(KRON) — You may not be able to keep her from getting runover by a reindeer, but there are ways to protect grandma and your other elderly relatives and visitors this holiday season. There are steps you can take to prepare if a senior will be spending time at your or a loved one’s home this holiday season, according to a press release from Brookdale Senior Living.

Falls are one of the greatest threats to grandma and other senior visitors, according to Brookdale. The CDC reports that falls are the leading cause of fatalities and traumatic brain injuries for people 65 and older. Thankfully, they can be prevented.

Falls can pose a greater danger to older adults when they are in an unfamiliar setting, according to Brookdale. “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,” the release reads in part.

Some of the steps Brookdale recommends taking involve:

Home and decor

Removing items lying on the floor and putting away accent rugs, and removing or taping down power cords can all reduce the risk of one of your elderly relatives slipping and falling. Brookdale also recommends clearing leaves and other debris on pathways leading to your 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.”


Planning ahead, being cognizant of older guests’ regular activity levels and trying to plan activities that allow them to take part is also recommended.

“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.”

Health and wellness

It’s also recommended that you discuss your older loved one’s routines, including medications so you can be on the same page regarding their needs during their visit. Things to consider include:

  • 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 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.”

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It’s also recommended to consider the dining experience, particularly if you are hosting an older guest who has dementia. The disease can cause visual and physical changes that can impact the dining experience, Brookdale said. Simple measures recommended to make mealtime more enjoyable for everyone include:

  • Use contrasting colors on the table to help overcome depth-perception issues
  • If a person has advanced dementia, serving their meal with a shallow bowl and a spoon, rather than a plate and a fork may be best
  • Reduce the possibility of confusion by cutting down or eliminating centerpieces and other table decor
  • Provide a comfortable environment to make it easier and more enjoyable for guests to remain at the table through the meal

Following these simple tips can help make the holidays safer and more enjoyable for grandma, grandpa and the rest of your older guests.