The holidays are here, and across the world families are gathering to celebrate and fellowship with one another. If you’re having people over, you’ve probably planned the meals and cleaned the living room. But have you thought about how to accommodate your mobility-challenged or disabled guests?
Here are some simple, short-term solutions for common accessibility issues you can implement to create a welcoming, accommodating environment for visiting loved ones.
- Evaluate the entry options for your disabled guests to see which door will has the lowest threshold and easiest point of entry. Be sure the pathway is clear for the guest to pass through.
- Reserve a parking space near the entrance for your house so that you minimize their exposure to harsh winter elements and shorten the distance from car to door.
- Have a sturdy chair with arms available for your disabled guest to use. This type of chair makes it easier for your guest to get up after sitting.
- If your guest is wheelchair bound, clear ample space for the wheelchair where everyone will gather so that he/she can socialize with other guests.
- Remove tripping hazards throughout the house.
- Keep rooms and hallways well-lit.
- While many people love pets, you may want to put them in another room if you’re concerned they might accidentally trip up your guest. Same is true for dogs who may get overly excited and jump on guests to greet them as they first come in. Though these lovable creatures mean no harm, they increase the fall risk of disabled and elderly guests.
- Do you have a bathroom on the main floor? If not, and your guest cannot use stairs, perhaps you can set up bedside commode in a private room for them to use. These are portable toilets that do not use running water. Instead, they have a container under a chair-like frame and seat that can easily be removed for cleaning.
- If you do have a usable bathroom, consider adding a raised commode seat (available also with arms) to make it easier for your guest to raise and lower onto the toilet.
- For those who will be showering, a suction-based grab bar provides additional support without being permanently mounted onto your shower tiles. You may also consider an inexpensive bath stool to allow him or her to sit while bathing and reduce the risk of falls.
- Ask in advance if your guest has dietary restrictions or specific mealtimes. Try to be accommodating to them.
- If you’re serving food buffet style, offer assistance by to fill his/her plate and bring it to him/her.
- If your guest has dexterity issues, consider special silverware or drink ware that will be easier for your guest to use.
Happy holiday parties!