Getting older isn’t easy. Many seniors struggle with mobility, dexterity, eyesight or memory, but those issues don’t have to be life-limiting. Modern technology offers a lot of time, stress and labor-saving luxuries that can help senior citizens retain their independence.
Even if you’re quick to shout at your grandkids to put away their phones, and just don’t get the appeal of Snapchat or Kik, there’s a lot of innovations to be grateful for.
Here are a few must-have devices that can keep seniors active and independent for longer.
1 – Personal Medical Alert System
This is one of those gadgets that you should have, but will hope to never use. With WiFi and wireless cellular service it allows you to call for help from 911 or reach the MobileHelp Response Center for less urgent help – while at home OR on the go.
Clip the button to your belt, wear it as a necklace, or carry it with you however you please so that you are never more than a button press away from aid. Includes automatic fall detection too!
2 – Induction Cookers
Prevent cooking fires with an induction cooker and induction-capable cookware. An induction cooktop doesn’t use a flame or traditional ‘heating element’. The pan gets hot, but the induction cooker itself doesn’t heat up as much. It may become warm, but not hot enough to burn anyone.
If you forget to turn the heater off, there’s no harm done. This makes induction cookers useful for anyone who is forgetful, tired or stressed – whether that’s a senior citizen or a busy parent!
Read about other safe electric cookers for seniors in this guide.
3 – Button Hooks
This dressing aid is good for people with numbness, muscle weakness, limited shoulder movement or poor motor control. Whether you’ve ‘never been the same’ since you came off that motorbike, or your hands are just stiff and shaky these days, this simple independent living aid lets you get dressed by yourself.
Sometimes, it’s the little things that matter.
4 – Zipper Pullers
On the subject of getting dressed, who designs clothes anyway? Have you ever noticed how zippers on dresses are always in the most inconvenient places? Even gymnasts and dancers struggle to reach those awkward rear zips!
This simple zipper pull aid makes it easier to reach the zips behind your back, on your boots, and in other annoying spots, extending your effective reach and making it much easier to do up, and undo, your favorite garments.
5 – Eye Drop Aid
If you are like me, using eye drops is quite an undertaking. My eyes want to close or my eyelashes start fluttering. I try to use one hand to hold open my eye and the other to squeeze the eye dropper. Half the time, I miss! But, I found a solution to this problem.
The folks at Remedic were kind enough to send me a sample of their Eye Drop Guide Aid and it really does work. To use it, just install the dropper into the device and snap the lid. Then you can use the bottom edge to help hold your eye open. I was able to get drops in on the first try!
6 – Scald Preventer
This simple thermostatic device will reduce water flow from a faucet to just .25 gpm if the temperature of the water exceeds 117 deg F. It’s super-easy to install and incredibly useful for preventing accidental scalds and burns – not just for seniors, but visiting children too.
If you sometimes find yourself fighting with your boiler or plumbing, give this device a look. It could save some nasty accidents, and it’s an affordable way of protecting yourself and your family.
RELATED: Games for Elderly to Play Alone
7 – The Squatty Potty
Did you know that in Asian cultures, people squat OVER toilets rather than sit on tall toilets? The way that people in the western world ‘sit’ on a toilet is not natural, and can actually make it harder for people to fully evacuate their colons. As we get older, it’s important to pay close attention to digestive health.
The Squatty Potty is a simple tool that helps you adopt better posture while using the toilet, and therefore helps you to fully clear your colon. It’s one of those things that sounds super-silly until you try it, but once you’ve experienced using this simple stool you’ll never want to go back to the traditional way.
8 – Shower Grab Bars
While you’re kitting out your bathroom, stop to think a moment about slips and falls. These simple shower handles are capable of supporting up to 300lbs, and attach securely to fiberglass, marble or other non-porous surfaces.
The bar can be repositioned easily, but when it’s in place it holds securely and acts as a support to help users get up, or to hold on to while moving in and out of the shower, reducing the risk of injury from slips and falls.
9 – Motion Activated Toilet Light
Getting up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night is a fact of life for some people, and it can be annoying to try to do so without waking your spouse, or even just without having to turn on blinding bright lights that will shock you ‘awake’ and make it hard to go back to sleep.
This motion sensor LED light triggers when you move the toilet seat, and can illuminate the toilet bowl in one of 16 colours – or rotate them for a fun effect. You can choose the brightness level, and it lets you get the job done without having to turn on every light in the house!
RELATED: Best Night Lights for Seniors
10 – Amplified Landline Telephone
With chunky, large buttons, photo frame memory buttons and call amplification, this landline phone for seniors is designed to be easy to use even if you have less than perfect eyesight or hearing.
It works with hearing aids and cochlear implants, and has both handset and speakerphone functionality. Choose from an audible ringer, or a visual flasher, or both, to ensure that you never accidentally miss an incoming call.
11 – Key Turners
Security is a serious issue for people who live alone, and it’s also something people are loathe to ask for help with. If your keys are too small or awkward for you to grip properly, then locking up when you leave the house could be a tough task.
These easy key turners snap over standard-sized keys and make them easier to turn, so if you’re struggling to grip a small key they could give you the leverage you need to do it properly. Nobody should be stuck at home because they’re worried about being able to lock up properly.
12 – Step Risers
Dodgy knees, weak ankles, stiff hips. There are lots of nagging aches and pains that can surface as you get older. Whether you’re struggling with mobility all the time, or just find that in the colder months you really do ‘feel it in your bones’, that’s no reason to give up on the things you love.
This portable step for seniors is lightweight and easy to move around and can turn that annoying massive step up to the porch into something more manageable. It can even be used as a small step to help you reach stuff on that awkward shelf in the kitchen, too.
13 – Automatic Jar Opener
We’ve all encountered jars that seem to require superhuman strength to open them. That’s not a ‘part of getting old’, it’s a part of life! Whether you have poor grip strength or you just happen to live with someone who sees tightening jars as an opportunity to get some strength training in, this automatic jar opener could help you to avoid going hungry.
Simply put the opener on the jar, push the button, and let it do the hard work for you. This is a much neater, and safer, solution than trying to pry the lid open with cutlery!
14 – Seat Assist
We all have that favorite seat or sofa that we love to lounge in, but getting up can be a struggle. This seat assist is like a gentle ejector seat for your chair, giving you that little bit extra lift you need to stand up by yourself.
It’s perfect for people who live alone, and those who just don’t want to have to ask for a hand up every time they need to get out of their chair. Stay mobile, stay independent, and enjoy freedom in your home.
15 – Simple Universal Remote
If you have a TV, console, blu-ray player, set-top box and other gadgets then you probably have half a dozen remote controls that all look the same. Those sleek black devices with tiny, cryptic buttons are a pain to use. Who has the time to figure them out?
With this simple universal remote you don’t need to! The remote has all the features you need – turn the TV on, turn it off. Change the channel, change the volume. Stick the real remote in a drawer and forget about it until the rare occasion where you actually do need to connect your TV to your home network so that it can talk to your fridge, or whatever it is those extra buttons do.
16 – Alarm / Day Clock
We may joke about not knowing what day of the week it is, and say things like “I’d forget my head if it wasn’t screwed on”, but those jokes stop being funny when you forget something important such as medication.
This day clock and calendar tells you the day of the week, the time of day, the date, and also what ‘time segment’ it is – such as Morning, Afternoon, Evening, etc. The clock supports three alarms so that you can be reminded to perform certain tasks, and helps you stay on top of your daily schedule.
What other gadgets and products for elderly people living alone should make the list? Tell me about some helpful products that you have used and helped make life a little easier for you or a senior you love.