Now that the holiday season is here, family gatherings are taking place everywhere. During this time, it’s important to ensure a welcoming home that’s accessible for holiday visits from older family members or friends. Here are some ways to help loved ones age-related needs and sight loss feel comfortable and included during their holiday visit at your home.
Why Holiday Visits are Important
During all the festivities, it’s easy for older individuals or people with sight loss to feel isolated and depressed. They may feel left out because they aren’t able to participate in all the activities the way they used to. Many aren’t as mobile and can’t be out and about. Receiving Christmas cards could be a bittersweet reminder of friends that are no longer around. Some may feel like their visual impairment keeps them from contributing to holiday preparations. Worst of all, they may even feel that they are being a burden or an inconvenience to the family.
When you’re having loved ones over for the holiday, these are some of the feelings and situations you’re mitigating. Family and friends can make such a big difference in helping someone feel a sense of belonging. Little ones can really make grandparents smile, helping them to focus less on age-related difficulties. When your family activities and your home is accessible for holiday visits, it makes an even greater impact.
Preparing the Whole Family
Adult children of older parents have to be mindful of the whole family, both their older parents and younger children. When older family members are coming over it’s important to help little ones be sensitive to their needs. It’s one thing for children to enjoy a quick visit to Papa and Nana’s, it’s quite another thing for them to live in the same space for a few days.
Little ones need to be reminded that their grandparents need quiet and restful moments during the day. It’s also important for them to respect the areas of the home that their grandparents will be staying in. Older children can be reminded to be helpful. They can be responsible for specific tasks and be especially helpful for certain situations during their grandparents’ stay.
If you haven’t seen your parent, in-law, or friend for some time, you may need to prepare yourself emotionally. Expect to see signs of age-related changes when they come to visit. It’s not always easy to see older parents needing help when they’ve always been independent. Keep in mind that change is natural and there are many ways to spend time with loved ones at every stage of life.
Making the Home Accessible
Along with cleaning, helpful arrangements could be made for family or friends who are older or have a visual impairment.
Assign them to a room that is accessible. Many older adults struggle with stairs. If there’s a way, make them comfortable on the first floor. Likewise, make sure they can easily get to the bathroom. For loved ones with low vision provide adequate lighting, especially during the night. They may need to go to the bathroom or the kitchen and need the light to navigate an unfamiliar environment.
For family members who are severely sight impaired, be sure to eliminate any obstacles. Put out of path clutter they can easily bump into or trip over. When they arrive, take the time to really familiarize them with where everything is. They may easily pick up the house layout, or it may take several go-arounds for them to become confident. Start by making sure they can easily navigate their room.
Just as important, show them how to work things around the house. For example, how to get water from the fridge. Is there a button for toggling between ice and water? Would it help to temporarily put a marker on appliances they’ll be using.
Makie Holiday Activities Accessible and Inclusive
Help them feel welcome by taking the time to prepare for their visit and making your home comfortable and accessible. Additionally include them in preparations and family activities. Even if they just have a cup of tea and talk while you prepare meals in the kitchen. Or just sit comfortably and listen as the children decorate the Christmas tree. These simple things will bring joy, warding off feelings of isolation.
Let them have a voice in the family by listening to their stories and experiences. Avoid overloading the family with festivities that are too tiring. If necessary, make provisions for someone to keep them company while the rest of the family are out.
Additionally, when they are participating in family activities, don’t forget to always take a moment to describe to them what’s going on. They may not be able to see and need help to fully participate.
By addressing your loved one’s needs and making your home accessible, the family can be less stressed and more focused on the joy of being together. After all, Christmas is the season for giving and family, so it’s especially important for everyone to feel loved and included no matter what.
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