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HELP for aging adults, caregivers, aids and devices.
HELP older adults in your home with aids and devices.
Everyday help for the
Older Adult care - Help for everyday movement
Anyone who has seen their loved one grow old has experienced the issues
that come with age. The normal things we take for granted are difficult
for older adults. Taking a shower for example becomes a chore. Older
folks may not be able to stand up for the time it takes to shower.
Walking and balance becomes a problem as we age. Exercise helps slow
the aging of
muscles but is not always possible due to illness or injury. Falls are
a major factor as we age. Even if no bones are broken, a fall can cause
immobility and require a lengthy recovery.
During the recovery and healing process, one can benefit from helpful
aids. For example, a back injury causes pain everytime the person
moves. Getting on and off the toilet becomes a painful chore. A commode
wheelchair is an aid which allows the person to remain stationary while
going to the toilet and help the back heal.
Walkers and rollators help
with balance while walking. Wheelchairs help with mobility for those
who cannot walk. Many caregivers simply do not know that all kinds of
help is available in the form of aids and devices. The caregiver's
burden is greatly lightened when some of these helpful aids are used
and the loved one being helped is much better off.
If you provide care
for your loved one in the home, here are some devices which could help.
Many of these items can be purchased at Walgreens or online at sites
like Amazon.com and delivered to your home. It is up to you to
determine the appropriatness of each device. Consult your health
professional, talk to your friends and ask for help from local
churches, agencies on aging, county, state and federal health
- a walker is a
device which helps the person balance while walking by letting them use
their arms to steady themselves. If the person can stand and walk, even
if very slowly, a walker may help prevent a fall. Preventing a fall is
your goal because broken bones can lead to various other cascading
serious events when older adults are involved.
A walker has four
legs which are height adjustable. A walker typically has two small
wheels in front that roll, and in the rear, plastic sliders on the
bottom. Some people cut a hole in a tennis ball and insert them over
the rear leg frame posts
to give traction and prevent scrapes on a floor. The
walker is lightweight so the person just pushes it forward and walks
while using their arms to steady themselves on the walker's frame.
Walkers usually fold for storage. Walkers come in many sizes, even
youth walkers, which may be appropriate for shorter adult women.
Walkers usually cost $50 to
$75. Anyone who has balance problems or pain while walking may not be a
candidate for a walker. The older adult must have a level of ability to
use a walker safely to avoid falling. If you feel that the older adult
is not safe using a walker, then a wheelchair may be better. Your goal
is always to be safe and above all else, avoid a fall. Consult your
health professional to determine the appropriateness
of using a walker.
- a rollator is like a walker only it has four wheels that
roll along indoors or outdoors when pushed. In addition, a rollator has
a seat and a backrest so that if the person gets tired while walking,
they can sit down. A rollator has two brakes that lock the rear wheels
in place to prevent rolling. Many rollators also have a wire basket or
pouch so you can carry along extras you may need. A rollator can fold
up so it fits in your car. This way if you go to the mall or store, you
have your own aid while walking. The handlebars are height adjustable.
Rollators usually cost from $70 to over $140 with $100 being about
average to get a good
and transport chairs
Wheelchairs have two large wheels in the rear with hand rails for
self-power and two smaller wheels in the front. Most wheelchairs have
two removable foot rests. Wheelchairs can be manual or powered by
batteries. The traditional manufacturers of manual wheelchairs are
Invacare, Medline, Drive Medical, Everest & Jennings and a few
others. Manual wheelchairs cost around $200 and up and can have any
options which can add cost.
Transport chairs have four small wheels and are designed to be pushed
by a caregiver instead of moved by the older adult themselves.
Transport chairs are lightweight and foldable so they fit in a car.
A commode wheelchair is designed to either go over a toilet or just
have a container under the seat. These usually cost more than a
standard wheelchair. The seat has a hole in the center where the person
sits. The container fits under the seat and
can be removed while the
person is still sitting in the wheelchair.
Often you will need a ramp in order to get your wheelchair up a step.
There are portable ramps of all kinds. Another choice is to build a
permanent ramp when needed.
Find someone who knows how to work with concrete if you need to convert
an outside step of a sidewalk, driveway, or walkway. Pouring some
concrete can convert the step to a permanent concrete ramp for the
Portable ramps can be made of aluminum with traction tape on the
surface and can fold up. Read up on these ramps as safety can be
important. Also make sure to measure your required dimensions so you
get a ramp that works. Access to areas without ramps like a park,
church, building or school can become important for the elderly. Most
public places have wheelchair access but be prepared for those that do
bench for bathtub
can be almost impossible for the person
who is immobile and subject to falling. A transfer bench allows the
person to remain seated while moving into the bathtub to shower. You
just sit on the bench and shower. You may need a caregiver to help turn
on the water and adjust flow but
falling is not nearly so much of an
A cane is a simple aid
to help keep your balance while walking. There are all kinds of styles.
Most are inexpensive. There are some with four small legs for more
points on the ground. There are even collapsable canes. Many older
adults use canes to maintain
chair - stationary
These inexpensive chairs can be used at the bedside or over a standard
toilet for support and a raised seat. Height adjustable legs and
armrests with a plastic bucket and seat that can be removed.
Lightweight construction allows for portability. The benefit is the
raised seat for easy down and up plus the faster access than a trip to
the bathroom at night. These chairs can be used for years. Cost is $40
and up. Cleanup is fast as the bucket can be hosed off outside.
toilet raised - slip over raised
To help sit and stand, a raised toilet seat works well. Rather than
install a new raised toilet, you can
buy a toilet seat extension which slips over your existing toilet.
and grab bars
Installing grab bars in the bathroom can help prevent a fall. Grab bars
can be iinstalled inside the shower or anywhere in the bathroom where
the loved one can steady themself. Grab
do not cost much.
To prevent falling out of bed at night and injuring the older adult, a
bed rail can be inserted in the bed, possibly on both sides. Even a
slight jolt in the wrong spot can cause an injury and older adults can
fall out of bed at night.
Anything you can do to prevent an injury is an improvement. Lowering
the bed could help to reduce the shock of a fall out of bed. For a
wooden bed frame, you could consider cutting the bed legs down a few
inches which would lower the bed and reduce the likehood of an injury.
alarm is the magnetic pull alarm which is portable and
will sound an alarm when the patient moves beyond the desired length of
movement. For example, you can put this alarm on the bed or the
wheelchair to alarm if the patient moves too far, such as trying to get
out of bed. Fall prevention is the main benefit. Nursing homes
sometimes use these alarms to prevent falls. A quick reaction to the
alarm is key to prevent a fall. The alarm below has a very good
attachment to the patient, can be wall mounted, has a low battery
indicator and costs less than $30.
- Patient alarm
- Notifies staff
or caregiver that a user has moved
- Alligator clip
attaches to clothing so when user gets up, the cord pulls from the
alarm and the audio alarm is activated
- Easily secures
with self contained clip
- Low battery
- Activation cord
and video monitoring
Monitoring your loved one can be made easier by using systems which
link video cameras, recorders and microphones with a flat screen TV
type video monitor and speakers. Even infra-red cameras that can see in
the dark at night are available.
These beds can be expensive but if you can avoid the nursing home, your
loved one may benefit from living in their own home even when requiring
this type of bed. These beds can raise and lower the head and feet
using electric motors. Cost can be
$1,000 and up. If your loved one needs to be moved in bed, the motors
can do this to help prevent bed sores. Long periods in bed without
moving is not good for anyone.
The simple act of turning a lamp on or off can become impossible if the
older adult has a back injury or cannot move to the lamp switch at
night. By using an electrical cord with a switch in the cord, the
person can turn the light on or off without moving,
except their arm or hand.
bed urinal - a
small plastic bottle type container for the male used
to substitute for constant trips to the bathroom, particularly at
night, when a fall may occur. Keeps the person in bed instead of
getting up to go to the bathroom. It may not be ideal to use this aid
but if a fall can be prevented it could
be worth it.
The bed pan may not be needed but it could come in handy. They do not
cost much. Better have one and not need it than need one and not have
For incontinence during the day or night, it may be a good idea to wear
a brief to prevent accidents. A diaper/brief with a pad inside can
absorb a lot of fluid. There are all sizes and capacities. Depends and
Poise are major brand names. Poise pads work well and Depend underware
also work well. Combine underware and pads together for a better level
of absorbtion. At night a waterproof bad pad can be placed on the bed
to avoid washing sheets everyday. A waterproof bed cover under the
sheets can avoid wetting the mattress. These pads cost only a few
dollars, can be washed and reused.
For Women or Men - Underware briefs
This simple belt
is one of the most useful devices a caregiver can own. Place belt
around the waist/chest of the older adult and the caregiver can control
the balance of the older adult. Use it for transfers out of and into
bed or into wheelchair or chair to wheelchair. Use it to balance and
aid in the balance of the older adult while using a walker to make sure
the older adult does not fall. The belt is adjustable and costs only a
few dollars. Nursing homes, rehab facilities, physical therapy aids,
all use these gait belts on older adults to make sure they do not fall.
The caregiver needs to be strong enough to grab the belt and maintain
the balance of the older adult. For moving the older adult (transfers)
the caregiver needs to be strong enough to prevent a fall.
Backlit keypad assists visibility in low-light areas & bright
screen makes it easy to see phone numbers, text messages and photos
Big buttons with large, legible numbers make dialing easier
Hearing aid compatible (M4/T4 rating) with a powerful speaker so that
conversations are loud and clear
Long-lasting battery withup to 25 days of standby time
Dedicated 5Star button provides one-touch access to medical alert
GreatCall Link smartphone app that keeps caregivers informed about the
health, safety and location of their family members who have 5Star
Medical Alert Service
Health & Safety Packages include 5Star Medical Alert Service,
Urgent Care, Personal Operators, etc.
Alert device - LifeLine
Alarm Medical- One of the
best systems available with a broad range of features, good monitoring
service, a plethora of extra features all at one of the lowest prices
in the industry.
This is arguably the best known alert provider with the catch phrase
“Help! I have fallen and I can’t get up”.
Their cost is a little higher than most and comes with other fees,
however their service is good.
– Offers a great monitoring service keeping medical history
details on file although they do not offer a mobile GPS enabled system.
-A highly trained staff and a superior protocol for answering emergency
calls gives this provider high marks.
Guardian – The
company is a relatively new entrant, beginning sales in 2005 with a
bevy of features.
As their name implies this company specializes in GPS enabled help
monitoring although they lack some features found in other systems.
Lifeline- This service
comes with many optional add-on features such as a medication dispenser
and fall detector.
Has a good core product but lacks many of the additional features found
in competing offers. All agents are trained emergency medical
Response – 5Star
is part of the popular cell phone brand Great Call
and this explains the focus on mobility and absence of a fixed base
Alert systems Reviewed
your loved one need help at home
- Signs to look for:
o Trouble getting up from a seated position.
o Difficulty with walking, balance and mobility.
o Uncertainty and confusion when performing once-familiar tasks.
o Strong smell of urine in the house.
o Noticeable decline in grooming habits and personal care.
o Mood swings.
See this website for more information on care for the aging and