Having your grandparents participate in your wedding celebration is wonderful. The special time with shared memories, celebrating, and reconnecting is life-giving for all. For the senior, the family interaction and reminiscing is healthy for body, heart and mind. Unfortunately, a wedding or family event can be stressful and accessing wedding venues for seniors can present a variety of safety concerns. Happily, many of my senior clients have been motivated toward healthier lifestyles by the excitement of a wedding event. However, I have also experienced clients attending wonderful family events and then ending up in the hospital. Importantly, if you take the time to learn and plan, you can increase the probability of having a safe family celebration! Here are 20 ways to help your wedding or family event remain festive and safe:
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 own health team’s instructions. Please see the medical disclaimer.
Tips to prepare for a safe family wedding celebration:
- Have a medication list with schedule clearly mapped out so that you don’t miss or mess up the medication routine.
- Bring identification (purse or wallet) and health information.
- 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.
- If a long walk is entailed, you may want to place a sturdy chair along the path for a short rest break.
- Assess the pathway from car to hotel or venue door for safety. If there is a step or curb (especially if it is without a rail), they may need supervision or assist 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 practice and could lose their balance!
- Assess the path from the doorway to where they will sit. Make sure there is a clear pathway to get there. Ensure any rugs are secured or removed for greatest safety.
- Likewise, consider the path from the chair where they will sit, to the bathroom. Make sure the pathway is clear and not too far of a walk.
- 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.
- Plan ahead for where you will have them sit for the wedding or event. A firm chair with 2 armrests is most supportive and easiest to get up out of. Consider room for a wheelchair, walker or cane if needed. It is best to place them in a seat with an open area for leg room, and to get to and from the bathroom with ease.
- You may want to assign a family member to be available to assist them during the wedding and reception as needed.
- Plan ahead where you will have them sit for the meal time as well. Again, 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, and get to and from the bathroom with ease. Remember to consider room for a wheelchair, walker or cane if needed.
Safety tips specifically for the day of the wedding or family event:
- Make sure they stay hydrated.
- Offer food that aligns with their dietary requirements. Too much salt or sugar could lead to health issues (CHF/heart disease and diabetes).
- 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.
- Remind them to use the bathroom every few hours. That could be a good time to take a short walk to prevent stiffness.
- Keep bathrooms, hallways and stairways well lit and stay close for balance support.
- Keep their walker or cane close by and make sure they use it.
- Make sure to provide extra assist over non level ground or grassy surfaces.
- Take some time to visit with them and ask them how they are doing. My daughter made sure to let her Grandmother spend some time holding her baby at our last family wedding.
- Send them back with a card or leftover cake to remind them how appreciated they are:)
If you are interested in senior focused handouts and trackers click this link for PRINTABLE HEALTH PACKETS.
or check out small packets (including a checklist for special event safety) available at Creative Home Therapy on Etsy!
You may want to check out these posts:
Here’s to a safe and blessed family celebration!
I would love to hear what ideas you have regarding senior safety with weddings! Subscribe to the blog for occasional emails, printable freebies and senior focused health tips!