Shopping for seniors? Caveat emptor

grandma with walker

Grandma’s walker will help her get around better. It could also turn her into a human bulldozer.

If you’re a caregiver, one of your primary responsibilities is ensuring the person you care for has the basics for day-to-day living. Supply is no issue; there are entire stores, catalogs and websites devoted to helping people cope with the challenges of aging. But some products have unintended consequences. They may make it easier for Dad to get around or help Grandma see better. Yet for every problem they solve, these items can ultimately cause more trouble than they’re worth.

pros: Lightweight and portable, walkers improve seniors’ stability and security for peace of mind and fewer falls.

cons: Once you give Grandma wheels, get out of her way. With newfound speed and metal protection on three sides, she won’t think twice about mowing other old people down en route to her favorite destination.

reverse keyboards
pros: Larger, hazard-yellow keys with big black letters and numbers make it easier for seniors to keep using their computers.

cons: The longer Grandma’s on the web, the more chain emails she’s going to forward you. You’ll also spend countless hours helping her find misplaced files, figuring out her cat chewed through her Internet connection and explaining that no, her email isn’t gone, it’s just sorted by name instead of date.

stair lifts
pros: A motorized chair that takes seniors up and down stairs greatly decreases their likelihood of falling.

cons: When Grandma climbed the stairs on her own, you could always hear her coming, which gave everyone plenty of time to turn down the stereo or change the conversation. Her silent stair lift lets her come and go in stealth mode, so you never know when she’s going to burst through the basement door to interrogate everyone about her checkbook or hand over her latest grocery list.

 Life Alert
pros: When a senior has Life Alert, help is always a button away.

cons: Sooner or later, that button is going to be too tempting. They’re going to push it to find out if it works, and the next thing you know there will be an ambulance and fire truck parked in front, paramedics storming your house and you trying to diplomatically explain Grandma’s “fall” was really a stumble and the emergency was more of a trial run.

companion animals
pros: A furry friend’s companionship provides stimulation and diminishes the symptoms of depression.

cons: You could end up dealing with a hissing, hateful animal that poops everywhere and spews hairballs like a Pez dispenser.

big button phones
pros: Communication is a necessity, and bigger buttons make it easier for seniors to place calls in an emergency.

cons: Who needs to worry about silly cell phone minutes that are already paid for? When you’ve got a big button phone you can call all your friends wherever they are! Your caregiver will take care of the bill.

Image credit: wavebreakmediamicro / 123RF Stock Photo


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