Tuesday, February 20 , 2018, 9:04 am | Fair 49º

 
 
 
Your Health
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Rona Barrett: Help Santa — and Seniors — Get a Grip and Not Slip During Holidays

Everybody, sing!

“Up on the housetop slip, crash, crawl,
Poor ol’ Santa took a fall …”

No doubt someone ran an extension cord to string lights and forgot to secure the cord. What a nightmare before Christmas for the tripped up little old driver who will no longer be so lively and quick.

He is, as you know, the eldest elder of all. Mr. Kringle turns a jolly 1,746 years old this year. No wonder he makes a list and checks it twice.

Finally, there is someone as old as I feel!

And because 'tis the season for “the warm embrace of kith and kin” — as Clark Griswold would “thay,” your kith and kin will no doubt include those not as … uh … well, fresh as the newborn snow.

So let’s senior- and Santa-proof our homes so this year our only surprises are the wrapped kind.

Those colorful throw rugs we throw down for the holidays? They’re slippery and can easily trip up the jolly guy, so let’s opt for bare floors or wall-to-wall carpeting.

All those ads and catalogs we use to build a moat around our chairs? Santa may want to peruse them, but let’s eliminate the clutter by using baskets and bins.

We all can relate to how hot chocolate can go right through Santa these days and nights. So in our dark hallways and bathrooms, let’s use adequate nightlights and glow-in-the-dark switches.

Out in the kitchen, Santa’s wondering eyes might poke around for some … Christmas spirits. So let’s put what Santa wants at waist level so he doesn’t have to reach or — God forbid — use an elf as a makeshift step stool.

Help Santa get a grip! Have a sturdy safety grip bar around the toilet and shower. Don’t forget nonslip mats on the shower floor or in the bathtub.

If Santa is going to have visions of sugarplums dancing in his head while he sleeps in your guestroom, make sure a lamp is within reach.

And what do you get the Santa who has everything? Anything but slippers. Don’t let Santa put the “slip” in slippers. Instead, gift Santa with sensible, properly fitting boots with nonskid soles.

Yes, I’m making merry this time of year, having fun with a subject that could be just ho-ho-hum for some of you nonbelieving rebels without a Claus.

But it’s seriously important.

Falls are a leading cause of death from injury among people age 65 or older. One-fourth of seniors who fracture a hip from a fall will die within six months of the injury.

I was just talking to a friend. Her 90-year-old father fell, broke his hip and passed away a few days later.

Her 92-year-old mother fell a week later and broke her hip. My friend doesn’t think her mother will last very long.

And for those who survive? Many lose the gift we elders wish for the most — independent living.

So let’s follow these tips and make sure this holiday season does not become a lost “Claus.”

Until next time … keep thinking the good thoughts.

— For more than 30 years, Rona Barrett was a pioneering entertainment reporter, commentator and producer. Since 2000, she has focused her attention and career on the growing crisis of housing and support for our aging population. She is the founder and CEO of the Rona Barrett Foundation, the catalyst behind Santa Ynez Valley’s first affordable senior housing, the Golden Inn & Village. Contact her at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are her own.

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