While it is hard to think about our final years of life, it is important that we consider what is needed to make these years are comfortable as possible. If you are growing older or are helping to care for someone who is elderly, it is important that your home is equipped for these needs. There is certain equipment and tools that you can have on hand that make life simpler as aging begins.
From entertainment to showering, daily life activities can become more challenging with age. These struggles can become even larger with certain illnesses, health struggles, or mobility concerns, which will require specific tools for daily use. However, our comprehensive list will break down everything you need in your home to make elderly care and living simple.
Canes, Walkers, or Activator Poles
Unfortunately, as we age, it can become more difficult to move around with ease. This often makes it important to ensure your home is equipped with some form of equipment that can help with mobility. Many may not need a cane or walker daily, but rather when doing certain things around the home.
A newer, more advanced form of mobility equipment is the activator pole. This is made using dual poles that offer lateral stability. This is great for those who are suffering from chronic pain, MS, Parkinson’s disease, and other ailments.
One positive about adding some form of mobility equipment is that you can often have these paid for through insurance. If this is something that you or someone you are caring for may need, consulting a physician may be your first step.
Throughout our list, you will see that there are several handles mentioned, this is simply because it can be challenging to go from a laying or sitting position back to standing. One area that can benefit from having a handle added is the bedside. This should be in an easy position for it be grabbed while raising up from the bed.
While this can be bit a bit unsightly, you can usually find bed handles that are in neutral colors or may match the room’s aesthetic. They are often easy to install and can be placed in almost anywhere. You simply want to ensure that the handle is easy to reach, durable, and stable enough for added support.
Medical Alert Necklace
While this may not technically be equipment, it is something that can be critical if needed. A medical alert necklace or bracelet is an excellent way to maintain independence and peace of mind. By simply wearing this small device, you can alert a call center in the case of a fall.
Some top choices for medical alert necklaces are:
- Medical Guardian
- Medical Alert
- One Call Alert
- Philips Lifeline
- Life Alert
- Life Fone
- Aloe Care Health
Many of these alert necklaces and bracelets have technology that can actually detect if you have fallen and will call those on your list to alert of this suspected fall. There are several companies that offer these alert necklaces, and many are very affordable or even covered by insurance. These have proven to save lives and are great for those who want to live alone.
TV Hearing Assistance
Often, older individuals may not be as active outside of the home, whether this be due to retirement or health issues. This makes having entertainment options at home a priority to lower boredom and keep up to date on the outside world. However, hearing can be more difficult with age and having and audible device can help.
While true hearing aids will need to be prescribed by a doctor, you can also purchase a hearing device that assists simply when watching television. These devices are worn like a headset and will allow you to listen to the television through the headset. This allows the listener to hear clearly without turning the volume to highly and disturbing others in the home.
Buttoning Aid Hook
This is a device that makes dressing oneself easier as it hooks buttons and threads them through a garment for the wearer. For those who are fully able, this may seem like a mundane and easy task. However, those with arthritis or other fine motor issues may struggle with this task significantly.
Not being able to dress oneself properly can be challenging and hinder independence. By simply adding this tool to your home, this will alleviate one issue that may arise during daily tasks. These work great for practically any buttons from blouses to jeans.
Anti-Slip Shower Mat
Many homes have these regardless of the age of those living there. However, adding an anti-slip bath and shower mat becomes even more important with age. These are sold practically anywhere and can be bought at a very low price.
Once you purchase the anti-slip bath or shower mat, you simply adhere it to the bottom of your tub and it will help protect against slips. Of course, this does not eliminate the risk of falling entirely, but it can increase safety quite substantially.
Going hand in hand with the anti-slip mat is the shower chair. This may not be necessary for someone who is still quite mobile and can shower normally. However, if you or someone you are helping care for struggles to take a shower while standing, it can be much easier to add a shower chair.
These become even more important when recovering from injuries or surgeries. Most bath and shower chairs will hold up to 300 pounds and are very durable. You do want to ensure that you are purchasing a bath or shower chair that fits the bathroom properly.
Toilet and Shower Safety Rails
As mentioned, having handrails throughout the home becomes extremely important as those living in the home grow older. A major way to continue living independently and go through daily tasks easily is to have handrails throughout the home. One of the most important places to put these rails is in the restroom.
It is important that you install the grab bars or safety rails in a way that can be easily grabbed and offer support. Some things to keep in mind are:
- The grab bar should be able to support a person weighing up to 250 pounds.
- You will want to keep in mind the overall size of those living in the home. The height of the bar should be altered for a smaller individual while a taller individual may need something a bit higher.
- Traditionally, grab bars are installed around three feet from the shower floor.
- When installing safety bars around tubs, the ADA recommends using two bars. One should be on the back wall and one should be parallel from the base of the tub.
- You can also install these bars near the rims of the tub, shower, and it is recommended to use two bars near the toilet areas.
They should be securely attached to the wall and offer reliable support. Once again, this does not guarantee that no falls or other issues will arise but can greatly lower the number of injuries.
While this is a bit more of a frivolous purchase, it is one that can be very beneficial. One issue that many have with living independently is maintaining their home. Many housecleaning tasks can still be managed but vacuuming and mopping can be quite difficult and strenuous.
Luckily, today there are more options than ever before when it comes to making home cleaning simple. There are several robots that can do the vacuuming and even mopping for homeowners completely. These robots can be a bit expensive but can be a great addition to the home.
Recliner with Power Lift
Another area that many do not think about until it becomes challenging is getting in and out of a chair. Many homes have recliners in the living room areas, and they work well for all ages. However, as you become older getting out of a recliner style chair can become challenging and, in some cases, dangerous.
By adding a recliner that has power lift, the individual sitting in the chair can be assisted to a fully standing position. This makes sitting down into the chair and standing up out of the chair simple. Though they can be expensive, these chairs are great for those with arthritis, hip problems, leg and knee issues, or a variety of other ailments.
This is similar to the button assist mentioned earlier and helps to pull up zippers. Once again, this task may not seem challenging to many but can be what is stopping others from living more independently. The tool essentially hooks to the zipper and helps pull it up without the need of a small pincher grasp.
These work great on practically any zipper and can be useful for almost anyone who struggles with fine motor skills or arthritis. This is one of the cheapest and simplest tools you can add to your home.
Large Button Telephone
One thing that is extremely important when it comes to elderly individuals living alone or semi independently is that they can contact others if needed. This is critical in the case of an accident, but it is also important for basic socialization. Unfortunately, some traditional telephones can be challenging for older individuals to use.
Luckily, there are many companies that are now offering larger button telephones, which make use easier than ever before. In fact, some of these more accessible phone options feature hearing aid compatibility as well. Purchasing these accessible phones is a great way to ensure easy communication.
Senior Specific Mobile Phone
Going hand in hand with the previous gadget is a senior specific cell phone. Though this is not a major necessity in the home, it is something that needs to be purchased for an older individual that will be leaving the home on their own. Today mobile phones can be easier to obtain and can help with independence.
Some great choices for senior mobile phones are:
- Jethro Senior and Kids Phones
- Jitterbug Easy-to-Use Cell Phone
- Mosthink Simple Senior Cell Phone
- Alcatel Raven
- Apple iPhone
- Huawei Mate 10
Of course, you will want to assess how tech savvy you or the individual you are purchasing the phone for are. If you are more tech savvy, almost any mobile phone will work well and an be easily used. However, those who are not tech savvy may benefit from a senior specific cell phone, which will have larger buttons and be more simplistic.
When searching for a phone, ensure that it has larger buttons, adjustable sound, and can be programmed with frequent numbers. If the individual the phone is being purchased for feels comfortable with the mobile phone, it may replace the landline. Overall, this is another great option for increased independence and safety.
Most have heard of the Ring doorbell and it is a great tool for increasing safety. There are other brands on the market, but Ring is one of the leaders when it comes to video doorbells. They not only work wonderfully as a traditional doorbell, but also increase safety due to their video aspects.
For those who are growing older but continue to want to live independently, these video doorbells are a great tool for safety. They allow the homeowner to see who is at their door before answering and while they are away. This also works well at night and when alone as it videos movement, keeping you safe from potential threats.
Of course, the Ring doorbell can be a bit more costly as it requires you to pay monthly fees. However, it can provide a peace of mind that you cannot put a price on.
Easy Key Turner
This is another great tool for those who suffer with fine motor skills or deeper issues like arthritis. One thing that those who struggle using their hands often have issues with is turning the key in the doorknob. There are inexpensive tools called easy key turners that help with opening doors by turning the key for you.
For those who want to live alone, this is an easy tool to add to your home that can assist with this. Whether it be kept in a safe place for opening the door upon arriving home or thrown into a purse, this is an easy way to open doors without additional help.
Once again, entertainment should not be something that suffers due to age. When living alone and especially as we grow older, things can begin to get lonely. Having added entertainment, such as books, around the home is critical to living a full life.
Unfortunately, being able to easily see what you are reading can become challenging as your eyes age. This makes adding a book light an easy and inexpensive option that helps with this. Book lights are available at practically any homeware store and most online websites.
If you find that it is becoming harder to read and see the words clearly, adding a booklight is a great option. This also makes reading in lower light much simpler.
Big Button TV Remote
This follows along with the previously mentioned importance of entertainment. Watching TV can become a way for those who are older and living at home to stay entertained and connected with the world. Often, traditional remotes can be hard to see and make using the television difficult.
There are several options of bigger button TV remotes that are on the market today. These can be linked with a variety of televisions and make using the TV simpler. The buttons are large enough to be easily seen and the remote is a bit more simplistic, making it perfect for those who are older to use.
Smart Home Device
While some older individuals shy away from technology, it is actually a great way to stay connected and live more easily. There are several smart home devices on the market today such as the Amazon Echo Dot, Google Nest, Alexa, and more. These can be a bit expensive, but many are under $100 and can be purchased on sale for very affordable prices.
Some ways a smart hub can benefit those using them are:
- They can play music
- They can read audio books.
- It can be used to make phone calls and send texts.
- You can check local weather, news, or other current events.
- They can be used to set timers or alarms.
These devices are great for those who want to easily stay connected and can be a major asset to elderly individuals. When equipped with other smart devices around the home, they can even use these smart hubs to turn on lights or other appliances in the home.
This is another tool that does not seem important until you realize that you need it. When it comes to dining, there can be several issues that arise as you grow older. Those who struggle with muscle control may have difficulty eating without moving their plate.
There are several non-skid dinnerware options that will help keep the plate or bowl still on the table when eating. While this may not completely stop spills, they can lower the risk of spills substantially. This is an expensive addition that can make daily life much simpler.
Unfortunately, a major part of growing older is often having more medications prescribed. This means that managing these medications can be a challenge and it can be easy to overtake or undertake medication. Of course, this can be extremely dangerous but is a common issue amongst older individuals who are living independently.
Some benefits of using these medicine organizers are:
- They are very inexpensive.
- They can be used weekly or even for more extended periods of time.
- They can be filled with medications beforehand. This means a caregiver can fill the organizer and it can be easily used.
- They significantly lower the chances of overtaking or undertaking medication.
- There are options that are equipped with alarm clocks. This will ensure medication is taken at the same time daily and is not forgotten.
Overall, this is a cheap but highly practical addition to any home.
Raised Toilet Seat
Though we have previously mentioned adding handrails around the restroom, another beneficial tool is a raised toilet seat. This will really depend on the current toilet that you have and the overall mobility of those living in the home. However, a raised toilet seat is a great way to make using the restroom easier.
These toilet seats essentially make the toilet taller, lowering the distance between sitting and standing. This puts less strain on the legs and is great for those who struggle going from sitting to standing. Of course, this does not completely eliminate the need to sit and stand, but rather makes it a bit easier.
Larger Print Books
Another important thing to add to the home that can make daily life more fulfilling is larger print books. These can be either reading books or word searches and coloring books. By adding larger print books, it can be easier for an older individual to use these.
Most often, these books are not much more expensive than traditional books. Even more so, adding word searches or other puzzle style books to the home can help work the brain. This is one way to increase brain function and stay sharp.
Blood Pressure Monitor
Depending on any health issues present, a blood pressure monitor is an important tool to add to the home. If you struggle with higher blood pressure or ailments that can affect blood pressure, this is even more important. By purchasing a blood pressure monitor, you can regularly check your blood pressure and ensure the numbers are what is needed.
There are several types of blood pressure monitors available today, even those that can be worn on the wrist and used regularly. You will want to consider these available options and choose the one that best fits your health needs.
Tablet or iPad
Another easy way to stay entertained that can also help keep you connected is an iPad or tablet of some type. While these may be a bit harder to master for some less tech savvy individuals, there are several tablets that are designed with older users in mind. In fact, there is even a tablet called the GrandPad which is designed to make it use easy.
These larger devices can also be better for facetiming or social media use for elderly users. They can be easier to see than a small mobile phone or similar device. Overall, this is a great option for those who want to stay connected and can be used for added entertainment.
This is a newer technology that you may not have heard of but is becoming more and more popular amongst elderly individuals who want to maintain independence. These tile stickers help prevent losing items that may be used daily around the home. They can be placed on practically anything, as they are small in size.
How this works is you will place the tile sticker on your phone, keys, remote, wallet, or any other easily misplaced item. The Tile Stickers app will need to be downloaded onto your mobile device and it will connect with these stickers. Via Bluetooth, you will be able to easily locate the items that have been marked with the stickers.
Many are using these stickers for those with dementia or similar diseases that affect memory. They can be great for those who are more tech savvy to use on their own or can be used by a caregiver to easily retrieve items around the home.
If you already own a mobile phone, most have their own version of a fitness watch. For example, the Apple Watch can easily be connected to an Apple phone. These are a great way to monitor fitness along with a variety of other health goals.
Some top choices for fitness watches are:
- Apple Watch
- Samsung Galaxy Watch
- Letsfit Fitness Tracker
While many older individuals are not working out extensively, monitoring heart rate, oxygen levels, and overall fitness can be very beneficial. They also allow the wearer to easily make phone calls from the watch, which can be life saving should an accident occur. This may not be the first tool on our list you purchase, but is a great option for independent living.
Motion Sensing Lights
When walking through the home during later hours, it can be very risky if there are not lights easily available. Turning on lights throughout the home as you walk can be a bit tedious and may still require you to walk through the room with limited lighting. Adding motion sensor lights can be a great way to avoid falls and provide easy lighting.
You can simply purchase a few motion sensor lights to put into the main rooms you will use in the evening hours. For example, you may want one in the restroom, kitchen, and hallways that may be accessed. This will allow the light to come on as someone goes throughout the home, giving a clear view and lowering the risk of falls.
Burner Alerts for Stovetops
Often, living independently for someone who is becoming forgetful or suffering from early stages of dementia can be a bit dangerous. A major reason behind this is because these individuals can begin leaving doors unlocked, candles burning, using appliances inappropriately, and in this case leaving stovetops on. Of course, this can be a major fire risk.
By purchasing burner alerts for stovetops, those in the home will be alerted by beeping at regular intervals. This will make it easier to recognize that the stovetops are still turned on and turn them off before an issue arises. This is a simple tool that can increase the safety of the home exponentially.
Make Elderly Living Simple
Of course, not all of the tools and appliances on our list are mandatory for independent or safe living, but many can make living much simpler. It is also important to recognize the health and physical limitations that those living in the home have, which will help make choosing the correct devices much simpler. Over time, adding these tools to the home can make independent living safer and easier.
The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this Blog article are not intended to amount to advice, and you should not rely on any of the contents of this Blog article. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this Blog article. OccupationaltherapyBlog disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this Blog article.