Michael Edlen: New Equipment, Products Aid Seniors

By Michael Edlen
Special to the Palisades News

Studies show that by 2035, more than one in five people in the U.S. will be 65 and older, and one in three households will be headed by someone in that age group. Projections indicate that the number of owner households headed by someone age 80 or more will double to more than 12 million within 20 years.

Homes will need more age-friendly elements such as single-floor living, zero-step entrances and wide halls and doorways to accommodate walkers and wheelchairs. A Harvard study found that only 3.5 percent of homes today have all three of these features.

Even as the senior population keeps growing, people increasingly prefer in-home care options rather than nursing homes or assisted living. Nearly 14 percent of those 80 and over currently live in the homes of relatives, and family members have begun taking on a caregiver role in more situations.

This growing trend has led to the steady growth of a wide variety of adapted equipment being available to help seniors and their caregivers in the effort to aid seniors function more independently and at a higher level. These products can be vital in maintaining better health, security, a feeling of self-confidence, and a generally better quality of daily living in many respects.

Most people have little knowledge of what adapted equipment is or the broad range of technology and products that are on the market for these purposes. Advancements have made considerable differences in helping caregivers assist their senior in maintaining as much control of life as possible.

The products are useful in bathroom and bathing, bedrooms and sleeping, exercise and fitness, kitchen and eating, personal care and dressing, vision and hearing, security and safety, mobility, leisure and recreation, medical alert systems, general organizing tools, and of course health and medical supplies.

There are numerous websites, specialty stores and catalogues that can be explored to find hundreds of useful and technologically advanced products and equipment, which could include:

  • Pots with handles on both sides;
  • Door knob turners that press down in order to turn;
  • Chair and bed risers;
  • Big-button calculators and computer screen magnifiers;
  • Velcro used in place of shoelaces, buttons, snaps or zippers;
  • Bathroom flood alarms;
  • Flood-proof chair cushions;
  • Aids for putting on socks and shoes;
  • Dressing and grooming aids;
  • Silverware that is easier to hold;
  • Drinking cups that eliminate spills and have double handles;
  • One-stop step stool for transport;
  • Lazy-Susan-type swivel cushion to get in or out of car;
  • Portable commode chair for travel or bedside;
  • Bibs that go all the way to the lap;
  • TTY type phones that type messages and phone calls;
  • Portable ramps for easier access to various places;
  • Large-digit handheld timer;
  • Rolling trays for eating, reading or writing.

In previous articles I have described many of the practical safety and easier functioning changes that can be made to the home itself. Seniors will be able to live longer and healthier in the familiar home environment if a great deal of thoughtful planning and preparation is done well before these changes are actually needed.

Family members can be most helpful by being involved in discussions, staying informed and helping with the lifestyle improvements in advance.

Michael Edlen has counseled more than 2,000 local seniors regarding various ways to age in place. For copies of previous articles or a consultation, call: (310) 230-7373 or email: Michael@MichaelEdlen.com.

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