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Posted: August 31, 2008

Caregiving Gadgets & Gizmos

Safety and Simplicity for Your Caregiving

Safety, simplicity and convenience headline this installment of our quarterly feature on innovative new products for the elderly and their caregivers. From innovative bed sheets (no, I’m not kidding), to a cell phone simple enough for even the least technologically savvy senior to use, to a potentially lifesaving watch, we’ve got them here.

NeatSheets

Falls are always a concern for the elderly, and the bedroom is one area where it is dangerously easy to fall. Our loved ones can fall out of bed -- or fall while getting out of bed. NeatSheets help to reduce that risk. While they are designed with those in mind who spend a significant amount of time in bed, they can come in handy for anyone (I want some for myself).

NeatSheets are complete sets of sheets and pillowcases, but the “neat” part is the fitted sheet. It has handy pockets sewn into the sides. These pockets are great for holding common bedside items like the television remote, cordless phone, eyeglasses, medication, and so on. That way, a person doesn’t have to reach for items on a bedside table, possibly falling out of bed, or need to get up to find the items, magnifying the risk of tripping or slipping.

NeatSheets come in three sizes and 17 colors. They are also available in three different thread counts. Prices range from $39 to $199, depending on size and thread count. You can order NeatSheets at www.neatsheets.com or by calling 800-632-8233.

Archimedes Bath Lift

You may have noticed that we often review bath items in these new-product articles. That’s because bathing is so important and frequent. Not only is it necessary for maintaining good hygiene, but a warm bath can be a great way to relax and relieve stress. For the elderly, however, bathing can become a stressful activity. If they can no longer manage to bathe independently, they may struggle with the idea of needing assistance with something so personal, as well as the loss of privacy.

Bathing may also pose a safety concern. Therefore, we are always on the lookout for items that can help the elderly and disabled maintain as much independence and dignity as possible while safely enjoying their bath.

The Archimedes Bath Lift allows the elderly and disabled to safely enjoy relaxing soaks in the tub. The lift is a seat that fits into your existing bathtub. It rises to the height of the top of your tub, then lowers you into the tub. When you’re done with your bath, it lifts you up again. The lift is a wide seat, and it has a high back for support.

The lift is battery operated, relatively lightweight (less than 25 lbs.), and portable. It retails at $999. Call 800-289-0063 or visit www.bathliftdirect.com for more information.

Jitterbug Cell Phone

It seems that everyone has a cell phone these days. But they keep getting smaller and more complicated with a seemingly unending list of features. The elderly may have difficulty figuring out how to work these souped-up phones, and those with poor vision will find it hard to read the tiny displays.

Never fear, the Jitterbug is here. It’s the simplest cell phone we could find. It’s not too tiny, and it features large, bright, easy-to-view buttons and display. It has a louder volume than most cell phones, for those who are hard of hearing. Like a traditional house phone, this cell phone has a familiar dial tone to confirm service, which no other mobile phone has.

The Jitterbug doesn’t do anything fancy. You can’t play games on it or take pictures with it. You can’t check your email or the weather. It’s meant for those who want a phone for emergency purposes. You get 24-hour access to an operator. Emergency calls to 911 are free.

There are a couple different service plans to choose from, depending on how many minutes you want for your loved one. Long distance calls are no additional charge. The cost of the phone itself is $147 (service is extra). To order, call 866-540-0297 or visit www.jitterbugdirect.com.

Cadex Med Reminder and Alert Watch

This watch does so much more than tell time. First of all, you can program it to sound an alarm when it’s time for your loved one to take their medication, up to 12 times a day. Not only will an alarm trigger, but you can also program it to display the medication name and dosage they are to take. It’s not complicated to program, either.

And that’s not all. The watch also acts as a medical databank, in which you can program vital information such as your loved one’s name and phone number, medical conditions (such as diabetes or epilepsy), prescribed medications, allergies, blood type, emergency contact information, doctor’s name and phone number, and insurance information. And if you think about it, some of this information could be lifesaving in an emergency.

The Cadex watch retails for $89.95. To order, call 888-726-8805 or visit them online at www.cadexwatch.com.

AliMed Door Alarm

Keeping an elderly person with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia safe can be a challenge. At certain stages of the disease, patients are prone to wandering, which poses a safety risk. For example, they may go outside in their underwear in the snow, unknowingly risking their life in the elements. They may wander into busy traffic, or they may wander far from home and get lost.

At this stage, patients require round-the-clock care. So you may be staying with your loved one all the time, but you can’t watch them all the time. Maybe you are in the kitchen preparing dinner, or in the basement doing laundry. And Mom can take that busy minute to slip out the door.

Here’s where the AliMed door alarm can come to the rescue. It has a switch that looks like thin, flexible tweezers that is inserted between the door and the doorframe. When the door is opened, the tweezers arms separate, activating the alarm, which is loud enough to be heard over the sounds of conversation and appliances.

The AliMed door alarm sells for $21. Visit www.alimed.com or call 800-225-2610 to order.

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Kelly Morris is a former social worker and home health and hospice worker whose writing has appeared in a number of health-related journals. She lives in Mansfield, Ohio, and can be reached at multihearts@hotmail.com

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