If you’ve been reading how-to ideas on the Internet lately, you’ve probably come across the term “hack.”
One definition of the word is a new technique that solves an old problem.
Normally a hack is not an expected solution but something clever that gets the job done in a new and unique way—like taking a picture of prescriptions with a smartphone camera so you have it handy for a doctor or emergency room visit.
Clever solutions are becoming more the norm as so many of us are dealing with the challenges of aging.
Here are some hacks I’ve learned that can make life easier for seniors or their family caregivers:
Television remotes have become a mass of complicated buttons. If you want to easily see and feel the right buttons to press to get the TV on and off or to change a channel, consider taking clear adhesive silicone rubber bumps and placing them on the buttons most used.
How does a senior with mobility or voice issues get the attention of their caregiver when they are at the other end of the house? For less than $25, you can purchase a wireless, battery-operated door chime with a lighted doorbell push button. The caregiver carries the door chime with them and the senior holds on to the doorbell push button to call the caregiver if necessary. Since the doorbell push button is lighted, it’s even easy to see in the dark.
If bending in the shower is a challenge, try placing a bar of soap in a pair of pantyhose and tying it to the shower door or grab bar for easy retrieval if it slips out of your hand.
If handling a set of playing cards is difficult, slice an 18-inch section from a foam pool noodle and cut a slit in it lengthwise with a knife to create a makeshift card holder. Use the rest of the noodle underneath a fitted sheet as a bed bumper to help prevent rolling over and falling out of bed.
When hand dexterity is a challenge, place rubber bands around a drinking glass for a better grip.
If buttoning pants becomes troublesome, remove the button and sew on some Velcro. It makes fastening and unfastening pants quick and easy.
Also, cut the feet off calf-length athletic socks and use the leg sections as elbow protectors for seniors with very thin skin.
If you live alone and are concerned something may happen to you overnight and no one will know, make a deal with a neighbor. Each evening pull down a window shade on a window visible to them, and each morning open the shade. Your neighbor will know you made it through the night and are fine.
Remember to keep your car keys next to your bedside and press the car alarm to alert neighbors if you’re in trouble.
Over the next 15 years, 10,000 baby boomers a day will turn 65. Plato’s “Necessity is the mother of invention” observation was probably never as true as it is now, when such a massive number of people are searching for solutions to new problems.
If you have a great hack you’re using, drop me an email. I will develop another column on hacks and share your great ideas.