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Home for the Holidays

It is that time of year once again! The holiday season can be a wonderful and joyous time for families that come together and build memories. However, it can also be a time of great stress and worry for those bringing home an elderly loved one to visit.

Maybe Mom, Dad, Grandma, or Grandpa live in an assisted living facility. Maybe they don’t get around as well as they used to. Maybe they have had a recent decline in health. Do they have any form of Dementia? Perhaps you want to bring them to your home for a holiday visit. How can you ensure their safety and well-being and still enjoy precious time together? The key is to plan ahead! From pick up to drop off, here is a list of helpful hints that hopefully will create peace of mind and allow for a memorable visit!

Ready Your Home

  • Plan for the easiest entries and exits in your home. Avoid all steps if possible.
    If no handrail is present on steps, have two people on hand to assist.
  • Remove all throw rugs and place cords that may be on the floor in a safe location.
  • Ensure a clear path to living, dining, bedroom, and bathroom areas if your loved-one is ambulatory or in a wheelchair.
  • Prepare for bathroom supervision if you have a low toilet seat.
  • Place nightlights in bedrooms/bathrooms if overnight stays are involved to allow for a clear visual path when getting up at night.
  • Don’t forget about clearing walkways and steps in inclement weather.

Pick Up/Drop Off

  • Gather all the right medications and dosages ahead of time so there is no rush. If your family member lives in an assisted living community and receives medication assistance, ask the nurse to prepare medications for your trip. This will save you time and worry.
  • Don’t forget eyeglasses!
  • Bring all needed assistive devices such as walkers, canes, and wheelchairs.
  • If your family member is incontinent, stock up on supplies to prevent any embarrassing accidents.
  • If an overnight visit is involved, bring their pillow(s) for comfort.
  • If a long car ride is involved and your loved-one has a history of low back pain or other types of joint pain, please plan on regular stops every hour or hour and a half for stretching and repositioning.

During Your Visit

  • Relive good memories by sharing photo albums or videos.
  • Take photos!
  • Supervise all ambulation if your loved one uses a walker, cane, or any assistive device. Many falls happen in unfamiliar environments.
  • If your loved one has trouble getting in and out of chair or sofas, remember:
      • Scoot Forward, Lean Forward ! Have them scoot forward on the chair or sofa.
      • Place hands on armrests or chair surfaces if no armrests. (DO NOT allow them to stand by grabbing their walker!)
      • Encourage them to lean forward when they stand up! “NOSE OVER TOES” makes transfers easier!
  • Watch for swelling in the legs/feet and elevate periodically if needed.
  • If your loved one has Dementia, try and stay as close to their normal routine as possible. Avoid involving them in too many tasks at once and attempt to have on hand some of their favorite foods!
  • Delegate tasks to other family members to avoid stress and allow you to visit.

By Dr. Shawn Weiss, PT, DPT
Owner, Select Home Care
President, Senior Health and Wellness Group