A Safe Family Holiday Visit

Bringing a parent or grandparent home for a holiday family visit is wonderful. The holiday time with shared recipes, playing games, and reconnecting is life-giving for all. For the senior, the family interaction and reminiscing is healthy for body, heart and mind. Unfortunately, a visit away from home for a senior can present a variety of safety concerns. Sadly, I have experienced too many clients going home for a family visit and ending up in the hospital. However, if you take the time to learn and plan, you can have a safe family holiday visit! Here are 20 ways to help your holiday family visit remain festive and safe:


Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

While I am a physical therapist, I am not your personal therapist. This blog is for general educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice. You should follow your personal health team’s instructions. Please see the medical disclaimer.

Holiday tips to prepare for a safe family visit:

  1. Have a medication list with schedule clearly mapped out so that you don’t miss or mess up the medication routine.
  2. Bring identification (purse or wallet) and health information.
  3. Make sure you have a vehicle that is not difficult to get in or out of, and has room for any walker. wheelchair or device that is needed.
  4. If they will have a long walk, you may want to place a sturdy chair along the path for a short rest break.
  5. Assess your pathway from car to front door for safety. If there is a step or curb (especially if it is without a rail), they may need supervision to get in and out. Most seniors do not use steps or curbs at retirement homes! Even if they are able, they may be out of practise and could lose their balance or misstep!
  6. Assess the path from the doorway to where they will sit. Make sure there is a clear pathway to get there. Ensure any living area rugs are taped down or removed for greatest safety.
  7. Assess the path from the chair where they will sit, to the bathroom. Make sure the floor around the chair, the pathway, and the bathroom floor are all clear of clutter, rugs, or power cords.
  8. If they must use stairs- or even one step- please stay close and help them! Even if there are handrails, they may be at risk of falling. Most seniors do not use stairs or even curbs on a regular basis! They could have difficulty with lack of strength (typically ascending), or it could challenge their balance (typically descending) and cause them to fall.
  9. Plan ahead for where you will have them sit for visiting. A firm chair (or sturdy recliner) with 2 armrests is most supportive and easiest to get up out of. It is best to place them in a seat with an open area to get to and from the bathroom with ease.
  10. Plan ahead where you will have them sit for the meal time as well. A firm chair with 2 armrests is most supportive and easiest to get up out of. It is best to place them in a chair that allows them to get in and out with ease. Consider room for a wheelchair, walker or cane if needed.

Safety tips for the day of the holiday family visit:

  1. Offer food that aligns with their dietary requirements. Too much salt or sugar could lead to health issues (CHF/heart disease and diabetes).
  2. Offer quiet time or place for them to rest if needed. Many people who live alone or in retirement facilities have extended time of quiet and may be overwhelmed with too much noise and activity.
  3. Make sure they stay hydrated.
  4. Remind them to use the bathroom every few hours. That could be a good time to take a short walk to prevent stiffness.
  5. Keep bathrooms, hallways and stairways well lit and stay close for balance support.
  6. Keep their walker or cane close by and make sure they use it.
  7. Try to keep them on their schedule as much as possible.
  8. Make sure the floor around the chair they sit in does not get cluttered with books, magazines or blankets.
  9. Take some time to visit with them and ask them how they are doing.
  10. Send them back with a card or note to remind them how appreciated they are:)

If you are interested in senior focused handouts and trackers click this link for PREMIUM RESOURCES/ ALL ACCESS PRINTABLE PASS  or check out small packets (including senior Holiday Word Search) available at ETSY.COM.

You may want to check out these posts:

My Top 16 Healthy traveling DOs and DONTs

12 Thoughtful Christmas Gift Ideas for Seniors

10 Healthy Holiday Habits for Seniors

8 Tips for Working Holidays in Health Care

Hope for a safe and blessed holiday season!

I would love to hear what you do to stay safe with family visits! Subscribe to the blog for occasional emails, printable freebies and senior focused health tips!

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