What to prepare for when your house guests are in their 80’s and 90’s
My husband’s 94 year old uncle contacted us saying that he wanted to bring his two sisters to town for a visit (one of his sisters is my husband’s mother). The three siblings are the only ones left from their family of eight; their parents, two brothers and another sister have all passed. He figured it had been over 6 years since the three of them had been together and he knew there was probably not much time left for them to have a last visit. But in order to make this reunion happen, my husband’s uncle said that he would need our help. He would pay for their plane tickets from Utah and Oregon and offer his home for visiting, but he would need us to house them and provide transportation for them to and from the airport and to his home. Of course we accepted his invitation and began preparing for this momentous visit.
We did all the usual cleaning, sprucing up the house, making the beds, and marketing for when company comes to town. But for this special visit, we knew we also had to make other provisions for our elderly guests. That included getting the bathrooms outfitted with non-slip mats, large handles to help them in and out of the shower, a handheld shower nozzle, and a shower chair.
We made two trips to the airport to pick up our honored elderly guests, had a simple but delicious Sunday meal when they arrived, and got them settled for their first night’s stay. All was well as the trip started. But as the visit continued, we quickly learned that there was a lot more to consider when having elderly guests.
- Have an alarm clock. We use our smartphones to wake us up and check the time. Elderly guests are more used to an old-fashioned clock on the dresser to help them keep track of time.
- Watch the stairs. It’s not they can’t go up and down stairs. In fact, our aunt said the stairs actually helped her hip feel better. Their fading eyesight affects their perception of where the steps are. Make sure there are railings or helpful hands to guide and support them as they maneuver steps and stairs.
- Cups, plates, and dishes need to be lightweight. I didn’t even consider that my everyday drinking glasses would be too heavy for them but because they are made of lead glass, my guests had a difficult time handling them. Make sure you have lighter plates, bowls, and glasses on hand for weaker hands and arms. In addition, make sure food isn’t too hot or too difficult to chew. When I made lunch for them one day, I served my favorite tortilla chips because they are so tasty. Unfortunately, they are also very crispy and none of my elderly guests could chew them.
- Figure in extra time. Elderly guests require extra time for everything. Just take a deep breath and don’t hurry them along because that is when accidents can happen. Flexibility is the key.
- Late to rise and early to bed. Elderly guests require extra sleep and even an occasional nap during the day. My elderly guests were ready for their day by 10:30 AM and went to bed at 8:30 PM.
- Listen. Listen. Listen. I made sure I cleared my schedule so that I could be available to assist my elderly guests with meals, transportation, and whatever else they required. By far, the best part of having these elderly guests was hearing the three siblings share stories of growing up in their family and their different accounts of when their parents passed away. Priceless.
Do you have any other tips to adapt to elderly guests?