It’s a fortunate thing to be able to watch loved ones age into their older years, but that privilege can also bring concerns about their ability to live alone safely and maintain a level of independence they may understandably desire.
Susan DeMarois, director of the California Department of Aging, said that most older adults want to age in place. She said the benefits include a continued sense of independence, living in a familiar space in which a person is comfortable and maintaining community connections.
Everyone deserves to live with dignity and access the highest quality of life that they are capable of and wish to have, said Richard J. Mollot, executive director for New York’s non-profit Long Term Care Community Coalition.
“This doesn’t change with age,” he said via email. “However, the parameters within which these rights can be safely exercised might change, depending on the individual’s needs and wishes.”
According to both DeMarois and Mollot, such parameters might include home modifications that can make a space safer and accommodating for concerns like limited mobility.
“There may also be a need for help with transportation, meals, cleaning or home maintenance and personal care,” DeMarois said, adding that utilizing local services can be one of the most holistic ways of accessing resourses, education and support.
Some of these include government food and nutrition programs, fall-prevention programs that can provide and install low-cost modifications to the home and community adult services that can integrate health and social needs.
“The best advice I can offer to loved ones who want to support an older adult who is living alone is to keep the lines of communication open,” DeMarois said. “Have regular conversations about how the situation is working, if changes need to be made, and what else the older adult needs to feel comfortable and secure at home.”
While these care experts did not endorse any specific products, we utilized the resources they provided to build a list of items that might be helpful for any older person to have at home. Keep reading to find ADA-compliant grab rails, highly rated caretaker alert systems and tablets meant to keep your loved one connected.
Please be aware that many of the below items might require professional installation. HuffPost may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Every item is independently selected by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change. The experts we consulted for this story do not necessarily endorse the products ahead unless otherwise noted.
An Amazon tablet pre-installed with entertainment apps
A tablet or smartphone can be useful for an older person living alone as it could help them order food, supplies and services; connect with family and friends; access entertainment and more, said Richard J. Mollot of the Long Term Care Community Coalition
We think Amazon's HD Fire tablet can be a good pick, considering it comes pre-installed with easy-to-access entertainment apps including Netflix, Amazon and Kindle. It can also be voice controlled using Alexa to make calls to loved ones or control smart home devices without much mobility on the user's part.
A tablet specifically designed for older adults
This other tablet option is designed specifically with older populations in mind. The GrandPad features a user-friendly operation screen, ongoing instructions, easy-to-see icons and 24/7 customer support. Share photos, take calls, send emails, video chat and more without causing frustration.
A bathroom transfer bench
According to the California Department of Aging's fall prevention program
, a transfer bench is useful for some older adults to enter and exit the bathtub safely. We chose this highly rated option in particular because of its positive reviews, tool-free assembly and secure construction that can hold up to 400 pounds. The chair is easily adjusted up to 22.5 inches in order to fit most standard size bathtubs, and has extra-large non-slip feet as well as a non-slip surface.
An ADA-compliant grab bar for the shower
of the California Department of Aging
said that installing grab bars for the shower or in other frequently used areas might be helpful. We landed on this grab bar option not just for its near-perfect five-star-rating, but also because it's compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act
. Available in three sizes and five finish options, including an extra grip coating, this bar can easily be installed on a variety of surfaces and is capable of supporting up to 500 pounds.
A floor-to-ceiling support pole
Another option for adding support throughout the home is this tension-mounted pole. It earned a spot on this list for its double-handled grab bar that swivels 360 degrees and its floor-to-ceiling design that helps to provide support whether someone is sitting or standing. Because this sturdy bar uses tension to stay in place, no drilling or permanent installation is required.
A weekly meal delivery service
DeMarois said the CDA's food and nutrition program
delivers well-balanced pre-made meals to older adults in their home. If your state doesn't offer something similar, Factor is a meal delivery service that offers comforting dietician-created classics like garlic pork tenderloin and herb-crusted chicken. You can choose up to 18 meals a week and explore up to 35 different meal options that arrive ready to heat and enjoy.
A portable support rail for beds
Inspired by the success stories of individuals from the CDA's at-home fall prevention program
, we picked this assistive, adjustable bed rail that easily slips underneath most mattresses and has a larger load-bearing framework than other bed rails that we found. It has a sturdy and resistive construction that can be trusted.
A portable multi-fold ramp
According to DeMarois, ramps installed over areas such as outside steps can be a helpful home modification for older adults to age safely in place. They can make access easier for people using wheelchairs or scooters or with limited mobility.
We chose this multi-fold ramp because it seemed to be one of the most portable and easy-to-install options. It's built with an edge-to-edge traction tape surface, has a sturdy welded design and folds up like a suitcase for easy transport.
A fall-detection pendant system
Our pick: This alert system comes backed with ADT's 24/7 monitoring service that can get a loved one immediately connected to critical care to ensure a rapid response in the event of an emergency — all with a press of a button. The portable mobile device allows for two-way communication with ADT's sensitivity-trained agents as well as GPS location tracking while the wearable and waterproof pendant has automatic fall detection capabilities for added peace of mind. This system does require a monthly service fee, starting at $39.99.