'Elderly-proofing' your home for the holidays

"Elderly-proofing" your home for the holidays

You have probably heard the phrase "baby-proofing your home" before, but have you ever thought about making sure your home is also safe for elderly friends and family?

7News goes on a home tour to find out some of the surprising hazards that you need to be aware of before older relatives are at your home for the holidays.

Starting in the living room, big, plushy couches and chairs might be your answer to relaxation after a long day, but Dr. Nishi Gupta with Imperial Medical Group says they can be tough for the elderly to get in and out of without help.

"We don't recommend the big comfy chairs because they offer less support," said Dr. Gupta.

Next, turn your attention to the floor and a common tripping hazard: rugs.

"It's best to use the ones that are thin," said Dr. Gupta, "You want to avoid the furry kind and if you have a rug, make sure it has a grip."

Once you know that the floor of your home is secure, check the steps outside and other uneven surfaces.

"You want to watch any uneven surfaces and stay close by," said Dr. Gupta, "You want to be able to offer a hand for support."

When it comes to cooking, be a hospitable host by accommodating dietary needs.

"If you want to stick to the recipes that you already have, it's a great idea to use substitutes," said Dr. Gupta, "instead of sugar, try to use the baking Splenda. If someone has heart disease, high blood pressure or kidney disease, it's a good idea to use salt substitutes."

If your house guest also likes to spend some time in the kitchen, little changes can help to ease their comfort. Simple things like swapping out a skinny utensil for one that is wider can make a big difference for someone with arthritis.

"You'll notice that some people just have trouble making a full grip and it comes with age for some types of arthritis, so having a wide handle makes it easier for them to stir," said Dr. Gupta.

If your guest is staying overnight, make sure there is a step stool if your bed is raised and the things they need close by.

"People generally like to maintain their privacy, so you might not know that they take medications," said Dr. Gupta, "it's a good idea to go ahead and leave a glass of water and an empty pill box for them to use."

With these safety measures, your guests - young and old - are on track for a safe holiday season.

*Immune systems also become more compromised with age, so make sure you are washing your hands and have clean surfaces at your home. After a big meal, taking a walk is a great way to get moving and enjoy some vitamin D.

Copyright 2012 KPLC. All rights reserved.