Are you new to caregiving? Do you have a new patient, or a spouse or parent, who recently has become unable to tend to him or herself? If so, then this is as new to you as it is to them.
So, it’s time to educate yourself on what’s out there. By this time, you probably realize that you need assistance in assisting them. We call these adaptive or assistive products.
The main idea behind adaptive or assistive products is that they help close the gap between what a person wants to do and what a person is currently capable of doing. For example, your husband may truly wish to rise from bed by himself, but because of injury, illness, or age, he is unable to do so. Thus, you must assist him. An assistive device, such as a bed caddy, helps him raise himself up in bed by himself. The bed caddy closes the gap between his want (sit up by himself) and his current ability (he cannot do so).
The second idea behind assistive devices is that, for the most part, they aid the person with tasks that he or she already does. In other words: everyday tasks. Assistive devices rarely impose new activities upon the person. For instance, wall switch extensions are available which give wheelchair users and others the ability to turn light switches on and off more easily and comfortably. Flipping switches is an ordinary, everyday task, and the assistive device merely…assists. But it does not replace the task with an unfamiliar task.
Weighted toothbrush and razor holders provide weight to keep hand tremors at bay. But they do not usurp the job of brushing teeth or shaving.
In a few cases, the assistive products bear little resemblance to the products they are replacing. Table-mounted scissors at first glance may resemble a paper-cutter more than conventional scissors. Or what about pen holders with a “yoke” to allow the index finger to steady the pen–these may warrant a raised eyebrow. Yet typically these assistive products are so easy to “catch onto” and have such a high degree of functionality that users quickly adapt to them, and then later swear that they couldn’t imagine living without them.
Finally, all assistive products are very well-designed and are made for the specific purpose of helping people with everyday tasks. Also, these products often result from extensive testing or from real-life needs. For instance, a lever extender for reclining chairs has one and only one purpose: to assist folks who have trouble pulling back the recliner lever. Bed cradles, which hold bed covers comfortably above feet, were designed and created just for that sole purpose.
Investigate the wide variety of assistive devices out there to help you help your spouse, patient, or parent become more independent in everyday life.