Assistive devices and accessories to simplify your life

At first, Piyushi Dhir, who lives with her parents and grandparents in Ontario, Canada, noticed that her grandfather took longer to get up from the sofa. In time, he would need a helping hand. Dhir worried about his downfall. She bought him a portable standing aid, a freestanding rail he could use for stability when he stood up.

Not only did the ongoing help improve his grandfather’s quality of life, it “helped him regain some of his independence,” says Dhir. He didn’t need to rely on others so much.

As you get older, it can become more difficult to do certain things, like reading the fine print, getting dressed, or stepping into a slippery bathtub. 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, Minneapolis-based occupational therapist and senior driver coordinator with the American Occupational Therapy Association.

“Assistive devices are a wide variety of tools, devices and technologies designed to help people perform a specific function,” says Lynda Shrager, occupational therapist in Albany, NY, and CEO of At Home for Life. They range from simple jar opener to high tech home renovations. They are often useful for the elderly. For example, a grab bar can keep you from falling and breaking a bone, says Shrager.

What assistive devices do you need?

“It can be difficult to admit that you need an assistive device,” says Scott Trudeau, PhD, director of the practice of productive aging at the American Occupational Therapy Association. But it’s important that you invest in it from the start. “Get them as soon as you notice it’s a little harder to do something or you’re unsteady on your feet,” he says. “You don’t want to wait to 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. You can also check out the following list of proven assistive devices for every part of your home.

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