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From Mobility to Daily Living: A Comprehensive Guide to Independent Living Aids

Mary Beth Zabel | Aug 11, 2023

Senior couple with nurse

Growing older brings all kinds of changes — both exciting and challenging. One of the biggest priorities for many seniors is preserving mobility and living life on their terms. That's where independent living aids can make all the difference! 

These handy products, designed to lend a helping hand with daily tasks, empower seniors to keep doing what they love safely and comfortably. This guide explores the different types of independent living aids, their benefits, and how they can empower older adults to thrive unassisted.

Ready to discover the aids that can boost your independence and well-being? Let's dive in!

What Are Independent Living Aids?

Independent living aids are tools, equipment, or products designed to help older adults maintain independence and safely perform daily activities. They come in a wide range of types and serve different purposes. Let’s review the main ones below! 

Mobility Aids for Independent Living

Canes and Walkers

Senior woman using walker

Whether it's a cane or walker, these mobility aids provide stability and support for those who have difficulty walking. Each type offers its unique advantages and considerations:

  • Canes are lightweight and easily maneuverable, but they may offer less stability than walkers. 
  • Walkers provide excellent stability but can be bulkier and less agile.


Senior woman using wheelchair

If your mobility is limited enough that getting around on foot is tough, a wheelchair may be the right solution for you. You've got two main options — manual and electric.

Manual wheelchairs are lighter, can be folded for storage, and can be customized to meet your needs. But you'll rely on your own strength and coordination to maneuver around.

Electric wheelchairs take the effort out of it and are easier to operate. However, you'll have to remember to charge the battery and do regular maintenance.

There's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to wheelchairs. Take time to think about your usual routine, physical abilities, home layout, and what would make your life easier. Be open to talking with your doctor or physical therapist about whether a manual or electric wheelchair suits you better. The right pick will have you rolling around happily in no time!


Senior woman using scooter

If you find yourself getting worn out when walking far, but don't require a wheelchair, a mobility scooter is a great solution. Scooters are handy for getting around the neighborhood or running errands without exhausting yourself.

Compared with wheelchairs, scooters give you more freedom to cruise along at your own pace. And they come in both 3-wheeled and 4-wheeled versions and you can pick the one that feels most stable for you.

While scooters make it easier to get out and about, be sure to follow some common-sense safety tips. Wear a helmet, drive slowly, watch for traffic, and take time to learn your specific scooter's unique features. With a little practice, scooting around will become second nature.

Daily Living Aids for Independent Living

Shower Benches, Grab Bars, and Shower Chairs

Shower benches, grab bars, and shower chairs

Showering can get tricky as we get older, but there's no need to sweat it! Shower benches give you a sturdy seat and reduce the chance of slipping. Grab bars placed in and around the tub provide extra stability if you're unsteady on your feet. And shower chairs allow you to sit comfortably throughout your scrub if standing too long is challenging.

Reachers and Long-Handled Shoehorns

Senior using shoe horn

Struggling to grab clothes or bend down to put on shoes is no fun! That's where handy helpers like reachers and long-handled shoehorns come in. Reachers let you easily pick up items or fetch what's out of arm's reach. Long-handled shoehorns slide your shoes on without all the grunting and bending. Simple aids like these make daily tasks like dressing go more smoothly, so you can start your mornings with a smile.

Adapted Cutlery, Plate Guards, and Non-Slip Mats

Plate on a non-slip mat

Struggling to keep a grip on utensils or worrying about spills can take the joy out of mealtime. Thankfully, some simple tools can help! Built-up handles and grips make cutlery easier to hold, plate guards corral messy foods, and non-slip mats keep dishes in place. These aids help make mealtime relaxing without the mess or frustration.

Pill Organizers and Medication Dispensers

Senior using pill organizer

Keeping track of multiple medications can quickly get confusing. Pill organizers reduce mistakes by neatly sorting your meds by time and day. Automated dispensers take it a step further by reminding you when it's time to take your next dose and giving you the right amount. With these handy tools, you don't have to stress about missing or mixing up your meds and can relax knowing your medications are under control.

Lifestyle and Safety Products for Independent Living

Medical Alert Devices and Systems

Senior using medical alert device

Feeling safe at home is a top concern. Whether you take a fall, feel ill, or are just worried, knowing that support is there with the touch of a button lets you live independently without constant worry or fear. Wearable pendants or wristbands connect you to an emergency response center or family member anytime you're in distress. 

Door Levers, Jar Openers, and Large-Print Items

Door handle

Regular home tasks can get tricky as we get older. Thankfully, some smart gadgets make daily chores a breeze! Door levers that open with a quick push eliminate sore wrists or fumbling with knobs. Jar openers provide a solid grip to pop those pesky lids right off. Likewise, large print books and magnifiers let you read without squinting or straining your eyes.

Adaptive Clothing and Single-Story Living Conversions

Senior using adaptive clothing

Sometimes, getting dressed can feel like a workout. Adaptive clothing makes it easier with modifications like Velcro and elastic waists to alleviate sore shoulders and straining with buttons. Home upgrades like converting to one-story or adding handrails also boost safety by reducing falls. With some simple clothing and home adaptations, you can move through your day with greater comfort, confidence, and peace of mind.

Things To Consider When Choosing Independent Living Aids

Senior man talking with doctor

Assessing Mobility Limitations, Needs, and Home Layouts

Choosing the right aids comes down to an honest self-assessment of your needs, abilities, and home layout. Collaborating with medical professionals, particularly doctors and occupational therapists, can provide valuable insights into appropriate aids too. Taking the time to evaluate your unique situation leads to smart choices. You'll find solutions that truly fit your needs and make daily life smoother.

Renting, Buying, and Insurance Coverage

Should you rent aids or buy them? It depends! For short-term needs, renting is likely cheaper. But buying your own allows customization if you'll use them long-term. Insurance can cover costs, too, so be sure to dig into your policy's fine print. Do your homework upfront to make the financially savvy choice. The right aid is out there for your budget; a little research will help you find it!

The Benefits of Independent Living Aids

The right aids make all the difference in your staying active and independent. Whether you need a mobility boost, help with daily tasks, or added safety measures, there are tons of great options to choose from. Taking time to find well-fitted aids that work for your lifestyle empowers you to keep living joyfully on your own terms. 

With the help of these clever gadgets and gizmos, you can tackle each day with confidence, comfort, and dignity. The path to enjoying more good years starts with the aids that best fit your needs!

Independent Living Communities in Minnesota

If you’re looking for a place for your next chapter, Walker Methodist is a faith-based nonprofit that owns, operates, and manages over 15 senior living communities in Minnesota and Wisconsin. We help older adults find the perfect community to call home and provide healthcare, rehabilitation, and services to seniors and the people who support them.

Find the perfect location for your needs below. 

View Independent Living Communities


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