A Livable Lesson

How to Create a "Handy Tools" Display

Certain household utensils and gadgets can be very helpful to older adults — if they know which ones to look for and how to use them



Displaying tools on the picket fence sections keeps the tools organized and allows easy access for reaching and trying the devices even if a person is a wheelchair user or very short.

  • Items hung from the picket fence include a seat belt extender, a seat belt grabber handle, weighted writing tools, long-handled toe-nail clippers, a long-handled shoe horn, a key turner, magnifiers, an LED sensor light, a push-and-pull oven rack tool and a standing assist device.
  • The wooden frames are used to display items that need to be installed, such as lever-style door handles, a mounted jar opener, grab bar, smoke detector with a strobe light, vehicle transfer support handle and a battery-operated portable strobe door bell.

  • The table space displays items that cannot be hung — such as the medication boxes, one-touch can opener, the talking clock, LED night lights, prism glasses, grabbers and the shoeware.


Counting the materials needed to build the display, the table and the displayed items themselves, the cost comes to about $575. If the building materials and the table are donated or gathered from scrap, deduct about $125 from the total cost.


Bowdoinham’s tool table is semipermanently on display in the Bowdoinham Town Office in an 8-foot x 8-foot space that allows residents to try the devices whenever the town office is open. The display was designed to be portable, and it has traveled to Bowdoinham’s Annual Aging Well(ness) Fair and Celebrate Bowdoinham. ACOA has also shared the tool table with neighboring communities.


The Advisory Committee on Aging's three-year action plan includes objectives for housing services that support aging in place. An aspect of the plan is to make affordable home modification information and services available. The tool table display is an inexpensive way to educate people about devices that can help them adapt to the physical changes that come with age.

In addition to displaying the tools, the tool table holds copies of the AARP HomeFit Guide and the No-Cost/Low-Cost Ideas brochure. Both have helped visitors think about affordable home modifications.

Although it wasn't an initial goal of the project, the tool table display in Bowdoinham has attracted people of all ages — including young mothers looking for a way to do things single-handedly, shoppers buying gifts for relatives, middle-aged people wanting to simplify their lives and older adults in need of devices to help them adapt to age-related changes.

Says Patricia Oh, Bowdoinham's older adults service coordinator: "Everyone, of every age, is happier when they have the tools to make life easier."



Published October 2015

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