For the elderly, simple everyday tasks can be challenging.
There are many different types of mobility and vision and safety aids that are available for seniors who are in need of additional support while carrying out their everyday tasks.
These devices help seniors enjoy greater freedom and independence that would have otherwise been impossible due to old age or disability.
If you or an elderly loved one is in need of aids for activities of daily living or AADLs, then you have come to the right place.
This is going to be your quintessential list of senior aids that you can take advantage of to improve your quality of life.
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- 1 Mobility Aid for Seniors
- 2 Hearing Aids for Seniors
- 3 Sleeping Aid for Seniors
- 4 Vision Aid for Seniors
- 5 Safety Aid for Seniors
- 6 Dressing Aid for Seniors
- 7 Gripping Aid for Seniors
- 8 Buying Guide for Senior Aids
- 9 Conclusion
Mobility Aid for Seniors
Mobility aids or walking assistance devices for elderly people can significantly improve their daily lives.
These mobility aids come in various types to cater to a wide range of needs. It is important to consult with the doctor or physician of your elderly loved one before you choose a particular type of mobility aid.
The following is a quick breakdown of the different types of mobility aids for seniors that are available in the market.
1. Walking Canes
Walking canes can be an important tool for seniors who have limited mobility.
A walking cane can improve one’s balance and reduce the risks of falling. Walking canes come in several materials and types.
Finding the best one is going to depend on individual needs and preferences. The following is a quick breakdown of the different types of walking canes that you can choose from for an elderly loved one.
White Canes —This type of cane is specifically designed for the visually impaired and can be used by people of all ages.
However, if you have an elderly loved one with impaired vision, then it’s advised to use white canes as compared to the normal walking cane.
Quad Canes—Quad canes have four feet at the end, which helps with one’s balance and gait. However, these canes tend to be heavier as compared to normal canes.
If your elderly loved one is looking for a cane that provides them with more stability, then the quad cane is going to be the best choice.
Forearm Canes — The forearm cane offers additional support for the forearm area.
This is achieved by its unique design, which helps distribute the weight from the hands and wrist to the upper arm.
Adjustable Canes — Adjustable canes can be adjusted according to the needs of the user.
While the adjustable cane is useful for seniors in some circumstances, they are considered to be less stable as compared to standard walking canes.
- Solid build quality
- Functional design
- Stable design features to minimize falls
- Some are not ideal for obese or tall individuals
- Wood or cane-type products might not last as long
2. Continuous Passive Motion (CPM) Machines
A Continuous Passive Motion Machine is a device that is used to slowly, but gently move the joint of an injured leg while in a lying down position.
A CPM machine might be needed right after surgery for rotor cuff repair or total knee replacement.
The CPM machine continuously moves the knee slowly by following a range of motion for a period of time to increase blood flow to the leg and help the leg heal quicker.
- Helps with blood circulation
- A convenient way to exercise the knees after surgery
- Can quicken the recovery process
Similar to canes, crutches also help take the weight off the legs and transfer some of it to the upper body, making it easier for seniors to move around.
Crutches are normally used in a pair, and while they can be a useful tool for mobility can also be quite cumbersome for some individuals.
There are different types of crutches that you should be aware of, such as the following:
Axillary Crutch —An axillary or underarm crutch is placed against the ribcage right under the armpits, and the user holds the handle grip to move around.
The axillary crutch is normally used by those individuals who have a short-term injury, but can also be used for increasing mobility in seniors.
Lofstrand Crutch — The Lofstrand or forearm crutch is used by placing an arm into a specially designed cuff made of metal or plastic and holding a handgrip while walking.
The Lofstrand crutch is more commonly used by those who have a long-term disability.
Platform Crutch —While using a platform crutch, a person’s hand is going to be holding a grip while their forearm rests on a specially designed horizontal platform.
While this type of crutch can help with mobility, it is not recommended for those who have a weak hand grip.
- Easy to learn and use
- Can be used to walk up and down stairs
- Can be helpful for recovering from various injuries
- Might result in under-arm injuries
- Not as easy to balance
- Requires upper body strength
4. Manual Wheelchairs
The manual wheelchair allows you to move around while in a sitting position.
While an electric-powered wheelchair does all the heavy lifting for you, with the manual wheelchair, you will need to push yourself around by rotating the wheels manually.
While there’s going to be some work involved when using a manual wheelchair, it can be a great choice as a mobility aid if one needs to travel a long distance while having one or more disabilities.
- Sturdy and well-built design
- Long-lasting construction
- Requires less maintenance
- Requires upper body strength
5. Power Mobility Devices
As compared to the manual wheelchair, the mobility scooter will do the moving for you. All you have to do is sit on it, and the battery-powered scooter will take you wherever you need to go.
However, these devices are bulky and have to be charged after regular intervals, or they stop working. Since it is an electric device, frequent maintenance is also going to be needed.
- Makes it easy to move around at home or while outside
- Easy controls
- Comfortable seats
- Large battery means it can be used for hours at a time
- Batteries need to be replaced or charged regularly
- Requires more maintenance as compared to the manual wheelchair
6. Patient Lifts
A patient lift can be installed just about anywhere in your home. The device has been designed to help seniors move between the different floor levels without having to walk.
The patient lift works by the elderly person sitting on the seat and using the controls to move up or down a staircase.
- Available in a variety of options
- Makes it easier for the physically impaired to go up and down stairs
- Works on batteries that need to be changed regularly
While the standard model of a walker is recommended, there are different types of walkers that go beyond the basic model:
Rollators —Similar to a quad cane, a rollator also has a handlebar, but the four legs at the bottom have been replaced by four wheels.
The rollator has the advantage of a seat that an elderly person can sit on when they are tired. Rollators are designed with handbrakes as an additional safety measure.
Knee Walkers —The knee walker is a lot similar to the rollator.
This tool has a padded cushion where the elderly person can rest their knee while propelling themselves forward with their other leg.
Walker-Cane Hybrids —The walker-cane hybrid is a cross between a cane and a walker. With two legs rather than having a full frame, it can be used with either hand to get more support while walking.
The walker-cane hybrid is considered to offer more support than the standard cane.
8. Artificial Limbs
Artificial limbs or prosthesis is an artificially created substitute for a limb that has been lost due to an accident or a congenital defect.
Older adults can thrive on prosthesis since it allows them to have more freedom while moving about. The artificial appendage also looks similar to an original limb, which helps increase an elderly person’s self-confidence.
- Self-confidence booster
- Helps in mobility and being independent
- Practical design and features
- Some might find it prosthesis expensive
9. Traction Equipment
Adaptive shoes for seniors can significantly increase a senior person’s mobility.
These therapeutic shoes and inserts have been specifically designed for those elderly people who need more foot support due to diabetes or some other illness.
The therapeutic shoes or soles are customized according to the individual’s own feet for better comfort and ease while moving around.
- Made from durable fabric and material
- Features extra padding for more protection
- Easy to put on and take off
- The non-slip design ensures a better grip and minimizes the chances of falling
- Once the orthotic-laden shoes are removed, the pain can return
- You need a good foot doctor who will prescribe the right orthotics
10. Arm, Leg, Back, and Neck Braces (Orthotics)
Arm, leg, back, and neck braces are meant to shift weight away from the damaged area of the joint, which helps reduce pain and discomfort.
For instance, a back brace can be essential for those suffering from Sciatica symptoms due to low back sensitivity. Also, there are different types of braces that are available in the market today such as:
- Prophylactic braces protect a body part after an injury.
- Functional braces for supporting an injured joint.
- Rehabilitative braces to limit the amount of movement of an area of the body to allow healing
- Unloader braces, which is one of the more commonly used braces for seniors with arthritis.
As long as you go to a supplier that’s enrolled in Medicare, using various types of orthotics is a great choice for seniors if advised by a physician.
- Custom-made braces offer better comfort
- Improves injured joints and quickens the healing processc
- Available in a multitude of options
- Can be expensive
- Designing a custom brace takes time
Hearing Aids for Seniors
A hearing aid is a small device that’s designed with a microphone that picks up sounds and converts them into electrical signals.
These signals are then sent to an amplifier, and then a receiver where the signals are converted to sound waves before being sent to the ear.
There are different types of hearing aids that can be helpful for seniors who have lost their hearing or have weak hearing due to age.
The following are some of the different types of hearing aids that are available in the market for seniors.
1. Completely-In-Canal (CIC)
The Completely in Canal hearing aid is custom made to fit into an individual’s ear canal. Unlike the first option, only the tip of the handle is visible when using the CIC hearing aid.
This also happens to be one of the more expensive hearing aids that are available in the market today.
2. Invisible-In-The-Canal (IIC)
This style of hearing aid is custom-fitted and is inserted much farther into the ear canal when compared to other styles.
As such, when worn in the ear, it’s almost completely invisible. The IIC hearing aid is the ideal choice for mild to moderate hearing loss.
3. In-The-Canal (ITC)
This is also a custom-made device that fits into the canal opening of the ear and is barely noticeable.
One of the benefits of ITC hearing aids is that they are large enough to have directional microphones installed in them, which makes them slightly more accurate.
The in the ear hearing aid is ideal for those seniors who are suffering from severe hearing loss.
4. In-The-Ear (ITE)
These hearing aids have been designed to fit within the outer portion of the ear, which means that they are visible when worn. The only downside of the ITE is its bulky design.
5. Receiver-In-Canal (RIC)
This is another type of hearing aid that is nearly invisible when worn.
The receiver in canal hearing aid has a receiver is inside the ear canal, and the acoustical tube found in other types of hearing aids is replaced by an extremely thin electrical wire to reduce distortion.
6. Behind-The-Ear (BTE)
With a behind-the-ear hearing aid, a small plastic tube is used to transfer sound to the custom-made ear mold. One of the advantages of using a BTE hearing aid is that they normally last longer and are more durable.
Hearing Aid Pros and Cons:
- Durable and long-lasting
- Easy to insert and use
- Some can accommodate a directional mic for better sound reception
- Barely noticeable
- Some hearing aids need to be removed daily
- Since some are custom-made, they can be very expensive
Sleeping Aid for Seniors
As the name implies, sleeping aids for seniors help the elderly get a good night’s sleep, which is an integral part of good health.
To get better sleep, it is important for the sleeping aid to provide comfort and support to seniors as they sleep.
Since there are several types of sleeping aids for seniors available in the market today, here’s a quick breakdown of the different products that you can use.
1. Pressure Reducing Beds, Mattresses, and Mattress Overlays
Pressure reducing beds, mattresses, and mattress overlays are mainly used to prevent bedsores.
The pressure reducing mattresses and beds have been designed specifically for seniors to help reduce pain and discomfort and encourage better sleep throughout the night.
Since there are many types of pressure reducing beds, mattresses, and mattress overlays available in the market today, it’s advised to do your research to find the right mattress for your elderly loved one.
- Features premium quality innovations
- Super comfortable
- Foam encourages better breathability
- A mattress can redistribute pressure
- Some might need a foam topper
2. Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Devices
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices is a treatment method that is used for seniors who are suffering from sleep apnea.
The CPAP device uses mild air pressure to keep an individual’s airways open and is also beneficial for those people who have trouble breathing during sleep.
By applying a continuous flow of positive airway pressure for the duration of a person’s breathing cycle, the CPAP device is able to ensure that an elderly person is able to breathe freely while they sleep.
- The ideal treatment for severe obstructive sleep apnea
- High safety
- Available in a wide variety of device options
- Could result in a sore nose
- Some elderly folks experience discomfort
Vision Aid for Seniors
Just because a senior member of your family has weak eyesight does not mean they need to endure that disability.
There are vision aids for seniors that can improve their sight so that they can move around freely at home and while outdoors.
The following are some of the different types of senior aids that are available for the visually impaired.
1. Cataract Glasses
Cataract glasses is one of the best solutions for eye conditions such as Aphakia or in the absence of the lens of the eye.
If the cataract is causing nearsightedness, then prescription eyeglasses can do wonders in improving their blurred vision.
2. Intraocular lenses
An Intraocular Lens (IOL) is a medical device that is surgically implanted into the eye to replace the natural lens that is removed during cataract surgery.
IOLs are extremely efficient when used for vision correction surgery known as refractive lens exchange.
Vision Aid Pros and Cons
- Used after vision correction surgery
- Allows one to see with only mild spectacle correction
- Better vision
- Some folks might find it to be expensive
- Requires well-planned and careful surgery
Safety Aid for Seniors
As a person ages, their ability to move about also deteriorates along with their sense of smell, eyesight, and hearing.
If you have an elderly loved one in the house, then there are a few safety aids that you can use to minimize any chances of accidents.
Some of the senior aids that you can use to accident-proof your home are ramps, handrails, and commode chairs.
Access ramps are necessary if your elderly loved one is already using a wheelchair or mobility scooter.
These ramps are also a great choice if your elderly loved one is using a walking cane, walker, or crutch to navigate the staircase in your home.
- Available in wood and aluminum construction
- Makes it easy for seniors to move around the house
- Sturdy and durable design makes these ramps durable
- Available in multiple sizes
- Aluminum ramps tend to lose their shape over time
- Not waterproof
- Wood ramps have a limited lifespan
2. Hand Rails
Handrails that are fitted in the bathroom, corridors, and walkways are the ideal choice for seniors who have trouble walking on their own.
The handrails offer more support and safety to seniors while moving around the house, especially for those with stability issues.
- Can be used anywhere in a house
- Helps avoid accidents
- Available in multiple sizes
- Need to be fitted securely
- Steel handrails will require more maintenance
- Vinyl handrails tend to crack and discolor easily
3. Commode Chairs
A shower commode chair is useful for seniors who need support while bathing.
Drop-arm potty chairs are also available that come with padded commode seats and have additional cushioning on the seats and arms for better comfort.
The lightweight and ergonomic design of commode chairs means that they can be placed in the shower or bathroom to provide additional support for seniors who are unable to use a regular commode.
- Sturdy and well-built
- Preserves the dignity of the user
- Improves stability while showering or going to the bathroom
- Designed to improve hygiene while using the bathroom
- Be wary of cheap, inferior products.
Dressing Aid for Seniors
With age, even simple tasks such as being able to dress up can become a challenge for seniors.
Luckily, there are a few dressing aids that are available that seniors can take advantage of while dressing.
Some of the most popular dressing aids for the elderly include, dressing sticks, leg lifters, spring lace, and button hooks, and so on. All these devices have been designed specifically to make dressing easy for seniors.
1. Leg Lifters
Dressing yourself can be difficult if you have an immovable leg due to age or disability.
Leg lifters are a dressing aid that allows the user to use their upper-body strength to lift their leg while dressing.
2. Spring Lace
The spring coiled or elasticized shoelace is used to convert traditional lace-up shoes into more convenient slip-on shoes.
The spring lace works by wrapping the ends of the two laces together, so they are not required to be tied in the traditional bow.
3. Button Hooks
When it comes to elderly folks, sometimes even a seemingly easy task, such as buttoning a shirt can be difficult to carry out.
Button hooks are specially designed dressing aids that make it easier to do and undo your buttons while dressing.
It features a handle on one end and a hook on the other hence its name and saves seniors with limited mobility from having to grip or twist the button itself.
4. Dressing Stick
A dressing stick is another versatile dressing aid that makes it easier to put on or take off clothing, especially when it comes to removing socks.
The dressing stick has been designed for those who have impaired movement and saves them from having to bend down or reach out while dressing.
Dressing Aid Pros and Cons
- Durable and long-lasting products
- Makes dressing easy for seniors or those with a disability
- A variety of types and sizes
- Low-quality Chinese options are also available
Gripping Aid for Seniors
Utensil handles, tap turners, key turners, pencil grips, grip mats, jar holders, and so on are all considered as gripping aids that are essential for those who are either too weak or have trouble with gripping objects due to a disability.
These items can make life easier for seniors in need of additional support while holding items at home or outdoors.
Since there are many different sizes of gripping aids that are available for seniors, it’s important to find the ones that fit your needs.
1. Utensil Handles
Foam utensil handles and multi-purpose holders have been specifically designed for the elderly who might find it difficult to hold on to utensils in the kitchen due to age or illnesses such as arthritis.
These utensil handles come in a range of sizes, and its comfortable handle and secure grip keep seniors from dropping things in the kitchen.
2. Tap Turners
Weakness that comes with age can also make it difficult for seniors to turn keys or doorknobs.
There is also a range of key turners and doorknob turners available in the market that makes it easy for seniors to close and open doors at home.
3. Pencil Grips
Gripping smaller objects can get especially difficult when one age.
Whether it’s writing with a pen or a pencil, pencil grips allow you to get a precise grip and keep the hand steady as you write.
This can be extremely useful for those who love writing letters and cards or for filling crossword puzzles. Using a pencil grip can make writing a comfortable experience by offering more control to the user.
4. Jar Holder
Those seniors who are suffering from arthritis will experience reduced hand strength and pain if they put too much strain on their hands, such as, while opening a jar.
This is where the jar holder can come in handy. As the name implies, the jar holder has been designed to hold the base of the jar or bottle securely while you twist off the lid, making it ideal for those with limited grip.
Gripping Aid Pros and Cons
- Makes holding on to or gripping objects easy
- Products are mostly durable and long-lasting
- Safety features keep seniors safe from injury
- Finding the right size can be a problem
Buying Guide for Senior Aids
Buying senior aids can be a tricky process if you do not know much about the DME or other equipment you need.
Since there are plenty of options when it comes to senior aids, it is important to make the right choice when determining which device is going to make your elderly loved one’s life easier and not add to their problems.
The following are some important tips to keep in mind when purchasing senior aids for an elderly loved one.
Of course, the first thing that you will have to keep in mind is the quality of the device you are buying.
Since there are so many options available in the market today, making the right choice can be a tough nut to crack.
This is why it is always good to ask around and do some research on the top brands that are manufacturing that specific device in your area to ensure you get a high-quality product.
You Get What You Pay For
The price of senior aid devices can also be used to gauge the quality of the product.
While top brands are more likely to charge more for their products since they offer a high level of quality and a reliable warranty for their devices, it is possible to find other new brands that offer the same level of quality for a fraction of the price.
If you are in doubt, then it’s best to pay more and go with a reputable brand to make sure you get more bang for your buck.
Talk to a Professional
Some people have lived an independent life and may find it difficult to admit that they could use a senior aid to get through simple, everyday tasks.
If you are planning to get a senior aid device for an elderly family member then it could be useful to talk to the doctor, physician or in-home caregiver of your elderly loved one to find out what challenges they face and what senior aid device they can benefit from in their daily routine.
Keep Things Simple
It can be easy to get carried away when you first discover the plethora of senior aid devices that are available in the market today. But, it is also important to keep in mind the physical limitations of your elderly loved one.
For instance, you would not want to make their daily tasks even more challenging by giving them a senior aid that is too heavy or complicated for them to use.
This is why it is important to have a discussion with both your senior family member and their physician or caregiver to decide on which senior care devices are going to be the best choice for an elderly loved one in their situation.
In the US, basic medically required mobility aids are covered under the Medicare program.
This aid is more commonly known as Durable Medical Equipment (DME). If you are purchasing from a Medicare-enrolled supplier, then they will let you know if the particular DME is covered under Medicare.
Medicare pays for most durable medical equipment on a rental basis and only purchases inexpensive items or those items that are frequently bought to assist seniors, such as walkers, canes, and in some cases, power wheelchairs.
Before you go ahead and purchase one of the DMEs mentioned above, it’s smart to find out whether or not Medicare will cover the costs of the device.