My children used to tease me when my worsening eyesight caused me to hold papers farther and farther away in order to read them. I needed either glasses or arm extensions! My first pair of glasses was a rite of passage into middle age that was not entirely welcome.
Many of us find that we need a little assistance to perform our daily tasks. We are familiar with walkers, canes, and wheelchairs, which are very helpful mobility aids. Many are not aware of the hundreds of clever and inventive products that are designed to maximize our daily abilities in other areas. Here are some of my favorites to whet your appetite, along with resource information for locating the right ability aids for your needs.
Many of us struggle with ridiculously complex remote controls for our TV and other electronics, especially those who have dementia, limited finger dexterity, or stroke. There are wonderful remotes on the market that have only 5 or 6 over-sized buttons, with different shapes for easier recognition.
Round door knobs pose a challenge to people with painful or weakened hands. One solution is to replace the knobs with lever handles, but this can be very costly. A good alternative is a molded, treaded plastic ring that slips over your existing knob, making them much easier to open and close! This one just happens to be a “glow in the dark” version; they aren’t all green!
I once served a client who could no longer button his shirt. His devoted daughter wanted to preserve his dressing independence, and had new, larger button holes sewn, with matching large buttons. Other items were refitted with Velcro closures. Another option is to try a button hook that enables persons with one hand or with reduced dexterity to easily handle buttons.
A favorite product of mine is a set of weighted utensils. If you have any condition which causes your hands to shake, you know how difficult it can be to steadily convey food to your mouth. These specially weighted utensils make it easier by getting gravity to work for you.
If you have concern about a loved one navigating at night, there are several helpful products. One gentleman I know who enjoys evening performances has used a cane with a lighted shaft to find his car safely. Indoors, motion sensor lights detect any movement and light up an entire room, much better than a nightlight!
Trips away from home can be so invigorating, but getting into and out of the car can be a struggle for many. There is an award winning product that slips into the door frame of the driver or passenger side to provide a very sturdy grip handle.
Others may simply benefit from a “lazy Susan” style swivel chair that makes repositioning easier.
A word of caution: Some of the stores that sell these products also have items that are unlikely to provide real relief. Cascade Companion Care’s recommendation is that you choose carefully and check with your doctor or occupational therapist before purchasing or using a new aid. Your Cascade Companion Care caregiver can help assess the main areas of difficulty in daily living and recommend strategies for bolstering independence and making difficult tasks more approachable.
Here’s to a New Year of more independence!
Sampling of Resources:
www.alzstore.com Aids for persons with Alzheimer’s