Types of Senior Safety Tools

Published by Steve Hedberg on May 12, 2010 Under home medical

In individuals who are elderly, especially those over the age of sixty five, arthritis and other diseases can greatly hinder mobility. It is often that even things that are essentially simple, such as standing without assistance, become much more difficult and often painful affairs. When these types of activities of daily living are affected, there are several types of home medical equipment that can be helpful.

For someone with arthritis, it is common for joint pain and stiffness to set in after having not moved in awhile, which is one of the reasons that it is common to experience arthritis pain in the mornings.

Importance of Researching Medical Equipment Purchase

Using and finding the right type of safety tool is very important and is something that should involve a good deal of research. Checking to see if you can find a review, as well seeing if there are any consumer reports or recalls can not only help you save money, but also decreases the risk of using a faulty product. Keep in mind that when you visit a medical supply store or call a company that sells online medical supplies, you will likely not be talking to a medical professional, but rather a sales professional. So, make sure you do some due diligence before contacting a company that sells any of these types of equipment.


Those who are on Medicare, which is a program offered by the government primarily for senior citizens, may be eligible to have some of the costs for durable medical equipment covered. This includes not only things like wheelchairs and mobility scooters, but also diabetic supplies and oxygen equipment. Around 80% of the cost is usually covered by Medicare, but this varies and they usually require a doctors prescription, with some having even stricter requirements.

Common Types of Home Medical Equipment

What is a Lift Chair?

One of the most common types of home medical equipment is the lift chair. Lift chairs, or lift recliners, are used to help make standing easier and are usually similar to a recliner, both in design and functionality. Lift chairs have an electric motor that is used to raise user to their feet, by slowly lifting the base of the chair.

There are also several other similar lifting devices, such as seat lift that can be placed into any seat and provide a little bit of a boost while standing. However, these types of standing aids are not as effective as a lift recliner.
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What is a Rollator

While standing safely is a big issue among seniors, being able to get around, be it in the home or when at places like the grocery store, is also very important. For many who have difficulty walking and/or seeing, a rollator is a good first step. Rollators, or rolling walkers, are simply walkers that are outfitted with wheels that make it easier to push and move.

Traditional walkers can be very difficult to use, as the senior must constantly pick up and move the walker with every few steps. A rollator, on the other hand, is simply pushed in front of the senior and because it is on wheels, there is much less lifting and repositioning of the rolling walker.

Rollators also have handbrakes and are often times designed to double as a seat, so if you are waiting in line for a movie or to get your table at a restaurant, you always have a safe place to sit.
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What is a Stair Lift?

In the home, there are a number of areas that can be very risky for seniors, especially those with poor vision or a mobility related disease, such as arthritis. Few are as likely to cause a serious injury as a fall on the stairs though, which is why the staircase is usually considered the most dangerous area in a home for the elderly.

For some situations, simply avoiding the stairs, moving to an area that doesn’t have stairs, or making minor safety improvements, such as adding another handrail or installing grip tape, can be effective at decreasing the risk of a fall on the stairs.

However, in many cases, these steps are too expensive or are simply ineffective, in which case, a stair lift can provide an inexpensive means of increasing staircase safety, without sacrificing senior independence. Often referred to as stair chairs, these devices are installed onto the staircase and carry a single person up and down the stairs, moving a small platform or chair along the length of the staircase.

The type of stair lift used varies and largely depends on what type of staircase is installed. For instance, curved stair lifts are much more expensive that traditional stair lifts, as they must be built to the curve of the staircase. On the other hand, there are a number of do-it-yourself stair lift kits available, which can be installed onto straight or L shaped staircases by the homeowner. Stair lifts can prove to be very effective at improving safety at home.
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What is a Bath Lift?

Using the bathroom safely and independently can also be very difficult and many patient lifts, like the Hoyer Lift, are designed more for caretakers. Bath lifts can provide a nice alternative to other patient lifts for those who are unable to safely raise and lower themselves into the bath tub.

Most bath lifts are designed with a plastic chair that affixes to the bottom of the bathtub and is raised and lowered electronically, although there are inflatable bath lifts available too. A rechargeable water-proof battery system is used, which prevents the risk of electrical shock.

In addition to being relatively inexpensive, bath lifts can be installed without tools and without modifying the bathtub, which also makes them practical for traveling.

Of course, even with a bath lift or toilet seat lift, it is important to make sure the bathroom has proper drainage, non-skid bath mats, and grab bars to help steady the senior.
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What is a Toilet Seat Lift?

It is also common for seniors to have difficulty using the toilet, so a toilet seat lift is a popular bathroom safety aid. Toilet seat lifts install over a traditional toilet and use an electric motor to raise and lower the toilet seat. The toilet seat raises at an angle, much like a seat lift, rather than directly up and down.

Like the bath lift, a toilet seat lift can usually be installed without having to make any major modifications.
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Other Types of Senior Safety Tools

There are many other tools that can be used to improve safety or make life easier for the elderly. This includes things like mobility scooters, which are electric scooters that help make it easier to get around, as well as smaller aids, such as large handled kitchen utensils for those with arthritis and talking clocks for those with limited vision.

The purpose of these tools is to help improve the quality of life for those who are elderly or have difficulty getting around, but like any of the ones above, it is important to carefully research, checking for reviews and other consumer reports.

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