If a senior will be spending time at your or a loved one’s home this holiday season, Brookdale Senior Living offers tips to help you prepare to make your home safer and more welcoming. Falls pose a particular threat to older adults but can be prevented.
The CDC reports that falls are the leading cause of fatalities and are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries to people 65 and older. Being in a less familiar environment can contribute to a senior’s risk of falls or injury. They are navigating a layout that’s different than their own home, without the accustomed lighting, and possibly dealing with stairs and other features that could be difficult.
Brookdale Senior Living experts encourage you to check out these simple measures that you can take ahead of time that can make a major difference:
Health and Wellness: Discussing your older loved one’s routine, including medications, will help you and your guest be on the same page regarding their needs. Important things to consider during the discussion:
- what medications are they taking and how often are those needed
- routine meal schedules and any dietary restrictions/preferences
- volume/noise levels in the home – increased commotion and activities could lead to more agitation
“Whether your older loved one is living at home or in a senior living community, talking to them or the care staff at their community will help you have a more successful visit,” advised Camille Jordan, senior vice president of Clinical Services. “Find out what will make them more comfortable and relaxed in your home.”
Home and Décor: Remove items lying on the floor; put away accent rugs, and remove or tape down power cords. If you need to keep the mat in your entryway, make sure it is secured with non-slip material. Clear leaves and other debris from outside pathways leading to the house.
“It is important for a senior family member to feel safe like they can move around and take care of themselves the best they can,” shared Laura Busalacchi, senior director of Interior Design. “The peace of mind that the family can have knowing that you don’t have to be ‘on’ all of the time, knowing that you did everything you could so there is no tripping or falling, is an added benefit.”
Activities: Proactive planning can help the holiday experience feel wonderful for the entire family. Determine what is meaningful to your family and what is (or isn’t) a priority. Be cognizant of your guest’s regular activity levels and try to plan activities that both include them but also allow them not to participate. Encourage multiple generational activities to help connect younger children with older adult guests.
“Bringing generations together to celebrate is what the holidays are truly about,” said Charles Richardson, senior director of Resident Programs. “You don’t have to plan an outing. It’s about spending meaningful time together, feeling included, and enjoying good company.”
Dining: If you are hosting a guest with dementia for a holiday meal, keep in mind the disease can cause visual and physical changes that have an impact on the dining experience. Several simple measures can make mealtime easier and more enjoyable for those living with dementia.
- Use contrasting colors on the table to help overcome depth-perception issues. Set light-colored plates against a dark tablecloth or vice-versa. Prepare food of varying hues, so that meat and vegetables are easy to differentiate.
- If the person is living with advanced dementia, it may help to serve the meal in a shallow bowl and provide a spoon, rather than using a flat plate and a fork. It will be easier for your loved one to maneuver the food against the side of the bowl and into the spoon than manipulate it with a fork against the plate.
- Reduce possible confusion by cutting down or eliminating centerpieces and other decorations.
- A comfortable environment makes it easier and more enjoyable for guests to remain at the table throughout the meal. Make sure the dining area is at a comfortable temperature and that it is not overly noisy.
To learn more about Brookdale, including its dementia care options, visit www.brookdale.com.