Products To Make Life Easier For Older Adults (Updated 2023)
We’re big fans of hacks and innovative products to make life easier for older adults. And there’s such a fantastic, wide range available. So we thought we’d round up our favourites.
The gadgets and assistive devices that we’ve selected are easy to install and use, are inexpensive and available to buy online. We’ve also road tested these useful products for everyday life with some of our physiotherapy clients too, so we know that they really do make life easier and the home safer. Meaning peace of mind for you too!
We’ve split these must-have elderly gadgets out by room (kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, living room), so you can easily see what a difference they can make around the home. And if you’re concerned about incontinence, check out our article reviewing the different types of incontinence products available, from washable pants to bedding.
1. Helping Seniors Stay Safe In The Bedroom
Motion Sensor Lights Can Reduce Falls At Night
As a physiotherapist specialising in elderly rehabilitation, fall prevention is a topic very close to my heart. So many of the falls that take place at home could be avoided – think rushing to the bathroom in the dark in the middle of the night for example. This clever indoor motion sensor light fits into a free plug socket and will automatically illuminate when someone passes within five metres. The light stays on for 30 seconds, and it only operates in darkness to save on electricity (more important than ever given the cost of living crisis).
Ideal if sharing a room with someone and your parent doesn’t want to wake them by turning on the main light, or to light up the route to the bathroom. It should help to reduce the risk of falls at night, making the home safer for seniors. We talk about products like this and more in our guide to the most useful Parkinson’s aids.
Improve Bed Mobility With A Bed Lever
Getting in and out of bed gets harder as we age. We lose muscle mass as we age which impacts how strong we are, and movements such as climbing on and off a bed become more difficult. But don’t feel you need to invest in an orthopedic bed that moves to all positions – a bed lever could be the inexpensive mobility aid that your parents need. Positioned about a third of the way down the bed, a bed lever gives you something to hold onto when getting into bed (so is good for people who struggle with balance).
For someone with mobility issues, moving in bed when lying down can also be problematic. Using this bed transfer aid as support, your parent will be able to move themselves up or turn over. We like this free-standing style for extra support, but you can also find ones which slot between the mattress and bed frame. For more info, read our article on the best bed aids.
Fall Detector Alarm
Falls prevention is my favourite thing to talk about. But let’s be realistic, no matter how aware we are, falls can and do still happen in daily life both in and out of the home. That might be slipping on an uneven pavement, tripping over a rug, or being pulled over when walking the dog. Personal alarms for the elderly are a great way to help our aging parents maintain their independence and give us peace of mind.
This Taking Care fall detector alarm (from Which? Magazine favourite and Age UK personal alarm provider) offers a way to call for help in an emergency, 24/7 and is location aware so the alarm monitoring system knows where your parent is.
It also comes with a pendant which they can push anytime day or night, and Taking Care will speak to your parent directly through it. It is water resistant (which is great considering the number of falls that take place in the bathroom) and has a one-month battery life.
It’s possible that your parent is resistant to the idea of wearing a fall alarm – it’s right there on them and makes them conscious of getting older. If this is the case, have a chat with them and let them air what’s on their chest. Give them the time and LISTEN, and then together you can shape a plan to help them stay as safe as possible.
Neck Reading Light
This is one of those devices that makes you go ‘I don’t know how I lived without it!”.
It’s a fact that our eyesight worsens as we age, and this comfortable, hands-freehands-free around the neck reading light means your parent can easily keep up with what their at-home hobbies without straining their eyes or have to give them up. Its ergonomic design means it molds into the neck, lighting up what the user is looking at – whether that’s a book, sudoku, the password, knitting, looking at photos…
Easily transportable, it has three colour temperatures to avoid eye strain and is rechargable via USB (once charged, it lasts up to 80 hours). It’s an everyday product that can transform a senior’s quality of life.
If you’ve ever wanted to find clothing that makes getting dressed easier for your elderly mum or dad then the answer is ADAPTIVE CLOTHING! We’re impressed with the quality and style of clothes from The Able Label. The founder, Katie, started the label to create clothing for her grandmother as her Parkinson’s disease developed – she found it upsetting not being able to dress independently in clothes she was proud to wear.
They use hidden fastenings to make clothing, accessories, nightwear and loungewear for men and women. They also have washable incontinence underwear and front fastening bras.
We especially love this 100% cotton floral blouse which looks smart and on-trend. It has a centre front velcro fastening and is machine washable.
Using A Sock Aid
We’re big fans of sock aids. It literally does what the name suggests – helps you put your socks on.
Why is this important? Well for anyone with mobility issues, bending down to wiggle socks onto our feet becomes quite a difficult task. And this little easy-to-use gadget can make all the difference to someone being able to dress themselves and get on with their day.
Want to know how to use a sock aid? It’s easy, just make sure your parent is sitting down on a chair with arms (for extra support). Then:
- Slide the sock onto the curved end of the sock aid (it’s like a fake foot at this stage). You might want to get a firm hold on the aid by squeezing it between your legs.
- Pull the sock all the way up.
- Hold the rope and drop the sock aid onto the floor.
- With it on the floor, place your foot into the sock.
- Work your foot into the sock by pulling on the handles.
- Check it fits well, then ta-da! Your sock is on and you can face the day!
We’ve got a secret for you – there’s a new adaptive footwear company on the block. Friendly Shoes make wide fitting shoes that fit orthotics and are the easiest shoes we’ve ever seen to do up and take on and off.
Our feet change as we get older – bunions, corns, the need for custom insoles etc and this all means waving goodbye to the shoes we used to wear and giving in to ‘granny shoes’. Or does it? Friendly Shoes’ range of smart trainers actually look really good too.
My personal favourite is the Voyage. This has a side zip which literally opens the whole shoe up down the side – you can see where to place your toes inside! And then zip it back up again. It has laces which allow you to set the tension on the first wear and then just rely on the zip.
There’s also an Excursion with a back zip and the Force (see below) which is the roomiest style so best for swollen feet, has no laces and works just as well as an outdoor shoe or a smart indoor slipper.
Created by an occupational therapist, their specialist shoes for men and women have a deep toe box (E width) and anti-slip soles. Eligible people can also claim VAT exemption.
2. Products That Promote Independence In The Kitchen
Don’t Worry About Spilling A Hot Drink
I’ve seen this unspillable cup holder with my own eyes and I promise you, it actually does work (I know, I was dubious beforehand too). One of my lovely clients has Parkinson’s, so we got it for him and it helped give him back something so important – his independence at home.
If your loved one can n longer carry a hot drink any distance, and resorts to drinking it in the kitchen or needs assistance then this is for them. Thanks to some amazing science, the liquid doesn’t slosh around in the cup and the cup doesn’t move off the tray. The SpillNot cup holder is great for anyone with mobility problems, one-sided weakness, tremors or just worried about carrying hot liquid. One of those gadgets that don’t cost much and can really make the world of difference.
Removing Pills From Blister Packs
Sometimes it’s the simplest inventions that make you go ‘how did we live without this?!’. The Pivotell Pill Popper is a nifty gadget that helps people with limited hand strength and fluidity get the right medication out as it’s needed, and place it in their pill dispenser.
This blister pack pill popper works a bit like a hole punch. The blister pack is placed in the pill popper and the transparent tube in the dossette box. Simply pull the handle to pop the tablet out. With an adjustable opening for small or large pills, it’s a sanitary, accurate and easy way to keep on top of daily medication management.
Kettle For Arthritic Hands
When it comes to hot water, safety is paramount which is why we love the Uccello Kettle. It really does make pouring easy.
The designer was inspired by his psoriatic arthritis to create a product that let him stay independent and safe when making his daily brew. This led to the Uccello Kettle tipper. I was instantly impressed on picking one up and could think of countless people I’d want to gift one to.
It comes in two parts – there’s a stand which plugs into the wall, and the kettle slots into this. Rather than having a handle running down the side of the kettle, it is ergonomically placed on the top. Lightly hold it and push the kettle forwards to 90 degrees, and the water will be dispersed.
It’s not just for people living with arthritis. Post stroke recovery, cerebral palsy, limited hand dexterity, Parkinson’s…this kettle really is a great and inexpensive senior living gadget.
Take The Weight Off Feet With A Perching Stool
Another useful product for everyday life. A perching stool is a good solution for someone who struggles to stand for too long but wants to cook as it takes the pressure off their feet. This is especially important for someone living alone but still wants to stay independent and keep cooking. We like this perching stool as it has a padded angled seat and adjustable legs. There are also side mounted bars for extra stability and safety.
Easy Open Jar Opener
We’re all using up the ingredients in our cupboards – and that means starting to find those jars that have been at the back for years. Weak hands (for example with arthritis) can struggle to open them, so we like this easy open jar opener. A good product for the elderly, it has eight circular openings so can be used on a variety of lid sizes, and will help them keep cooking solo.
It also comes with a rubber mat which you can use to place the jar on when opening – or for a multitude of other helpful things, such as placing your cup of tea on so it doesn’t slide when using a tray.
Hands Free Tin Opener
Another great product for seniors living at home, especially for when we’re raiding our pantries and relying on tins. This electric tin opener helps people with limited movement in their hands (arthritis, carpal tunnel, multiple sclerosis etc) by opening the tins for them with just one touch of the start button. It’s less expensive and in our opinion works better than the larger options that sit on the surface and take up space. We also love the name, Kitchen Mama! It requires 2 AA batteries which aren’t included.
This large display digital clock for elderly people living with dementia helps with confusion over what day, date and time it is. Losing track of time is an early symptom of dementia, and it’s a question which loved ones and carers hear often.
This day and night clock clears up any confusion. It spells out the date and time without any abbreviations, and the bright white text stands out against the black background. It helps the individual understand if it’s morning or evening – especially useful when the seasons change and the extra hours of light and darkness can easily confuse.
There are more advanced dementia clocks available, but we believe this inexpensive model deserves to be called a “life saver” by someone we know!
If your mum or dad has an Alexa Echo Show (with a screen) then you can use that to clearly show and speak the time and date. We’ve written more about why Alexa is so good for your older parents, you can have a good read of it here!
3. Making Life Easier For Seniors In The Living Room
Don’t Trip Over Rugs
Did you know that the majority of falls take place at home, and rugs are a major cause of this? If your parents don’t want to take their rugs up but you are concerned about them falling, then a good cost-effective solution is a rug gripper.
This brand comes in a variety of sizes and essentially sticks the rug to the floor (without harming either). So the corners of the rug won’t come up and the rug won’t slip on the floor when someone walks on it.
Say Goodbye To Nuisance Calls
A lot of our older clients experience nuisance calls which can be annoying and scary. Scammers are getting more experienced and seem to have no shame. And during self isolation it is harder to ignore them as we are home all the time.
There are some landline phones on the market which block 100% of nuisance and unwanted phone calls. We really like this everyday BT model. It also comes with three handsets (and charging bases), has an answerphone with 30-minute capacity and can store up to 200 contacts.
Best Grabber Tool For Elderly
Bending down to pick something up off the ground, holding things in weak hands for too long or reaching up high gets harder as we age. One of the easiest ways to help your parent stay safe when doing these movements (and help them feel independent), is a grabber stick.
This long handled pick up tool for elderly is just the ticket. The bright yellow means it’s easy to see and it comes in folding or fixed – it really comes down to personal preference. Plus you can choose the length of the reaching aid so it’s best suited to the individual (don’t go too long). It means that tasks like putting clothes into the washing machine or picking up letters that have fallen on the floor are much easier.
TV Speaker For The Hearing Impaired
One of our clients said the Sony Wireless Handy TV Speaker has “transformed her life”. It doesn’t just turn up the volume (as that would just make everything including background noise louder and not really help the situation), but it enhances dialogue so people who are hard of hearing can actually hear.
I found about it when my aunt bought one for my dad. After seeing it in action, it has been a gadger that we’ve suggested to a number of clients and it’s amazing what this can do for their happiness at home (no one wants to strain to watch TV do they).
It syncs with the TV and picks up the audio, playing it loudly just in the space where it is placed (so for example, put it next to your mum who has a hearing impairment. She can turn the volume on this up instead of the volume on the tele which will blast everyone – and then everyone is happy, listening at their preferred volume!). It’s wireless so can easily be moved around.
You can read our review of it here.
Make Sitting Down More Comfortable
I remember my grandma’s foot stool – it was knitted with wooden feet, helping her to elevate her swollen feet.
This height adjustable foot rest is a more suitable support to choose. Yes, it might not have a pretty embroidered cover but what it lacks in aesthetics it makes up for in function.
Ideal for someone who spends considerable time sitting down or suffers from edema, it just ensures that pressure is taken off the feet and blood is circulating.
It also can be turned over and used as a rocker, so is great for getting circulation going. It stays put on hard floors and carpet, and is a good solution if your parent isn’t ready to invest in a riser recliner chair or sits in different places in the house.
Machine washable and breathable, its mesh cover is pet friendly as pet hair can easily be removed.
Robot Vacuum Gets To Work
If you’re worried about your parents bending down to vacuum and carrying it around, then a robot vacuum could be a good solution. This model works on all flooring except high pile carpet and cleans continuously for 100 minutes at a go, getting into all crevices.
Charge it and use it. It doesn’t go up or down stairs, and make sure that any pet excrement has been cleared up before using the vacuum. We like this version as it’s a cost-effective model which works well and makes life easier for senior.
4. Staying Safe In The Bathroom
Toilet Frames Offer Added Safety
A toilet frame is a good temporary solution to aid stability when we can’t arrange for grab rails to be fitted. Use it when lowering yourself down and pulling yourself up from the toilet seat.
We like this version which can be moved in and out of place – useful if more than one person is using the toilet. It is height and width adjustable.
Stop Flooding The Bath
If your parents take a bath and you’re worried about them potentially forgetting to turn it off, this alarm could be for you. Simply put a battery in, attach it to the bath and if the water reaches a certain level, it will emit a loud (very loud!) alarm. This can be turned off by taking the battery out. A top product to help the elderly stay safe at home. Note, it doesn’t come with a 9V battery so you’ll need to purchase separately.
Get In And Out Of The Bath Safely
Getting in and out of the bath can be harder as we get older – we have less mobility and flexibility, and it can be easy to slip. A removable bath board is an inexpensive way to help people get in and out of the bath safely.
Place it across the top of the bath near where you would get in (it’s held in place with non-slip brackets). Then sit on it and use a stepped approach to lower yourself safely. Reverse for getting out. We like this NRS version.
Avoid Falls In The Bathroom
My mum has had a few falls, and that worry is always in the back of my mind – especially in the wet bathroom. Bathroom aids like this non slip bath mat really help us to feel reassured and mum to feel safer.
It’s inexpensive and can be used as the main mat (it’s comfortable enough to stand on) or if it doesn’t match the bathroom decor it can be used with a luxury bath mat on top of it. You can even use it in the bath or shower for extra stability. It really is a bit of a wonder gadget for elderly living alone – read more about bath mats here.
Feel Reassured With A First Aid Kit
Be prepared and get your parents a first aid kit. We like this version which is complete with bandages, tape roll, sterile eye wash and pads, medical scissors, tweezers, vinyl medical gloves, plasters, cold packs, antiseptic wipes and a foil emergency blanket. It also isn’t over stuffed so it’s easy to find what you’re looking for.
We hope your parents find these tried-and-tested products useful and give you peace of mind that they’re safe at home. We’ve got other articles on the topic of independent living and staying safe and well during self isolation. Check them out, and let us know any feedback, or other products you recommend by contacting us here. Thank you!
There’s lots of inexpensive products on the market that can help people stay safe and independent as they get older. From motion sensor night lights, smart vacuums, electric tin openers and bath boards, there is something for every need.
There are a number of products available which can make life easier for the elderly, helping them to stay at home. Prevent falls with motion sensor night lights, encourage them to sit whilst cooking with perching stools, use a bath board if they still take a bath for example. Read more here.