- Home Safety Tips for Seniors
- Adaptive Equipment
- How Durable Medical Equipment Can Ease Daily Living of Seniors Living Alone?
- Fall Risk of Older Adults
- Reduced Stamina in Elderly
- Poor Range of Motion in Older Adults
- Decreased Hand Grip and Strength Issue
- Cognitive Impairment as We Age
- Reduced Vision
- Should I Get an Equipment for Seniors Living Alone?
- Where to Get the Home Medical Equipment That Seniors Need?
These COVID times is quite challenging for seniors. From running daily activities (bathing assistance, Shopping & meal preparation, Dressing or grooming) to living alone, it leaves people in isolated environments. And families who have to go to work daily or live far away from their older parents are always worried about them.
Maybe your seniors just get a colostomy surgery or suffering from other health conditions, which might make their daily living hard. The only solutions are to buy a safety device for the elderly and hire a professional caregiver agency like Justin Villa Care LLC. So, you can keep an eye on your seniors 24/7 when someone isn’t around.
With advancing technologies in the healthcare world, seniors and their family members have access to hundreds, if not thousands of equipment options for home use to help seniors function more independently and safely. There are two types of medical equipment frequently talked about for anyone across the age span:
Equipment or technology specifically designed to adapt or compensate for a loss of function. Examples include shower chairs, tub benches, reacher grabbers, button hooks, built-up feeding utensils, and toilet risers to name a few. Adaptive equipment, according to Medicare guidelines, is not considered medically necessary equipment which is why it’s not usually covered by insurance.
How Durable Medical Equipment Can Ease Daily Living of Seniors Living Alone?
Durable medical equipment (DME) is considered medically necessary technology that needs to meet specific qualifiers for coverage and which must have a certain lifespan before coverage can be provided for replacement or repair. Examples include walkers, wheelchairs, respiratory equipment, hospital beds, etc.
Questions for seniors and family members regarding home equipment may include the following:
There are so many equipment options, so where do I start? How will I know what equipment my loved one will benefit from? Should I get equipment for the whole house? Where do I go to purchase or rent equipment? What equipment will help keep my loved one from falling? What equipment will help my loved one who’s cognitively impaired?
We’ve compiled a list of areas for seniors and family members to assess to help them formulate their goals for function, how to make the home a safer place, and how to sift out unnecessary equipment options.
Fall Risk of Older Adults
Seniors who have heightened fall risk have all sorts of contributing health detriments. Poor balance, endurance, posture, vision, sensation, and strength are just a handful. Equipment used to prevent falls depends on the senior’s goals and how long they expect to stand versus sit throughout the day. Common fall prevention equipment pieces include:
- Walkers, rollators, canes
- Wheelchairs, powerchairs
- Toilet risers, height adjustable seats, shower chairs
- Grab bars (removable or permanently installed)
- Stairlifts, Hoyer lifts
- Non-slip, textured floor mats and bathmats
- Adaptive lighting or night lights
- Fall alarms or alerts
Reduced Stamina in Elderly
Poor stamina can occur for many reasons (Cardiac, respiratory, neurological, etc.) can lead to loss of balance or falls. Equipment that can be used to compensate for a senior’s loss of energy (acute or chronic) may include:
- Anything with a height-adjustable seat (shower chair, commode, tub bench, toilet riser). Higher seating means less muscle recruitment from the legs to stand up and sit down.
- Walkers, canes, and rollators. Any tool that adds external support for walking means reduced stamina and less risk for falls.
- Wheelchairs, powerchairs.
Poor Range of Motion in Older Adults
Seniors may have trouble with overhead reaching or reaching behind them as they lose range in their shoulders. Others may lose range in their hips and back and have trouble bending. Equipment that compensates for this loss includes:
- Reacher grabbers, long-handled bath sponges or brushes.
- Faucet extenders, extendable hygiene handles on brushes and toothbrushes.
- Shoehorns, dressing sticks, sock aids.
Decreased Hand Grip and Strength Issue
Paralysis and loss of sensation in the hands, arthritis, and injury can make it difficult to grasp objects. Equipment options that may help compensate for that loss include:
- Universal cuffs
- Widened, build-up feeding utensils
- Rocker knives, open palm cutting and stirring utensils
- Textured handles for feeding, kitchen use, and hygiene tools
- Lid and jar openers
Cognitive Impairment as We Age
Some family members may have concerns about seniors getting around their homes safely while living with cognitive impairments (i.e. Alzheimer’s disease). Seniors should not be isolated to one part of the house, and there’s no way for family members to completely prevent wandering or dangerous behavior. Here are a few equipment ideas that may help:
- Fall alarms and alerts
- Door Knob protectors
- Outlet covers
- GPS tracking devices
- Regulated medication dispensers
- Door murals (to prevent outdoor wandering in the middle of the night)
With age often comes visual changes such as macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma. Family members can help seniors safely navigate their home by implementing equipment used to compensate for visual deficits:
- Enlarged labels for food, medicine, and schedules
- Night lights
- Handheld magnifiers
- Raised dots or textured devices
- Computer adaptations such as a screen reader, enlarged and textured keyboard
- Digital video and photo magnifiers
- High contrast-colored objects (red tape, orange tape)
Should I Get an Equipment for Seniors Living Alone?
Yes, Start with what the senior’s personalized goals are and what they are willing to use in their home. Ask them about what barriers they are experiencing getting around their home and what would make it easier or safer.
It also helps to get a professional opinion and have an occupational therapist perform a full home safety assessment and help families determine what equipment would be useful and what equipment would be unnecessary.
Assess the house room by room. Ascertain which rooms your senior loved one uses the most frequently without assistance (i.e. bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, etc.). Do your own research about what adaptive equipment can be used in each room (shower chair for the bathroom, rocker knife for the kitchen) and if each piece of equipment can help compensate for a specific loss of function (i.e. poor stamina, poor hand grip).
Sometimes, family members won’t know if a senior will use or benefit from a specific piece of equipment until after a trial period. Occupational therapists and other rehabilitative specialists can help family members select equipment that would best help seniors at home. If you are concerned about making permanent purchases for equipment that may not be used, consider renting first.
Where to Get the Home Medical Equipment That Seniors Need?
Consult with a local medical equipment provider if you need help on where to begin. Remember, durable medical equipment is usually covered by insurance with a physician’s order and other insurance qualifiers while adaptive equipment is not covered.
Both DME and adaptive equipment can be bought or rented from equipment provider companies as well as many online stores. If your senior loved one needs durable medical equipment such as a wheelchair, walker, respiratory equipment, wheelchair ramp, or a scooter, talk to your physician first to obtain a prescriptive order and assessment.
There are hundreds of equipment options available for seniors who would like to continue living safely and independently for as long as possible. Family members and senior loved ones can hop online and do their own research and consult with professionals to help determine what equipment will be right for them.