Practical Aids for Living

Little Things Can Help a Lot

Many people have some physical limitations, whether these involve moving, seeing, hearing, communicating or using everyday tools like knives, forks, spoons, toothbrushes or telephones. Solutions exist for overcoming these limitations. Below are examples of different types of bathroom equipment and other assistive devices.


It is important to assess medical, social, and environmental factors to make a good decision on what equipment you need. Before buying any equipment or signing any contract for rental, consult your doctor, physical or occupational therapist, or nurse. Salespeople may not have the training necessary to assist you in making a decision about what you need. Occupational therapists can consult on low-cost substitutes for expensive equipment.


With appropriate doctor’s orders and documentation, Medicare or private insurance covers some equipment. For individuals covered by Medicare only (or Medicare and private insurance), you should contact your insurance carrier to check if the equipment is covered. Then follow their procedures for pre-authorization.

Eating Aids

  • Spoons that swivel for those who have trouble with wrist movement

  • Foam that can be fit over utensils to increase the gripping surface so they can be lifted more easily

  • Plate guards or dishes with high sides that make it easier to scoop food onto a spoon

  • Rocker knives that can cut food with a rocking motion

  • Food-warming dishes for slow eaters

  • Mugs with two handles, a cover, a spout, and a suction base

Dressing Aids

  • Buttonhooks that make buttoning clothes easy

  • Dressing sticks that make it possible to dress without bending

  • Long-handled shoehorns so a person doesn’t have to bend over when putting on shoes

  • Lock aids that keep stockings open while they are being put on

  • Elastic laces for shoes to allow slip-on

Devices for Summoning Help

  • Touch-tone phones with speed dials

  • Medical security response systems

  • Beepers for the caregiver

  • Wireless transmitters for emergency response

Inspiration

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. Charles Darwin

Tip—Be Prepared

Emergencies can happen. Have on hand a flashlight, a battery-run radio, a battery-run clock, fresh batteries, extra blankets, candles with holders, matches, and a manual can opener.

Resource for You

ABLEDATA

(800) 227-0216; (301) 608-8998;

www.abledata.com

Stores information on thousands of assistive devices for home health care, from eating utensils to wheelchairs. Provides prices, names, and addresses of suppliers.

American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)

(301) 652-2682;

www.aota.org

Provides consumer publications.

The Alzheimer's Store

(800) 752-3238

www.thealzheimersstore.com

This website provides unique products and information for those caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease. Every product has been carefully selected to make living with Alzheimer's disease easier. The website has tips and information about most products to increase their effectiveness.

Taking Care Of Yourself — Outside Activities

Successful caregivers don’t give up their own enjoyable activities. Many organizations have respite care programs to provide a break for caregivers. Other family members are often willing—even pleased—to spend time with the person in your care. It may be possible to have respite care on a regular basis. Keep a list of the people you can ask for help once in a while. If your friends want to know how they can help ease your burden, ask them to:

  • Telephone, and be a good listener as you may voice strong feelings

  • Offer words of appreciation for your caregiving efforts.

  • Share a meal, or just a cup of coffee, with you.

  • Help you find useful information about community resources

  • Show genuine interest

  • Stop by or send cards, letters, pictures, or humorous newspaper clippings

  • Share the workload or help hire a relief caregiver

Live Life Laughing!

So Grandpa, what’s the best thing about being old?

It beats the alternative and I can finally get away with stuff!


Medicare

Medicare does not help pay for assistive devices, but does pay for durable medical equipment in some cases. To be covered, a doctor must prescribe the equipment and it must be medically necessary. It must be useful only to the sick or injured person and must be reusable. Medicare will pay for the rental of certain items for no more than 15 months. After that time you may buy the equipment from the supplier. If the person in your care has met the deductible, Medicare will pay 80% of the approved charges on the rental, purchase, and service of equipment that the doctor has ordered.

Helpful Bathroom Equipment

Many accidents happen in the bathroom. These items make bathing and toileting easier and safer.


Quick Quiz

Many people develop some physical limitations as they age. Special aids are available to help make life easier and more comfortable. Read the issue and answer True or False to the following questions to test your knowledge

1. Many people have some physical limitations, whether these involve moving, seeing, hearing, communicating. T F

2. It is important to assess medical, social, and environmental factors to make a good decision on what equipment the person in your care needs. T F

3. Medicare, or private insurance, will cover some equipment with appropriate doctor's orders and documentation. T F

4. Occupational therapists can consult on low-cost substitutes for expensive equipment. T F

5. If the deductible is met, Medicare will pay 80% of the approved charges on the rental, purchase, and service of equipment that the doctor has ordered. T F

6. There is no need to have supplies ready for an emergency. T F

7. Many organizations have respite care programs to provide breaks for caregivers. T F

8. When purchasing equipment, the advice of a sales people is better than the advice from an occupational therapist in making a decision. T F

9. Medicare will pay for the rental of certain items for no more than 15 months. T F

10. Eating aids can help because they can help people scoop food or lift utensils more easily. T F

Answers: 1. T, 2. T, 3. T, 4. T, 5.T, 6. F, 7.T, 8. F, 9.T, 10. T

© 2007 CareTrust Publications LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any component of this publication is forbidden without a license from the publisher.

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