When planning for the costs associated with growing older, people often only consider Seniors housing prices. However, your planning should also take into consideration that at some point you may need some equipment or a paid caregiver, especially if you wish to remain in your own home. You might not ever need them, but if you do, it is good to know what this might cost. This month, Elder Voice focuses on equipment.
Needs for equipment often come on slowly. It might start with a cane or raised toilet seat, but if an illness or condition progresses you could end up buying enough equipment to outfit what may seem like a private hospital in your home. While this may avoid a move to a nursing home, purchases of electric hospital beds, lifts, alarms, wheelchairs, grab bars and ramps can reach $10,000 to $15,000 or more. Like the saying goes, anything is possible if you have money.
Mobility aids are some of the most common equipment people need. These include canes, walkers, wheelchairs, and scooters. If the time comes when you need to consider one of these, make sure they are suited to the uses to which you will put them. Individual requirements stem from the nature of a disability, and your body size. Wheelchairs especially need to be properly measured by someone who is qualified to do this, such as an Occupational Therapist.
A second group of equipment could be considered transfer aids–items that help someone move on and off a bed, chair or toilet. They include mechanical lifts, grab bars and railings, ceiling lifts, and motorized arm chairs. Transfer equipment also includes staircase glides and home elevators. Similar to mobility aids, these may range from simple and relatively inexpensive to costing several thousands of dollars.
People living alone often have alert and monitoring systems which call an emergency response centre if the person falls. They consist of a device with an activating button worn by the person and pressed if there is an emergency, triggering the alarm system.They may have an automatic component which senses automatically when someone has fallen and will alert the monitoring centre even if the person does not press the button. Other alarm systems include bed and door alarms which signal if someone has gotten (or fallen) out of bed or opened a door or window. There are also systems that will visually monitor someone and alert a designated contact if there is an emergency.
There are a number of other pieces of equipment available that often are useful in making someone’s life easier. They include modified cutlery, equipment to help one dress independently,aids to bathing such as bath chairs and boards, and kits to put a door in a bath tub so that one can step in, without having to step over. To see the range of what is available, visit a Home Health store or website.
Beyond the costs of equipment,you may have to make modifications to your home if you have an illness or disability. For example, you might need to lower kitchen cabinets, modify a bathing area, widen doorways to accommodate a wheelchair, or install a ramp to the entrance to your home. There are builders who specialize in these kinds of home renovations and there are government grants that are available in certain cases to cover some of the costs.
Below are some very general examples of equipment costs. They can be higher or lower depending on the complexity and quality of the systems, where you buy them, where you live, and other factors.
Remember that many pieces of equipment can be rented or borrowed. See our next article.
- Canes: $20.00
- Walkers: $100-$450.00
- Wheelchairs: For transport $200.00. Individually fitted for daily use: $2500.00- $4500.00
- Scooters: $2400.00-$5,000.00
- Hospital beds: $3,000.00-$5,000
- Lifts: Manual: $1200.00 Ceiling: $6,000.00
- Home Elevators:$25,000-$65000.00
- Staircase lift systems: $3500.00-$12,000.00 and up
- Bath benches and chairs: $150.00
- Bath lift: $1200.00
- Bath tub door kits: $900.00
- Transfer poles: $150.00-$350.00
- Bed alarms: 200.00 (Plus monitoring costs)
- Ramps: (from just over a door to up several steps) $200.00-$8,000.00
- Fall monitoring systems: Monthly $50.00-75.00
- Remote visual monitoring: Monthly $50.00-$100.00
- Medication dispensing machines with monitoring: $800.00
- Incontinence protection supplies: Per Package: $25.00-45.00
To learn more about wheelchair and walker concerns, please see these past issues of Elder Voice:
Where to Borrow, Rent or Buy Equipment
For short term equipment needs, call the Red Cross in your area to see if they have a loan programme. You may need a referral from a health professional to be eligible. Seniors residences in the private sector often have equipment they lend or give their residents although many do not and it is generally the responsibility of the Resident to provide their own. Publicly funded nursing homes usually provide basic equipment.
If you are unable to access equipment from the Red Cross, you will have to buy or rent what you need. There are many Home Health stores that sell products online or in person. Search the internet under “home health care products” or visit our sister site, Elderpost.com.
Remember to know exactly what your needs are before you purchase. Stores often have staff who can help you find the right size, but if you are working with an occupational therapist or physiotherapist, they are the best people to start with for help on specifications and finding equipment. They often have relationships with a particular vendor.
Elderpost.com has several categories dedicated to used equipment. You can also search Craigslist. Home Health Care products vendors may sell used as well as new equipment. As with any online shopping, buyer beware! Check out whatever you are buying carefully and do not pay for anything before you have the equipment or valid contact information. As mentioned in the previous article, nursing homes and seniors residences often have equipment that has been left when someone has moved or has passed away. They may cite liability issues and not want to give or sell something, but it might be worthwhile to call around.