The holiday season is upon us and it’s the time when the entire family takes a break from their busy lives to get together, enjoy a special meal and exchange gifts and goodwill.
What better time than this to visit your elderly parents, spend quality time with them and create more fond memories in the home you all cherish so much?
Kyra-Bae Snell from CareAbout – an Aged Care navigator and matching service for families looking for aged care – states that Christmas is often the busiest time of the year.
“CareAbout sees a spike in enquiries over the Christmas and New Year period.
“It’s the time that families get together and notice that Mum and Dad are struggling a bit.
“Maybe the garden has got away from them or the house is in need of some maintenance.
“It’s at this time people call us looking to access some of the generous government funds available to support older Australians to remain living at home.”
Safety is always paramount.
So, leading retirement funding specialist, Household Capital has put together a checklist of holiday safety tips that retirees and their families can explore, in order to make sure the holidays are safe and merry for everyone.
Holiday Safety Checklist
Household Capital’s Holiday Safety Checklist outlines seven tips to keep in mind when helping mum and dad prepare their home for the holidays:
- Prepare the garden
The holiday season means hot, sunny days and we’re sure the whole family will want to enjoy the good weather in the garden. Your parents don’t have to miss out on this but it’s important to ensure the garden is well-maintained and safe for them to move around.
You can help them prepare their garden for the celebrations by clearing paths and removing any overgrown plants or items blocking the way.
It can also be a good idea to check that all surfaces are slip-resistant: having them covered with moss or leaves is a big no-no.
For extra safety, add a layer of non-slip paint on any slippery surfaces and check if any areas need handrails.
Similarly, check timber decking doesn’t have slippery surfaces or protruding nails.
Finally, ensure hoses aren’t loose and pose a tripping hazard – using a hose reel can keep them neat and stored safely.
- Consider rearranging the furniture
One crucial thing to consider when it comes to ageing at home is how the furniture is arranged and how easy it is for elderly people to move from room to room.
This becomes even more important when they have visitors at home – especially little ones who love running around and will sit down anywhere to play with their new toys.
If you’re helping your parents prepare their home for the holidays, make sure there are clear paths everywhere and move any pieces of furniture as needed.
- Be mindful of floor rugs
Floor rugs can easily camouflage cords, toys and other slipping or tripping threats, especially if they’re patterned or dark.
If your parents have a rug in the living room, dining room or wherever the family will spend the most time during the celebrations, consider moving it for the day.
This is especially important if they have vision problems and can easily miss small objects on the floor.
- Choose a tabletop Christmas tree
For those who celebrate Christmas, the holiday season isn’t complete without a fully decorated tree.
However, for mum and dad, it may be a better idea to opt for a tabletop Christmas tree. This will help avoid tripping hazards, as there will be no concealed light cords on the floor and they won’t need to try and move around a big tree in the middle of their living room.
Additionally, tabletop trees are much easier for seniors to decorate without too much physical effort.
The perfect holiday activity to enjoy with the grandkids, especially if your parents have limited mobility.
- Choose your decorations carefully
On the topic of decorations, if you’re helping your parents choose theirs, there are a few considerations to keep in mind.
On the ‘to avoid’ list are twinkling lights, candles and ornaments made of glass or any other materials that could easily shatter.
The lights may disorient older people, especially those with dementia, the candles can be a fire hazard (especially tall ones) and glass ornaments can lead to unwanted injuries.
Instead, choose lights that don’t change colours or blink, battery-operated candles and plastic baubles.
Remember not to decorate things your parents may use for balance, like handrails and grab bars, and go for a simple aesthetic, keeping the clutter at a minimum.
- Have a corner for the little ones
We’ve mentioned before that toys can be a tripping hazard and if there are little ones in the family, chances are that there will be toys galore around the house.
While moving the floor rug will help keep them visible, for extra security, you and your parents can choose a room or a corner where the kids can play with their gifts freely.
- Take this time to speak about the future
It’s not an easy conversation, but it’s an important one.
Checking in with mum and dad about how they’re feeling and how they envision their future will help guarantee they stay happy all through their retirement, wherever it may be.
If, like many Australian seniors, they wish to remain in their family home, it’s important to ensure their home is retirement-ready. Household Capital’s retirement readiness checklist is an excellent resource as it goes through each room, listing simple renovations to make ageing at home not only possible but safe, comfortable and enjoyable.
It’s also crucial to consider aged care services.
What support do your parents need in their everyday life?
Maybe they’d like someone to do the cooking and shopping for them, someone to help upkeep their garden or a full-time carer.
Whatever it is, make sure their care needs are looked after.
Finally, think about funding.
Not everyone has the savings to fund the retirement they deserve and that’s where Household Capital can help.
By drawing on their home equity, mum and dad can meet their retirement needs with peace of mind and host holiday celebrations for many more years to come.
That’s exactly what Mette, 78, decided to do.
She used her home equity to modify her bathrooms, garage and roof, and that has taken her day-to-day comfort to the next level.
Hear her story:
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