Bette Davis famously said, “Getting old ain’t for sissies.” Surely, she had something there. With age comes the inconvenient decline of body and mind: things just don’t work the way they used to. The challenge of maintaining a healthy, happy quality of life intensifies with each passing year. In Davis’ lifetime, however, there was nowhere near the wide range of assistive devices and adaptive clothing available today, many with a nod to technology, to make growing older a little more graceful.


Hearing Loss Later in Life a Common Occurrence

Whether or not you got to Woodstock, and followed up with every Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and Ozzy Osbourne concert for the next decade, it’s a fact of life that hearing diminishes as we age. Why? As we get older, degeneration within the inner ear and along the nerve pathways to the brain can impact hearing. Most of the time, these changes are related to the health of the tiny hair cells in the inner ear that help us hear. In this respect, hearing loss in irreversible. Age-related hearing loss (ARHL) often results in the need for amplification, with an estimated 2 million seniors wearing hearing aids.

With battery power always an issue as hearing aids need daily recharging, companies like EarCentric, Phonak, Octicon, Signia and others launched rechargeable hearing aids into the marketplace. The ease of rechargeable batteries and ongoing improvements to increased battery life are becoming so attractive to consumers that industry insiders expect they soon will replace disposable batteries.


Diminishing Eyesight Due to Age-Related Conditions

Diminishing eyesight due to glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, and other eye diseases associated with aging make performing ordinary tasks such as reading books, periodicals, recipes, instructions, and mail a real issue. If we craft or engage in other hobbies including carving, crocheting, or scrapbooking, for example, seeing exactly what we are doing is mandatory!

Also, as we age, weakening eye muscles and decreased pupil size cause less light to enter the eye. The number of rods in the eye can decrease, making it more difficult to see in low light.

Where some companies offer either a magnifier or a light, coming to the rescue is firstStreet’s Lighted Full Page Reading Magnifier. Hands-free and featuring 12 high-powered LED lights, it also has an adjustable gooseneck for flexible, spot-on task lighting.


With Age Comes Increased Mobility Challenges

Urban Poling’s Activator Poles have been recommended by leading surgeons, physicians and therapists, according to the company’s website. The mobility poles were designed by an occupational therapist and gerontologist specifically for seniors who are rehabilitating or who are living with long-term conditions that affect their mobility. The patented design is said to enhance strengthening, stability, and off-loading.

When getting out of a car becomes a challenge, the Auto Cane by Able Life effortlessly attaches to the inside of a car, providing ease of egress. Other assistive devices by Able Life include a floor-to-ceiling grab bar that provides support for getting in and out of the tub.


Adaptive Clothing Combines Ease with Fashion

As we age, diseases, disabilities, and conditions including osteoporosis, arthritis, edema, and diabetes can limit mobility and dexterity. Open-back functionality in tops, pants with elastic waists and/or side-open designs, magnetic snap or Velcro fasteners in place of buttons, and laceless footwear all add up to ease of dressing and other activities of daily living (ADLs).

Adaptive clothing also makes it easier for caregivers and family members to care for a client or loved one. Many popular brands have launched adaptive clothing lines for all ages, including seniors. Here are a few worth investigating:

  • Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive
  • BILLY Footwear
  • Adaptive Seven7
  • Zappos Adaptive
  • Aerie Slick Chicks Undergarments
  • Kohl’s Adaptive
  • JCPenney Adaptive


Hand Protectors and Arm Protectors for Thinning Skin

As we age, our skin thins and becomes more fragile. Bruises and abrasions are more prevalent. Want to ease the friction to hands sometimes caused by rolling your own wheelchair or pushing a walker? Unisex hand protectors and arm protectors from Buck & Buck are made of soft polar fleece that is easily washable and durable.

Reversible Vest with Magnetic Closures

No one says growing older has to mean arrivederci to style! This Joe & Bella reversible vest for cooler weather has a magnetic closure, rather than zippers that can stick or buttons that can be tricky and time-consuming.

Adult Bib Scarf as Fashion Accessory

People say the only place bibs should be seen are on babies and in seafood restaurants (pass the drawn butter, please). The washable Adult Bib Scarf by Designed to Dine looks the way it sounds: like a fashion accessory that complements your wardrobe, rather than covering it up in an obvious way, embarrassing the wearer. A variety of colors and prints do a great job in concealing spills and spots as well.


Maintaining Functional Independence

The rapidly expanding market of assistive devices and adaptive clothing not only will make growing older a little more graceful, but also preserve a senior’s functional abilities and support the performance of activities of daily living (ADLs). With their preference for an independent lifestyle, the growing geriatric population will drive demand over the coming years.


“Assistive Devices Help Seniors Maintain Functional Health,” written by Beth Herman, Amada blog contributor.