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Gadgets for the Elderly

For the past 15 years, Joy Loverde, an eldercare advocate and expert, has been giving workshops across the country on issues involving the aging population. She has authored The Complete Eldercare Planner (published 2000)--a primer for the caregiver on where to start, questions to ask, and how to find help when caring for elderly loved ones. She also has a Web site,, where you can go for more information.

The depth of our aging population is astounding: 6,000 Americans have their 65th birthday each day; every 7.5 seconds another baby boomer turns 50; and, remarkably, today one in 10,000 people are 100 years or older. In fact, Americans are enjoying better health and leading more active lives, independent lives, for longer than ever before. No more than 6% of older Americans are living in nursing homes or places where someone else is handling most of their care. Most older people live at home, in their own communities, and 80% of their care is fulfilled by family members or home-based outside services.

The exciting news is that there are many innovative, convenient products that make it easier for the elderly to care for themselves at home. These products, called "golden gadgets," enhance the quality of life for older people and help them maintain their independence.

The "golden gadgets" are everyday products that help with the everyday effects of aging: including vision and hearing loss and dexterity problems. Eldercare expert Joy Loverde suggests some of the following:

  • Hearing aid battery dispenser: Energizer EZ Change--The patent-pending Energizer EZ Change is the world's first hearing aid battery dispenser that eliminates the need to handle hearing aid batteries or tabs. This is a great gadget for older people who wear hearing aids and have difficulty changing the small batteries because of vision and dexterity problems. Now the elderly can change their batteries by themselves, wherever and whenever they want.

According to Joy Loverde, "of the three most common aging problems--hearing, vision, and dexterity--hearing is the largest issue. More than 28 million people suffer from some hearing loss. It compromises quality of life and is a contributing factor to isolation--a huge problem among the elderly." Joy adds, "One of the main reasons people have problems with hearing aids is handling the tiny batteries. With this new device a magnet helps dispense fresh, sealed batteries eliminating the need to hold the battery itself."

  • Key lever: Older Americans with dexterity problems can have a hard time turning the key in a lock. The lever allows locks to be opened easily and quickly without finger or wrist pain. Up to four standard keys can be inserted and stored into the four arms.

"Many elder adults are bothered by wrist pain and more commonly lose their sensation in their fingertips," says Joy, "so the simple process of turning a key n a lock [which we do every day] can be difficult. Using the key lever reduces pain and aggravation."

  • Ring pen: Handling a pen is something that can be difficult and tiring for people with arthritis and other dexterity problems. The ring pen is an ergonomically correct designed pen that helps make it easier for these people to write. The index finger slips through a hole in the pen and offers a place for the writing finger to be rested while writing. The ring pen removes pressure from the wrist and joints while writing.

"Many of us take for granted the process of handling a pen," says Joy. "Elder adults, again, have difficulty using a pen because of arthritis or loss of sensation. Using a ring pen removes the pressure from the wrist and joints allowing you to write all day long."

  • Liquid level indicator: Older Americans with vision problems can have difficulty judging when liquid reaches the top of a cup or a pot. This i potentially dangerous if a hot liquid such as boiling water overflows, scalding the individual. The Liquid Level Indicator is an old take on the "Say when" idea. It beeps when liquid is an inch from the top of a container
  • Talking thermometer: Visually impaired seniors frequently have to rely on others to assist them when they are sick, including having their temperature taken since their diminished eyesight prevents them from reading the thermometer. This gadget is used just like a regular thermometer but a voice announces the temperature after the device is finished reading it.
  • Talking watch: Older people with vision problems can tell time with this great talking device. The watch has large, easy-to-read black numbers and announces the time when a button is pushed. This talking watch is made by Corsair USA, as well as by other manufacturers.
  • Backtalker phone dialing device: This product is designed to help elderly people with vision problems accurately dial phone numbers, helping them stay connected with their families and communities. It's also important that the elderly dial the phone in case of an emergency. The unit plugs into your existing phone and announces each number being dialed as you dial it. The device has a volume control that can be adjusted to ensure the user can hear the number.

"In an emergency situation seconds count and dialing a correct number is critical," insists Joy. "if you have poor eyesight or have trouble grabbing the phone in the middle of the night, then this gadget is for you, and can be a lifesaver. It announces each number as you dial."
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