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Gadgets to Make Life Easier

Devices that can help with daily tasks

New technology and apps for caregivers

Bernhard Lang/Getty Images

New technology can be useful for caregivers.

As our parents age, it can become more difficult for them to perform everyday tasks, such as making dinner or climbing the stairs. They may not see or hear as well as they once did. Or, it may simply be more difficult for them to get themselves around.

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Thankfully, there are gadgets and assistive devices that can help with many daily activities, including:

  • Getting dressed
  • Taking a shower
  • Reaching out-of-the-way places
  • Opening doors
  • Reading and writing
  • Remembering to take medicine
  • Hearing someone on the phone

These things don't have to be fancy or expensive. Some can even be homemade, such as using different colored rubber bands on pill bottles to visually differentiate them. Others can be purchased — and your health insurance may cover the cost. Ask your doctor, nurse or other health care professional for advice.

Here are some gadgets that could prove helpful:

If you have trouble hearing

  • Telephone amplifiers with adjustable tone, pitch and volume.
  • Flashing-light phones, doorbells and smoke alarm/carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Cordless headphones for televisions.
  • Vibrating alarm clocks you can put under your pillow.

If you have trouble seeing

  • Talking watches, clocks, timers, calculators, scales and indoor/outdoor thermometers.
  • Talking heart and blood pressure monitors.
  • Writing aids such as large-grip pens and other pen designs that reduce shaking and muscle pain.
  • Tactile knobs for stoves with raised dots to show settings.
  • Battery-lighted magnifiers for reading.
  • Magnifiers for television and computer screens.
  • Voice-activated, automatic telephone dialers.
  • Remote controls with large buttons and numbers for televisions, cable boxes, VCRs and DVDs.
  • Computers with large-letter keyboards, plus voice-recognition and speech software.

If you have trouble remembering

  • Electronic pill boxes with an alarm signal to take medicine.
  • Telephone with memory dialing and spaces for pictures of frequent callers.
  • Timed faucets that automatically turn water off.
  • Electric appliances with automatic turnoff switches.

If you have trouble getting around and performing everyday tasks

  • Long-handled “reachers” for retrieving items on low or high shelves.
  • Gadgets that help you put on socks or stockings.
  • Lever-style adapters that make turning door handles and faucets easier.
  • Widened tub edges and grab bars to ease getting in and out of the bath.
  • Clothing and shoes with Velcro fasteners.
  • Specially designed cooking tools, such as cutting boards with finger guards and can openers that won’t leave sharp edges.
  • Rails and platforms that make it easier to get in and out of bed, chairs or cars.
  • Kitchen gadgets with large, easy-to-hold handles.

You may also like: Assessing your loved one's situation.

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