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