Help Seniors Feel “Home for the Holidays”
(This blog post is a contribution from Kindra French, owner of 101 Mobility in San Diego.)
It’s December! Crazy! For most of us, the Holiday Season is in full swing. This time of year is such a joyful season for celebrating with friends, gathering with family and loved ones, and enjoying the simple pleasure of just being with people that you care about.
But for some, the challenges of limited mobility due to aging or disability present seemingly insurmountable obstacles that undermine the joy of the season. My husband’s parents are in their 90s, and until recently, surprisingly spry. About five years ago, they stopped hosting Christmas gatherings in their home, and our house became the place to celebrate the season with family. We live in a typical Southern California house: two stories, a little step up to the front door, a great room style kitchen and dining area, and a typical guest bathroom. A perfect place to host a family Christmas. Or so we thought.
We’ve discovered that our home lacks “visit-ability.” For a home to be considered visit-able, the first level must be completely accessible to an individual in a wheelchair. That means that hallways and doors are wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair, the home’s entry allows for ease of access, and all living and dining areas create maneuverable space for a wheelchair.
Last Christmas, navigating our home was extremely challenging for Daddy, who uses a walker. We’d arranged a comfortable seat at the end of our dining table for him, and he joined us at the table with a little effort. But the restroom was a completely different story; suffice to say, he’s not a fan of our small powder room.
This year, after Mother’s stroke has confined her to a wheelchair, a visit to our home is no longer even a possibility. Our family is not alone in facing new challenges in getting together with aging or disabled loved ones. Yet, a few simple, inexpensive steps in time for the holidays will create a much more visit-able environment, and could bring everyone home for the holidays.
Here are a few measures you could take to make everyone feel welcome this season:
- Consider installing handrails and non-skid surfacing on entry stairs to provide safety and stability.
- Remove scatter rugs, or high-pile loose carpets. These pose a tripping hazard and can cause difficult maneuvering for wheelchairs.
- Replace towel bars and toilet paper dispensers with multi-functional decorative grab bars in restrooms.
- Install motion sensing faucets in kitchen and bath to allow ease of use.
- Enhance lighting along walkways for increased security and fall prevention. Consider motion sensing lights for outdoor pathways and interior hallways.
- Eliminate excess furniture to create more space for movement within living areas.
- Install levered door handles, which are both visually appealing and easy to operate.
These quick fixes will help ensure a safe visit for our loved ones with mobility challenges this holiday season and for years to come!
Ready to improve the “visit-ability” of your home? 101 Mobility is here for all your mobility and accessibility needs. Our company has many years of experience helping place seniors, caregivers, and disabled individuals with the equipment needed to stay independent in their lives. If you’d like to reach us, call 1-800-809-1905, send us an email at the Contact Us page, or leave us a comment below.