Unmasking Different Types of Home Medical Equipment

Published by Steve Hedberg on September 9, 2010 Under home medical

There are quite a few factors that can increase the risk that arthritis will develop, including things like high impact sports like soccer or previous injuries in a joint, but generally age is the largest risk factor. Those who are over sixty-five have a much higher chance of developing certain types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

These rheumatory disorders can carry a number of risks and have a huge impact on the daily life of a senior, making things like getting out of the bath tub or standing up, much more difficult. As a result, there are a number of tools designed to help improve the activities of daily living(ADL,) of seniors and others with limited mobility.

Walkers and Rollators

Perhaps the most well known home medical tool is the walker. Walkers provide a service similar to that of a cane, but where a cane only provides one point of contact with the ground, a walker typically has four points that contact the ground and provides sturdy hand holds for both sides of the body. This makes the walker far more stable than a cane and much more useful for the elderly.

Over the last five years, rollators have largely displaced the traditional walker. Rollators, or rolling walkers, allow the walker to be pushed forward on wheels, as opposed to having to pick it up and reposition it like an older model walker. They also have locking hand brakes, as well as a seat that the senior can use, in times when they would otherwise have to stand.

Bath Lifts and Walk-In Bathtubs

Rolling walkers are very important when away from the home, but it is also important to address other areas of the home that can cause difficulty or even be dangerous. One of the most dangerous areas for a senior is getting into and out of the bath tub, so many seniors use bath lifts or walkin bathtubs in their home.

Bath lifts come in several different styles, but most are attached to the floor of the bath tub and provide a motorized chair that lifts upwards to make getting into and out of the bathtub much easier and safer. There are also some inflatable ones, although these models are typically more expensive, but great for traveling. Most of the plastic chair models have a reclining backrest, so when the chair is lowered into the bathtub, the backrest reclines allowing full use of the bathtub. They also attach without tools, often using several strong suction cups, so bath lifts can be installed quickly and easily, without modifying the bath tub.

Walkin Bathtubs are also popular and have a water tight door built into the side of the bathtub, and often a bench inside the tub itself. This allows the user to safely and easily enter the bath tub with little bending or stepping. Of course, walk-in baths can be rather expensive and require that the old bathtub be completely removed, resulting in a good deal of home modification.

To put the cost of a bath lift vs a walk-in shower in perspective, you can get a very nice bath lift for under a $1000, but could easily spend 10 times that for a walk-in bathtub.

Stair Lifts and Wheelchair Lifts

Another dangerous, and often difficult area to use, of the home is the staircase. This includes not just the stairway that links two floors in the home, but also the staircase on the front porch of the home. Among the elderly, falls on the stairs are the leading cause of serious injury and often result in broken bones, which can be exceptionally difficult to recover from for a senior.

Stair lifts, or stair chairs, are one type of tool used to make the stairs safer and easier to use. Stair lifts attach to the base of the stairway and provide a tracked chair, which is moved along the length of the staircase. This not only makes the stairs very easy to use, but also is a much less expensive option than a residential elevator.

Of course, wheelchair users are not able to use stair lifts and instead need a special type of home medical equipment called a wheelchair lift. Wheelchair lifts are also sometimes called vertical platform lifts and are basically a self-contained elevator, which can be placed next to a stair case. Wheelchair lifts are most often seen on the front porch of a home, although some models can also be used on longer interior staircases.

Lift Chairs

Another common tool for the senior is the lift chair, which are often referred to as lift recliners or lift seats. Lift chairs are designed to offer the comfort and functionality of a recliner, complete with fully reclining backrest and extend-able footrest, while also making it easier to stand. The base of the lift chair contains an electric motor, which controls all parts of the lift chair, as well as rising it into the air. Once the lift chair has completely risen, it is safe and easy to exit the recliner, in what is basically a standing position.

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