The holidays are a wonderful time of year, full of fun and celebration for the whole family. The house is warm and brightly lit. The neighborhood is filled with bright lights. There are wintertime celebrations all around. This is a magical time of year, and one to be enjoyed.
But if you have a loved one in a nursing home this holiday season, you probably have a lot on your mind. If this is the first time a close relative or a parent is in a nursing home, you may have many questions about your loved one's safety.
What should you be concerned about? What questions should you ask? How can you make sure your loved one gets a safe nursing home environment and a holiday experience that's both satisfying and enjoyable?
To help you answer those questions, we gathered a list of a few common holiday nursing home dangers.
Slip and Fall Injuries
Slips and falls are always a danger around nursing homes, but this is especially true during the holidays. With strings of lights all around, trees everywhere, and any number of other bright decorations, the nursing home is likely to be a festive place around this time of year.
But while all those decorations may be a beautiful way to celebrate the season, they may also be a source of falls and other dangers. A shoddily arranged string of lights hanging low across a hallway or other walkway might trip someone. A tree might block someone's path and make it difficult to get around.
In order to avoid slip and fall injuries, make sure your loved one's nursing home leaves plenty of walking space around the decorations. Make sure any cords are tucked away where they can't trip anyone. Make sure decorations are put up and taken down safely.
Burns and Fire Hazards
When we think of fire hazards around the holidays, we usually think of cooking fires or trees that aren't given enough water. The good news is that you probably won't have to worry about these things during the holidays. Nursing home cooking fires are no more likely in December than any other time of year, and the odds of your loved one's nursing home using live trees as decoration are low.
But during the holiday season, there are many celebrations that involve lighting candles. Your loved one may be lighting the candles or simply be nearby when the candles are lit. Sleeves can quickly catch fire and cause severe burns on the arms, or worse. A shaky hand may also accidentally tip a candle and anything nearby that's flammable can quickly ignite.
You may want to check with the nursing home personnel to make sure proper safety precautions are being taken to prevent fires from breaking out, and to prevent burns. Ask about their action plan in the event that a fire does break out or if residents suffer burns. If a loved one is hurt in a fire that happens as a result of neglectful behavior on the part of staff, a nursing home injury lawyer will let you know if you have a case.
With the holiday season, it's quite likely that your loved one's nursing home will be serving foods that aren't normally part of the menu. These unfamiliar foods could be a potential choking hazard, especially if your loved one has difficulty getting food down.
If you think your loved one may be in danger of choking, check with the nursing home staff to make sure there are alternative menu options available. Also inquire about what procedures they have in place to make sure a choking patient receives a rapid and effective response.
Be Safe This Holiday Season
Bearing all these potential dangers in mind, try not to worry too much about your loved one's safety. Request of nursing home staff that the proper safety precautions are in place, but try not to fret too much about it. It's all right to allow yourself to enjoy the season a little, and to help brighten the season for those living and working in nursing homes.