Mobility aids for independent living
You can get there from here reaching and mobility aids for
For more information see Independent Living.
The freedom to move from place to place in your home and out
in the community is critical to independent living. If you have problems with
movement, balance or coordination, there are a number of devices that may help
you move around and accomplish everyday activities. This brochure includes
information on devices to help with reaching, walking, and support. Pushing,
pulling, grasping and turning are movements that can be easier for you with a
The models shown here have been designed to cover a wide
range of activities and can help people with a weak or painful grip, or those
with limited range of motion.
The most common reachers consist of a pair of jaws
controlled by a trigger mechanism. Made of lightweight aluminum and plastic,
they are available in a variety of sizes and lengths. The desk-sized model,
about 24” long, is useful for retrieving objects on your desk, kitchen counter
or bedside table. A mid-range length, about 28” long, is useful for everyday
activities such as picking up objects from the floor or reaching high storage
areas. An extra-long model of 32” is also available if you need extended reach.
Features you’ll find useful include a magnet for clutching
and holding metal objects, and a projecting lug for pulling things toward you.
Reachers that fold are available with toggle (rather than trigger) closing
action, swivel heads, or forearm extensions.
Prices vary depending on the size and features. Reachers are
available at most medical supply stores.
Mobility can be complicated by many factors, such as pain
and weakness in the legs or back, uncertain balance or dizziness, muscular
tremors or spasms, as well as paralysis. Canes and walkers can enhance your
mobility in and out of your home.
canes can be purchased at many drugstores, you should consult with your
doctor if you are having frequent or pronounced periods of weakness,
dizziness, or poor coordination.
Consider the following
factors when selecting a cane:
Height: The handle should be at the height of your hip
Weight: The cane should be easy to lift
Handle: The grip should be comfortable and secure.
Base: Canes are available with single tips, or 4-legged,
Another option available is a loop on the handle of the
cane, to free your hands for other activities. Also, a fold-down ice gripping
tip can be attached to the side of the cane.
are particularly useful for individuals with balance problems, since it
provides support through both arms at a fixed distance. Walkers come in a wide
range of heights and weights, with a variety of handle styles. Ask your doctor
or physical therapist for help in making a selection.
Making changes in your environment can also greatly enhance
your ability to get from place to place in your home. Strategically placing
your furniture or installing grab bars are just some of the ways you can make
getting around easier for yourself. Even how you dress can make a difference in
Arrange your furniture so that as you walk around your house, the
different pieces can be used for support. Remove small rugs, that aren’t tacked
down, as they are easy to trip over.
Clothing and Footwear
Choose pants and tops that do not restrict motion. Don’t
wear clothing that trails behind you. Wear shoes with textured soles that
provide better grip. Removable cleats are available at camping store, and can
provide better footing on ice and snow.
Grab bars make the most of your strength by giving you extra
support when and where you need it, such as climbing in and out of the bathtub,
your bed, or negotiating a flight of stairs.
A grab bar looks like a towel rack, but is designed to be
strong enough to support your weight and more. Flanges on the ends of the bar
have sturdy screws for installation, preferably into wall studs. There should
be room between the bar and the wall for you to get a good grip, and the
diameter of the bar should feel solid in your hand. Made of plastic or
rust-resistant metal, the bar may have a rough surface to prevent slipping.
Many shapes and sizes are available for different uses; most are wall-mounted,
but some attach to the edge of your bathtub.
Some considerations in
selecting a grab bar:
a bar and a location which lets you use your strongest muscles most
sure the bar you select is long enough. If you run out of support before
you are fully standing, you could lose momentum and fall.
occupational therapist can help you with decisions about what kind of bars
you need and where to place them.
Different shapes and sizes of grab bars can be purchased at
plumbing supply stores, some department and hardware stores, or at
medical/surgical supply stores. If you can’t find one to suit your needs, some
companies will custom design a bar at a higher price. You may also be able to
arrange standard bars in sequences to give you the support you need.