Home safety for seniors is always an important consideration, but for family caregivers who are planning to take a vacation, making sure that the home is a safe place against falls and other emergencies becomes even more essential. Here are some tips for ensuring that your senior loved one stays healthy while you relax and enjoy your vacation.
Declutter and Get Organized
Give your senior’s space a thorough once-over to make sure that excess furniture, baskets, or area rugs are moved out the way to reduce the risk of a fall or the chance that wheelchairs or walkers could have difficulty getting through the rooms. Declutter any areas that block traffic flow or that could jeopardize your senior’s safety when moving from one room to another.
Find Help for While You’re Gone
Before solidifying your vacation plans, host a family meeting to outline the areas where backup care and visitation is needed. You should feel comfortable discussing your desire for a vacation; being open about it encourages your family to band together to help out while you’re away. An elderly home safety checklist, along with a medical checklist, can be helpful in these situations, especially for family members not normally familiar with the senior’s schedule or medications.
If your family members are unable to help out with caregiving, a community volunteer or visiting nurse may be able to assist. The Caregiver Action Network recommends connecting with a group such as the Interfaith Caregivers Alliance, which helps congregations and churches find volunteers to visit the homes of seniors whose primary caregivers are in need of respite. They have more than 1,000 programs and 75,000 volunteers to help with visitation, light housework, and meals. You may also be eligible for funds to help cover the cost of respite care through the National Family Caregivers Support Program, which provides funding for a variety of support systems like adult day care.
Vacation with Your Senior
If you’re traveling with your senior loved one, make sure that your hotel accommodations and vehicle are suitable for your senior. Look for a hotel room with handicap-friendly bathrooms and vans that can hold wheelchairs or walkers. Use the same standards for home safety for seniors in your hotel room as you would in your loved one’s home. The Visiting Nurse Association of New York recommends renting a one-story lodge or cabin, letting the airline know about any special requirements for your senior, and finding out the locations of local pharmacies and clinics in case your senior needs medication refills.
Even if you decide to take your senior on vacation with you, make sure to bring along a backup caregiver so that you can take mental and physical breaks. Both you and your senior loved one should find enjoyment from spending time away from home.