dscn3938I was reading an article in the December edition of The Costco Connection (actually, a great read, btw) and came across an article called Grand-proofing.  THEIR article was actually about making the house safe for visiting grandCHILDREN but it occurred to me that this precaution also applies to a percentage of visiting grandparents !

When grandparents come to visit, we need to be aware of both their physical and mental statuses and plan accordingly in order to protect them.

For those seniors who have difficulty walking (perhaps using canes or walkers) or whose vision is impaired, it is important to remove all doormats, area rugs and bath mats. These contribute to tripping and falling. It is also important to keep all toys (this includes pet toys) off the floor for the same reason. Liquid spills should be immediately wiped up. Also remember that stairs may be difficult for seniors to navigate and that they may not want “to bother you” for assistance, so be vigilant .  You might even want to install a safety gate as a reminder to them or as something that will make a noise when they attempt to open it, giving you time to respond.  Doors to basements should be kept closed or even locked.

Have plenty of lighting available, preferably lighting that can be turned on by a switch before an elder enters the room.  There are now 2-part switches available where one part attaches to a lamp and its energy source and the other end simply attaches to the wall on the outside or immediately inside the room. This has been a God-send at my house, keeping my father from tripping over furniture as he enters the den. Also be aware that appliance cords are another tripping hazard. Keep them behind furniture or along the wall.

Secure or remove any unsteady furniture that might be used by an elder for balance .

Remove fragile items from shelves (or remove the shelves completely) that are along the walking path of elders because they WILL use them for balancing and things (and elders) may go crashing.

Coffee mugs may be difficult for elders to hold. Sometimes thermoses with flip-lids work better. Just remember to let the coffee cool a bit before handing the thermos to the elder.

For elders who are using disposable undergarments such as Depends, have a receptacle for their disposal available in a place where elders won’t be embarassed to use it and where young children cannot have access.

For those seniors with dementia, there are even more precautions that need to be taken.

* Lock up all firearms

* Hide the houseplants or place them out of reach.  They might get eaten.

* Have a large calendar and clock available to help keep the elder oriented to the date and time.

* Put away coins or jewelry or any small item that you don’t want added to an elder’s pocket and perhaps permanently misplaced.  [I have purchased special seashells and stones on vacations, adding them to my garden area, only to find them in my father’s dresser at a later date..:)  ]

* Keep doors to basements, garages, and perhaps even the outside locked, if you have an elder who wanders.  Again, a safety gate can be used at stairways.  I have also heard that criss-crossing yellow caution tape works well for elders with dementia. They will seldom attempt to pass through. Notify the neighbors that you have an elder with dementia visiting so that they can be aware of possible wandering. (Is your elder registered with one of the agencies that help recover wandering seniors and is he/she wearing their bracelet at all times?)

*Along those same lines, make sure that you can unlock bathroom and bedroom doors from the outside.

* If you have a fireplace, keep the screen closed and the matches hidden.

* Keep all medications locked up.

* Keep handles on pots and pans turned to the back when cooking….because they may be “interesting” or because they may trip into them, as well.

* Keep the trash can behind a closed door.  Some elders with dementia will find their contents attractive.

* Feed pets and then remove their food from site.  Again, some elders with dementia may find it hard to resist.

* Have a specific place set aside for disposal of Depends-type undergarments. You do NOT want them flushed down your toilet.

* Keep the number of the National Poison Control Center posted: 1-800-222-1222

By ensuring that these safety measures are in place when the grandparents arrive, all of you will have a safer and much more worry-free visit.


Do you feel like you need to hit the REFRESH button on your life? Download our free guide and begin to create your best life yet!