Accomodate Guests with Disabilities, Special Needs or Mobility Challenges - from the 101 Mobility Holiday Hostess with the Mostess

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Learn how to make disabled or elderly guests feel at home by finding ways to make the house accessible and adaptive so that everyone can enjoy the holidays together.

Holiday Hostess with The Mostess, DIY centerpiece instructions on our Pinterest
Wheelchairs are usually 24-27 inches wide – Walk with one arm extended throughout aisles to ensure enough space.

Inviting family and friends over for the holidays generally brings up thoughts about the menu, decor, and how to keep everyone occupied and everything spotless. Once a host figures those things out, everything should run smoothly. However, some will be faced with the challenge of how to make special accommodations for loved ones this holiday season. Read below to learn how a few adjustments can help everyone feel welcomed and happy.

Mobility Challenged

  • Remove all throw rugs and low-lying clutter that could result in falls.
  • Create a floor plan that allows for maneuverability from serving areas to seating areas, any lounging areas and restrooms. *Rule of thumb: Wheelchairs are usually 24-27 inches wide – Walk with one arm extended throughout aisles to ensure enough space.
  • Have hand sanitizer available, most bathroom counters also do not allow for easy wheelchair access.
  • Extended stays? Pick up a shower seat and install a removable shower head for easy bathing.
  • A ramp rental is particularly useful. The suitcase ramp is the most versatile of products and can serve as a threshold over indoor or outdoor steps. 101 Mobility also offers stair lift rentals and vertical platform lift rentals.

Alzheimer’s or Dementia

  • Engage them! Answer their questions in a positive way; don’t make anyone feel bad for not remembering.
  • Names and recent events may not be easily recalled or remembered at all. This may mean recapping a milestone event that the person was even there to witness.
  • Speak with the caregiver to learn what their emotional triggers or stressors may be. If someone with dementia becomes upset, distraction with a fun activity can be a lifesaver.
  • Lock doors and block off staircases. Put up a sign to direct people to bathrooms.
  • Try to have a bedroom or quiet space prepared, people with dementia may get restless and decide to take a nap.

Developmental Delays

  • Resist the temptation to offer unsolicited advice to parents.
  • Do not undermine the child by addressing the parent with questions like, “Is Sarah excited for dinner?” Instead ask Sarah.
  • Understand that parents need to stick to their child’s routines as closely as possible; prepare a place suitable for quiet times.

Visually Impaired

  • When introducing yourself, give a standard hug or handshake but be sure to say your name as you do so.
  • While introducing someone else, mention what direction they are in, “This is Aunt Lisa to my left”.
  • If dashing out of a conversation to grab a pie out of the oven, remember to say so!
  • Provide detailed verbal forewarnings of any inclines or steps that the guest may incur.
  • When showing a blind guest to the table, placing their hand on the chair and allowing them to take it from there is often enough.
  • If there is food on the table for serving, explain the location of the food by clock measurements, “Rolls at your 12 o’ clock.”
  • Speaking louder is unnecessary unless the person is also hard of hearing.

Deaf or Hard of Hearing

  • No need to yell or make dramatic mouth movements while speaking.
  • Keep eye contact with the hearing impaired guest during conversation, NOT their translator.
  • Keep a text-ready cell phone or note pad and pen handy for when a translator isn't around.
  • Learn a few things in American Sign Language, like “Welcome”, “Eat”, “Enjoy”.
  • Make name cards explaining what each dish is and key ingredients.


101 Mobility

Making the Home Safe –

Caring for Someone with Dementia –

Teaching Kids Manners, Visual Impairments –

Thanksgiving Day in ASL – EverydayASL

Division of Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

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Monique Williams
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