At first, Piyushi Dhir, who lives with her parents and grandparents in Ontario, Canada, noticed that her grandfather took longer to get off the couch. Over time, he would need a hand. Dhir worried about him falling. She bought him a portable standing aid, a freestanding rail that he could use for stability as he got to his feet.
Not only did the standing aid improve her grandfather’s quality of life, “it helped him win back some of his independence,” Dhir says. He didn’t have to rely on others as much.
As you age, it may become harder to do certain things, such as read fine print, get dressed, or step into a slippery tub. Assistive devices allow you to do these tasks with less pain. They protect your joints and prevent injuries.
“Assistive devices help make daily activities easier and safer,” says Elin Schold Davis, a Minneapolis-based occupational therapist and older driver coordinator at the American Occupational Therapy Association.
“Assistive devices are a wide variety of tools, devices, and technologies that are designed to help people perform a specific function,” says Lynda Shrager, an occupational therapist in Albany, NY, and CEO of At Home for Life. They range from a simple jar opener to high-tech home renovations. They’re often useful for older adults. For example, a grab bar may keep you from falling and breaking a bone, Shrager says.
What Assistive Devices Do You Need?
“It can be hard to admit that you need an assistive device,” says Scott Trudeau, PhD, the productive aging practice manager at the American Occupational Therapy Association. But it’s important that you invest in them early on. “Get them as soon as you notice that it’s a little harder to do something or you’re unsteady on your feet,” he says. “You don’t want to wait until you fall and break something.”
Talk to your doctor, who can make suggestions or refer you to an occupational therapist. They can analyze your home and recommend the best assistive devices for you. You can also consider the following list of tried-and-true assistive devices for each part of your home.