Physical challenges associated with aging, injuries or illness affect many of our senior loved ones who wish to age in place.
That doesn’t have to mean they are physically unable to live where they want nor give up their independence.
It could be, though, they can use some assistance to be safe in their home and when outside the home doing errands, shopping, visiting or just enjoying being outdoors.
Being able to move from a seated to a standing position, transferring on and off the toilet, getting in and out of the house on their front steps, getting in and out of the shower and just walking down the hallway of their homes can be difficult for them to safely accomplish on their own. There are devices that can help.
Mobility Aids to the Rescue
A mobility aid is a device that helps a person who is disabled or recovering from an injury or someone who has an age-associated functional decline move from place to place.
Someone with a risk of falling in their home or when they are out in the community can benefit from a variety of products that will assist them to transfer more safely and allow them to age in place longer. Aids can keep your senior independent with their activities of daily living allowing aging in place.
- Crutches – to help when you need to keep weight off a foot, ankle or leg
- Rollators – a rolling, wheeled walker that helps maintain balance without needing to be lifted with each step as a regular walker would; a senior needs to be able to control its forward movement since it has wheels consequently needs to be more functional than someone using a standard walker
- Canes – assists with balance and to help maintain stability when walking
- Walkers – provides additional help with balance when cane is not enough, the arms help support body weight, takes weight off lower body with steps
- Wheelchairs – a chair with wheels that allows the senior to propel themselves and move about when the lack of strength in the lower body prevents mobility
- Motorized scooters – a wheeled chair that can be used by a senior who is unable to propel themselves in a standard wheelchair, is propelled by a motor
- Rise and Recline chairs – upholstered recliner chairs that lift your senior to a standing position and ease back down when going back, powered by a motor.
There are a variety of other devices that can help your senior such as cushions, shower benches and chairs, transfer benches, grab bars, reachers, and raised toilet seats/frames in addition to those listed above. Even a small item can make a big difference in safety and independence!
What You Should Know
Many devices are specific for the user and will require a fitting to be sure it will provide the most effective and SAFE use for you. Walking with a walker or a cane that is not adjusted for your height can be more harmful than helpful.
There are specially credentialed healthcare providers who can guide you in your pursuit for the more advantageous device. They are certified and are known as Assistance Technology Professionals (ATP) or Providers.
Also known as durable medical equipment (DME), many of these products used for rehabilitation are covered by Medicare and Medicaid. Check with your physician if you have a specific need that is covered by insurance or other third party payer source.
There may be other benefits, funding sources or tax breaks available to your senior loved ones, based on where they live.
Many devices will be more beneficial if instructions and demonstration on use, precautions and care of the equipment are provided before they are used by your senior.
You will want to check for any warranty, repair or service dealer and resale ability once the device is no longer required.
No matter what limitations that your senior may have, it is recommended to discuss your needs with your doctor or physical/occupational therapist so that you will get the most appropriate product that will best meet the needs of your senior without creating a more dangerous situation.