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Guide to Ergonomics for the Aging

It’s no secret that people today are living longer today than they did just a few short years ago. Advancement in medical technology has brought the longevity to 85 years of age. As you might conclude, octogenarians, and some younger seniors, need ergonomic products and living environments.

Ergonomics is the science of designing machines and environment to prevent injury and preserve mobility. “It teaches people how to avoid work habits which create excessive amounts of static work and how to reduce the amount of unnecessary muscular force they are applying to their bodies.”

Seniors have a variety of special needs that come about through poor health, illness, arthritis, convalescence and other medical conditions. While some older seniors remain in good health, many others need assistance to continue to live independent lives.

As people age, they lose the ability to fight off illness, they develop diseases like arthritis, hearing, and vision loss. Surgery and hip implantation may leave seniors needing added assistance in walking or help in standing from a sitting position. Some seniors lose all mobility.

Fortunately, today there are products that help seniors maintain their independent living style. The most interesting product I learned about is a computer mouse that compensates for shaky hand movements. It sells for $99 dollars but to a senior whose main connection to the outside world is through the Internet, it’s a worthy investment.

A common piece of furniture we hear about for seniors is the lift chair. This chair tilts forward to assist the person to stand. A smaller and less expensive lift comes in a cushion that lifts the person to a position where he can stand on his own. The portable cushion costs about a third of a full lift chair.

Another lift chair is designed for the bath. In addition, bath stools and bars are designed to assist the senior in standing from a sitting position.

Power chairs and scooters are for people who can no longer walk. Power chairs are mobile and have a very tight turning radius of 18″ making it easy for seniors to move from room to room. It travels well over uneven surfaces.

Scooters require a larger turning radius of 32″ and travel best over even surfaces. A good application for a scooter might be personal shopping or traveling short distances outside the home. Lower end walk assist products are walkers and walking canes.

People who own power chairs and scooters also require a wheelchair ramp.

Other products that might be needed by seniors are special telephones with flashing lights for the hard of hearing and TTY phones for deafness.

Large type is available for seniors whose vision is impaired. Software is available for computers to enlarge the type and books are now available in large print format.

Medicare will often pay for power chairs and other needed appliances with a letter from your physician in a “Medical Necessity” format. Ergonomics create the environment that seniors require for continued independent living.




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