Home safety equipment for seniors

Home safety equipment makes everyday tasks such as bathing much less of a worry by ensuring that seniors are protected from the danger of falls. Personal security devices ensure that help is on the way should there be an emergency.

Here are some guidelines for common home safety equipment and security devices:

Electric-lift beds

Hospital-style electric-lift beds are a boon for caregivers’ backs and patient comfort. Many suppliers lease or sell reconditioned beds, which can cost up to $3,500 new, including specialized mattress and side rails; used beds may sell for $1,000. Be sure a used bed has a reconditioned motor and sterilized mattress; consider adding a new moisture-wicking mattress cover as well. Remember that once assembled, these beds are very heavy, so choose their location carefully, and test that the bed works properly in all positions before the delivery guys leave!

Personal care devices

Personal care devices such as commodes, shower benches and raised toilet seats are lower-cost items, but their costs can add up. Be sure that leg heights are adjustable and tested before use; check that toilet-seat shapes are compatible. Grab bars may be re-used, but secure installation is absolutely essential. For example, safety standards dictate how to place and anchor the bars, so rather than taking any chances, consult a supplier for detailed installation advice or out-source the installation to them. A fall in the shower or tub can be catastrophic.

Personal security devices

Personal security devices add a speaker to the home phone, so that when the lanyard or bracelet alarm button is pressed, the alarm company responds through the phone, reassuring and assisting while 911 is called. Alarms can cost $30-$45/month.

Payment assistance: insurance policies and subsidies

When researching equipment options, ask the supplier if the item is covered by the Assistive Devices (ADP) Program (1-800-268-6021 /Ontario Ministry of Health & Long Term Care website, www.health.gov.on. Other subsidies might be available through the March of Dimes (www.marchofdimes.ca) or Veterans’ Affairs (www.vac-acc.gc.ca). Check any private health insurance policies regarding coverage or subsidies. For short-term loans of assistive devices, contact The Canadian Red Cross (www.redcross.ca).

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