Keeping Seniors Safe for the Holidays


The holidays are a joyful, busy time of year. There is shopping to be done and cookies to be made, homes to be decorated and friends and family to visit. Amidst all the hustle and bustle, it’s important to stay safe and make sure your senior loved ones are doing the same.

The Weather Outside Is Frightful

While the Tri-State area doesn’t get nearly as much snow as places further north, we can still have days of freezing temperatures, ice and snow. If you are a senior living on your own, you should call a reputable heating and cooling company to have your furnace checked annually. You don’t want to find out it doesn’t work in the middle of a sub-zero night. Fireplaces should also be inspected before use.

Shoveling snow and de-icing the driveway and sidewalk is tough on anyone, but it can be dangerous for those with high blood pressure or a heart condition. If you have this type of medical condition, consider asking a family member for help or hiring a service or neighbor kid to do it for you. The same goes for hanging outdoor Christmas lights in the cold and snow – it’s better to be safe than sorry. For those who want to tackle these jobs themselves, make sure you have your cell phone handy in case you fall or need help.

Maneuvering the Malls

Indoor malls are a great place to get a little exercise when it’s too cold to walk outside. Go before the stores open to avoid the crowds and focus on your power walk, or walk through the stores and pick up some gifts along the way.

Unfortunately, thieves take advantage of this time of year, so be aware of your surroundings in the parking lot, mall area, and stores. Park as close as possible to an entrance and avoid deserted parking lots where thieves may be lurking. Keep your keys in your hand when you head to your car and carry your cellphone. If you think someone is watching you, give someone a call; and if someone is coming toward you, call mall security or the police. If you are making multiple stops, stow your packages in the trunk of your car or under a blanket so they are out of sight.

Staying Healthy Over the Holidays

With holiday get-togethers and family parties, it’s easy to over-indulge. It’s fine to give yourself a little leeway when it comes to dietary restrictions, but don’t overdo it by eating too much sodium if you have high blood pressure or too much sugar if you are diabetic. And be sure to think about any medications you take before consuming alcohol, especially if you will be driving home or will need to navigate a set of stairs before the night is over. Some medications react poorly when combined with alcohol.

Take Care of the Seniors in Your Life

Senior loved ones who have recently lost a spouse, are dealing with health issues, or have had to downsize from the family home may not be feeling too cheerful this holiday season. Ask your loved one if they want to talk about the changes that have occurred, but don’t push if it is too painful. Some people may want to honor the memories of someone they lost by carrying on the same traditions, while others may prefer to do something completely different.

Offering to host the family celebration can be a good change of pace, and it can relieve the stress on a senior dealing with health issues. For many older people, traveling by car or plane can be exhausting, so don’t plan a ton of physical activities; offer to let them nap, or spend some time looking through photo albums or listening to Christmas music together instead. Objects that you safely encounter every day can be tripping hazards for seniors. Put pets in a crate who may get underfoot and clear a path through the kids’ toys; remove slippery area rugs or those that could get caught in a walker or cane. For overnight guests, be sure to have adequate lighting from the bedroom to the bathroom so they can safely navigate at night.

Taking care of yourself and your loved ones will help keep this holiday season merry and bright!