to health and nutrition, here are a few suggestions to make this the safest (and most stress-free) holiday ever.
Holiday Safety Tips For 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. In addition, poorly lit doorways, rooms, and hallways can make it difficult for seniors to notice tripping hazards, especially if their eyesight is poor. So this winter, make sure you’re aware of anything that might increase the risk of falls.
- Check for broken appliances and unsteady chairs and stools.
- Opt for simple decorations that don’t clutter or get in the way when moving around the room.
- Keep extension cords off the floor and move objects that could cause a stumble.
- Don’t decorate surfaces used for balancing (like handrails) with holly, garland, or tinsel.
- Ensure you have proper lighting, and double-check that indoor and outdoor lights are in working order.
- Add a nightlight in the hall, especially on the way to the bathroom.
- Rearrange bedroom furniture, so people can easily reach light switches from the bed or a chair.
- Avoid twinkling lights because they can disorient some elders.
- Keep a chair or stool near entryways so people can easily take their shoes on and off, especially if they’re slick and muddy.
- Rearrange furniture (particularly low coffee and end tables), so others can easily walk around it (ask for help to avoid injury).
- Remove rugs or use non-slip pads to keep them from slipping and sliding on the ground.
- Install grab bars near the bed or in the bathroom.
- Clear walkways, porches, and similar areas of obstacles and snow. Salt walkways often and get help shoveling walkways and driveways.
- Buy a baby gate for people-loving pets. Doing so keeps them from getting underfoot when guests visit.
- Designate a specific room for young children to play and keep their toys. Not only will that eliminate a tripping accident, but it will help keep their playthings in one place!
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), electrical issues caused nearly 50% of Christmas tree fires, and 11% of candle fires occurred in December and January. With that in mind:
- Check the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms. If you need help reaching these devices, ask for help.
- Swap out centerpiece candles with fruit, flowers, and similar items. Or, you can purchase LED or battery-powered candles to mimic the appearance of a real candle.
- Don’t overload power strips with devices or appliances.
- Use brightly-colored paper garlands instead of fragile ornaments and baubles. Hang them high enough to avoid getting caught or tangled.
- If you buy an artificial tree, get one with a fireproof label. If you purchase a real tree, keep it hydrated with regular watering.
- Keep the tree (whether fake or real) away from stoves, fireplaces, and heating vents. Likewise, use flame-resistant ornaments and decorations.
- Check lighting equipment for cracks, frayed wires, or faulty connections. Unplug your lighting equipment when you go to bed or leave the house.
- Set timers and reminders to turn off your stove when finished cooking. You can install automatic timers for gas stoves, which will tremendously help during the hustle and bustle of holiday cooking.
- Watch your cooking. Not only do you not want to burn your holiday meal, but the NFPA states that the leading cause of fires during the holidays is unattended cooking.
Holiday Safety Tips For 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 holiday safety tips for shopping.
- Break up shopping trips. Holiday shopping can be physically and mentally taxing. Knocking everything out in one trip is tempting, but this can be highly exhausting to older adults. 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.
- Shop earlier in the day. Beat the after-work rush at most stores by shopping earlier in the day. Visiting stores when they open is a great way to beat the after-work rush. It also prevents you from feeling hurried as you shop, so you know you’ll find the perfect gifts.
- Bring someone with you. Take some company with you as you shop. Family and friends can help you carry your bags and provide much-needed socialization. And who knows, they might even give you some neat gift ideas!
- Carpool or order a rideshare. The influx of people traveling and shopping makes the streets more dangerous. If you can, carpool with friends or family as you shop. Or, consider taking a rideshare service.
Holiday Safety Tips For Scams
As sad as it is, older adults are one of the primary targets of scammers, both online and in-person. You might see an influx of email, phone, or marketing scams during the holidays.
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 email immediately.
These notifications look authentic, but there are ways to tell that it’s fake. For example, it will have missing details like your name, address, or tracking number for this order. Even if the sender is from Google or Yahoo, look at the sender’s 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 email. Never click on anything claiming you’ve won a free trip, prize, giveaway, or similar.
Also, if you get a message from a charity requesting donations, check if it’s a legitimate organization. Charity Navigator and Give.org are two websites that will help you verify the email’s authenticity.
Holiday Safety Tips For Health & Wellbeing
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.
- Keep an eye on your blood sugar levels. For seniors, managing your blood sugar levels is very important. You don’t have to deprive yourself of sweet treats but eat them sparingly to avoid spikes and dips in your blood sugar.
- If you are supposed to watch your sugar or sodium intake, stick with it. There are many foods to substitute when you crave something you shouldn’t eat.
- Try to minimize how much you drink, or perhaps abstain completely. A crucial part of senior safety is awareness of any interactions or side effects that your medication may have when you drink alcohol.
- 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 helps your cognition, too. The dry winter months can sap the moisture from your skin and cause dehydration, even if you don’t realize it’s happening. Dehydration can cause confusion, hunger, mood changes, body aches, and many other problems. So keep a bottle of water with you as you do your holiday errands, and have a cup within reach when you relax at home.
- Stay physically 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 overlook physical activity. It can increase your mobility and more, preserving your independence in the long run. Ask friends and family to bundle up with you to 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.
- Ask for help. If you’ve always been the one to host holiday gatherings at your home, passing the torch to another family member can be bittersweet. 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. But it shouldn’t have to fall on your shoulders.
- Don’t stress about gifts. Many people on a fixed income might find that their financial limitations keep them from purchasing many gifts. It’s okay if you can’t get the perfect gift for every family member. You can lower your stress and let yourself enjoy the season more by having a family grab bag or drawing numbers.
- Let yourself 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 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, 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.
- Consider purchasing a medical alert system. These products have developed from clunky, at-home systems to discreet mobile devices. The best Medical alert systems help older adults feel safe and secure inside and outside their homes when running errands, taking a walk, or even completing everyday activities like showering or cooking.
Holiday Safety Tips & More From MeetCaregivers
Don’t ignore winter nutrition for seniors. But if you or your loved one needs a little extra help around the kitchen this season, let us help!
An in-home caregiver can assist with many needs, from routine care to transportation. Homecare services can go a long way to improve holiday senior safety.
Call us at 1 (888) 541-1136 or Find A Caregiver today to get started.
Visit our Blog for resources and tips for aging in place, caregiving, and more.
- Brown, D. M. (n.d.). How to Spend Time with Your Family While You Care for (and Live With) a Family Member. ParentGiving.com. Retrieved April 27, 2022, from http://www.parentgiving.com/elder-care/spend-time-family-care-for-live-with-family-member/.
- Samuels, C. (2021, August 13). Adjusting to Living With Elderly Parents. APlaceForMom.com. Retrieved April 27, 2022, from https://www.aplaceformom.com/caregiver-resources/articles/living-with-your-aging-parent-doesnt-work