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As of 2010, 40.3 million people in the United States were senior citizens — that’s 13 percent of the population. By 2050, experts at the U.S. Census Bureau expect that number to more than double to 83.7 million, and for senior citizens to make up nearly 21 percent of the population.
Older people who live independently need homes that are tailored for their safety, and other unique needs. That means updating the home with devices to keep seniors safe, and tools that can make independent living easier and more reliable. But making sure you or your loved one stays safe and connected, even when living alone, doesn’t need to be expensive.
From bed rails, to kitchen tools, to shower seats, there are plenty of products available to help you make the adjustments you need for a safer and easier living situation.
In the Shower or Bath
Even if a walk-in bath isn’t in the budget and you are stuck with a shower stall, you can make bathing safer with a durable shower mat that can improve stability as you get in and out of the tub. The Essential Round Shower Mat and the Anti-Slip Anti-Bacterial Simple Deluxe Extra Long Slip-Resistant Bath Mat are both good choices to create a slip-resistant surface in a shower. This is critical, as a high proportion of fall injuries (e.g., hip fractures) occur in the bathtub. A shower seat is also a great idea, letting seniors use the shower stall without having to stand the entire time. This one has a full back and arms for sturdier seating.
In addition to a slip-resistant surface in the shower, you can also use a handle for extra support getting in and out of the stall or tub. A bath step can also make it easier to access the bath or shower.
Going to the Bathroom
The simple act of using a toilet can be difficult for many senior citizens. A toilet safety frame can help raise the seat and ensure that the person has a railing to assist him or her when they sit down or get up from the seat.
Cooking with Ease
Preparing food can be tough for older people if they do not have the right tools. An automatic can opener will open cans with the press of a button, and is an especially good option for people with arthritis. This one is also great for prying tight lids off jars, eliminating the need for someone stronger to assist.
It’s always a good idea to keep your mattress in good condition, regardless of what age you are. Waterproof mattress pads are a good idea in the event of an accident or unforeseen spillage.
Depending on the person’s needs, bed rails can also be useful for assisting you in and out of bed, or to keep you from falling out if you’re prone to tossing and turning. Some brands also feature convenient pouches to keep items in close reach, freeing up space on the nightstand.
Wearable technology is not just for people who want to keep track of how many miles they run. Some cellular carriers offer products seniors can use or wear that will notify emergency services if needed. GreatCall makes an array of phones and wearable devices such as the Splash, which can keep anyone living alone connected in the event of an emergency. The Jitterbug is a phone made for seniors, with handy features like larger lettering, that doubles as an emergency alert system. SafeGuardian makes an array of wearable technology products as well.
Caretakers can utilize mobile applications such as CareZone, Balance: For Alzheimer’s Caregivers, and RX Personal Caregiver to handle everything from medication management to keeping daily logs and recruiting help.
Today’s IT and design innovations mean that many senior citizens can enjoy independent living while their caretakers can rest assured they are in a safe environment — and always connected to those they love.