Understanding private insurance that covers the gap between what Medicare pays and what a provider charges.
Expert Elder Care Guidance
Expert Elder Care Guidance
The “assistive devices” industry has created thousands of products to make the activities of independent living easier for seniors. Yet, far too many people don’t know that assistive technology exists or where to find assistive devices. Here’s what you need to know.
Clever products for better living
The world is full of creative people looking for ways to solve “routine” problems. They invented a stocking aid with long strings that keeps you steady and gets your socks on without the usual stumbling. Is juggling a cane and a flashlight making you unsteady? There’s a “path light cane” that lights the way to where you’re going. About ready to throw out your shirts or blouses because buttoning them has become an anger-management issue? There is a simple button hook that makes buttoning up your shirt easy. The examples of senior help are endless.
So, where do you find these clever lifesavers that are so helpful for independent living? The most objective and comprehensive list of assistive devices is compiled by Abledata – a program sponsored by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR). Their website allows you to search for assistive devices in 19 categories ranging from “Architectural Elements” to make the built environment more accessible (lighting, sensors, lifts, ramps), to “Transportation,” which makes getting around in cars much easier.
You can access customer reviews of products and link directly to the manufacturer to buy the product. All you do is enter a word or phrase in the search box and in seconds you’ll find plenty of products to choose from. If you cannot access the website, give them a call at 1.800.227.0216. They do not send out catalogues, but for a small fee they’ll print out copies of what you may be interested in and send it to you. You don’t have to pay anything for them to search for assistive devices for you over the phone. An example of a commercial company selling assistive devices is Senior Emporium and you can reach them by calling 1.888.299.5232 or visit them at senioremporium.com.
Establishing your needs
Your physician can give you a sense of what you need. First, ask him or her to prescribe Occupational Therapy. Occupational Therapists (OTs) help people perform the activities of daily living (eating, bathing, using the toilet, cooking, dressing, and doing basic household chores). A therapist can come to your home and identify ways to make it safer, and show you how to use adaptive equipment and devices. The OT can also get you involved in creative activities during occupational therapy to help you with daily functioning. OTs have received special training and are licensed.
Paying for adaptive equipment
Medicare helps pay for medically necessary outpatient physical and occupational therapy when a physician prescribes it and the therapist sets up the plan of treatment under his or her review. Hospitals, home health agencies, and rehabilitation agencies that are Medicare-certified often provide Occupational Therapy, as do private practice therapists. To find out more call 1.800.MEDICARE (1.800.633.4227).
Community services may also help you: Check out the local Easter Seal Society and Association for the Blind as they may provide services to help you learn about and receive assistive devices. Your local senior center is also a good resource to find secondhand equipment and devices that can be given, loaned or sold to you for a very low price.
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