Have a Safe and Accessible Holiday!

It’s the holiday season, and no matter what holidays you’re celebrating, you may have family or guests coming to visit. If they have disabilities you may want to consider doing a few things to make it easier for them to have a good time too. The visit may be a short one, or they may be coming for an extended amount of time, but staying safe and enjoying your time together may be easier with a little forethought.

If your family member or guest uses a wheelchair, you might consider adding light switch extenders to the lights in the bedroom they’ll be using. Adding off-set hinges to the door so they can get their wheelchair through may make the bathroom or bedroom more accessible. Small threshold ramps can help those in a wheelchair get from room to room independently too.

Rubber grippers over doorknobs can make it easier for someone with arthritis to open doors, and using a lazy susan at the table may make it easier to serve everyone without the risk of dropping hot, heavy dishes. Using non-slip materials for table mats will help those who have difficulty with plates that slide while eating, and yet still look festive and nice.

Grab bars may seem a bit extreme, but consider that anyone can slip getting in and out of the shower or tub. Having a grab bar that’s strategically placed and anchored firmly in the wall will improve the safety of all users.

You may want to consider adding a riser to the toilet seat in your guest bathroom or even installing a rail around the toilet to keep guests from falling.

During meals, it might be helpful to have a rocker knife or two on hand for those who must eat one-handed. If your guests have arthritic hands, you might want to add some low-cost foam tubing placed over the handles of eating utensils to make them easier to hold.

Speaking of mealtimes, instead of seating everyone at a large table this year, why not let people take their meals on trays where they can spread out a bit more? That way, you reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 among guests. And, keep a supply of extra masks on hand for company to use when they come over.

If you’re having extended family come to eat, strategically place bottles of hand sanitizer and boxes of tissues around the house for their use, and move chairs further apart for safer conversations.

Plan your holidays so everyone remains safe and has an enjoyable time this year. If you’d like help determining what assistive technology items might help in your home, please don’t hesitate to call Disability Network/Lakeshore at 616 396-5326. We’d be delighted to be of assistance and Happy Holidays!

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