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Put Safety First When Decorating Seniors' Homes

Middle-aged woman decorating her parents' house for the holidays.
Take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable; keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children to avoid the child swallowing or inhaling small pieces; and avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a young child to eat them.

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December 15, 2011

If the grandchildren are coming to your senior loved one’s home for the holidays, help ensure a safe environment. From decorations to presents to food, don’t miss a detail. A Home Instead CAREGiverSM could help pull everything together.

Q. My parents, who are both in their 80s, are expecting a houseful of people this holiday season. Guests will include a number of small children. My folks haven’t entertained youngsters for years. I’m helping them decorate their home for the holidays as well as purchasing gifts for their young guests. Can you give me some suggestions how to make sure their home and their gift-giving are safe?

Decorating for the holidays is a wonderful tradition that you can continue for your parents now that it may be difficult for them to handle that task themselves. And they should be especially happy to know that all the hard work will be enjoyed by children.

Youngsters can make the holidays particularly fun. Following, from the American Academy of Pediatrics, are tips that can contribute to a safe holiday for young guests.

  • Take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp or breakable; keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children to avoid the child swallowing or inhaling small pieces; and avoid trimmings that resemble candy or food that may tempt a young child to eat them.
  • Remove all wrapping papers, bags, paper, ribbons and bows from tree and fireplace areas after gifts are opened. These items can pose suffocation and choking hazards to a small child or can cause a fire if near flame.
  • To prevent both burns and electrical shocks, don't give young children (under age 10) a toy that must be plugged into an electrical outlet. Instead, buy toys that are battery-operated.
  • Children under age 8 can choke or suffocate on uninflated or broken balloons. Remove strings and ribbons from toys before giving them to young children.
  • Clean up immediately after a holiday party. A toddler could rise early and choke on leftover food or come in contact with alcohol or tobacco.
  • Keep a laminated list with all of the important phone numbers you are likely to need in case of an emergency. Include the police and fire department, a pediatrician and the national Poison Help Line, 800-222-1222.

Your family also can make your holiday safer and more enjoyable with extra help from the local Home Instead Senior Care® office. The company’s CAREGiversSM are screened, trained, bonded and insured and could assist you and your parents with many tasks such as food preparation, light housekeeping, errands and shopping.

For additional information, check out the National Safety Council website at www.nsc.org.

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