Grandmother’s Little Helpers

Senior with magnifying glass

As they age, most seniors want to remain active and independent as long as possible. Many would prefer to live in the familiar home they’ve loved, even when the tasks of daily living become difficult. Many have friends and family who are willing to help, but seniors would still rather do as much as possible for themselves.

Fortunately, the modern world offers a number of clever tools that promote freedom and safety for older adults. With advances in technology, there are more of these aids coming onstream every year. What are those little helpers in life? Here are ten senior independent living aids worth considering:

1. Medical Alert Systems

Medical Alert Device

We’re all familiar with the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” commercials, but monitoring devices can be a literal lifesaver in any type of emergency, not just falls. Some are worn around the neck and others on the wrist. Some require the wearer to be conscious and able to activate them, but others come with a 24/7 monitoring service. These detect body movement and can be set up to inform a loved one or an emergency center if a fall is happening or is even about to happen. For someone who lives alone and has a disabling stroke, time is of the essence and this type of alert system can save a life or at least mitigate some of the damage if the patient is located quickly and paramedics can administer treatment on the way to the hospital.

2. Smart Home Devices

To people who have grown up with today’s technology, telling an inanimate object to turn on the lights or play music feels normal. It might be a new experience for older people, but once they try it, many wonder how they ever got along without it. For people with limited mobility, or for those who have difficulty pushing buttons and flipping switches, Alexas and Echos are a huge help. It’s a bonus when seniors discover these devices can answer questions and issue reminder alerts.

3. Tub and Shower Safety Aids

The bathroom is the most dangerous room in the house, but there are senior bathing aids to make it less so. Everyone, not just seniors, should have a no-slip mat on the shower floor. A grab bar mounted on the shower side wall is useful not only for getting in and out but also for soaping up while bending or standing on one leg. Finally, a shower chair is the ultimate tool for bathroom safety, enabling you to sit down while you shower.

Bathroom Grab Bars

4. Sensor Lights

These are motion detector lights that screw into a normal socket. Any time you walk into the room, the light comes on without your having to fumble for the switch. These lights save electricity by shutting off when you leave the room. They are a tremendous convenience for anyone who gets up several times during the night!

5. Friendlier Cell Phones


Many smartphones have an abundance of advanced capabilities that most people never use, no matter how young or tech-savvy. On the other hand, there are phones designed with older adults in mind. Some have oversize icons. Others feature a main screen filled with large buttons for the half-dozen or so functions people actually use, for example, calling, texting, email, internet browsing or taking pictures. Many have prominent built-in safety apps so that seniors can easily call for medical help.

6. Jar and Can Openers

Jar lid remover

Jar lids can be a challenge for anybody, and for an older person with arthritis or declining strength, that challenge might be insurmountable without a bit of assistance. Handheld jar openers include strong grips that hold the lid firmly and have multiple circular openings for different jar sizes. The alternative is a lid gripper that mounts under the cabinet. You just hold the jar by the body, push the lid into the V-shaped gripping slot and turn.

Opening a can of soup can be not only difficult but also hazardous when it exposes sharp lid edges. There are small handheld electric can openers, but a safer and easier choice is an opener that stands on the countertop or mounts on the wall. These do all the opening while you simply hold the can.

7. Reachers and Grabbers

Reacher & Grabber tool

When a senior drops something, they might just stand there for a minute and wonder how they will get down and retrieve it. A reacher gives you the longer arms you need. It’s useful for retrieving things on the floor as well as for bringing objects down from high shelves. Some can even change light bulbs!

Getting dressed is no problem for a younger person, but people reach an age where it takes a bit of effort. Zippers and buttons can become a challenge for stiffening fingers. Fortunately, there are devices, small handheld rods, that push buttons through holes and hook onto zipper pulls.

A sock aid is a useful specialty item. It’s a strap and funnel device that enables you to pull up socks without excessive bending.

8. Lighted Magnifying Glasses

Magnifying glass

People are always telling you to read the fine print. However, the older your eyes get, the harder that is to do. A standard small magnifier is of some help, but most seniors prefer one with a large viewing window. Add a light, and those mysterious squiggles magically turn into words!

9. Smart Pill Dispensers

Taking meds

These devices go several steps beyond the 7-day pill organizers. They issue an alert if the pill has not been dispensed on schedule. They sound the alarm if the person forgets they already took it and is about to take an extra dose. They can keep loved ones informed remotely through email or phone. They’ll even remind you when it’s time to request a refill.

10. Bidet Toilet Seats


Europeans have used bidets for years, but they’re new to most Americans. These seats eliminate the need for dangerous and strenuous twisting and turning. They help maintain a senior’s dignity; they make it unnecessary to call in help for a task people prefer to do on their own and in private. There are even portable bidet sprayers available.

And Where Do We Find Grandmother’s Little Helpers?

The most obvious place is amazon where I was able to locate almost everything on this list. There are other vendors, no doubt, but amazon makes it super easy to locate and purchase whatever tool it is we need in order to make our lives a little easier and our independence more assured. I for one would opt for the jar opener so that I can access that much-needed pickle juice the next time I feel a cramp coming on.