COVID-19 Click Here for VNSNY’s COVID-19 Response

Useful Medical Equipment for Keeping Someone Safe

Facing the loss of mobility and privacy is a challenge. Your dad might be just fine when you offer a helping hand as he gets up from his easy chair, but he might be considerably less gracious about assistance in the bathroom, or when you’re out in public. Look for tools that can help with safety and mobility, and make sure they are used, and used correctly.

Tools for Independence

If your parent is reluctant to accept assistance from you or another caregiver but is willing to use medical equipment to maintain independence, consider assistive devices to help with bathing, toileting, and mobility.


  • Tub seats or shower chairs fit in the tub and allow those with decreased balance or endurance to continue to take baths in their bathrooms. Look for one that has back support.
  • Tub benches straddle the side of the tub—you sit down outside the tub and lift your legs over the tub wall so you don’t have to step over it.
  • Consider installing a hand-held shower, which will make bathing more convenient.


  • Raised toilet seats lift the height of a toilet’s sitting surface, which makes it easier to transfer oneself. For safety, purchase one that has the ability to clamp and tighten onto the toilet. Some models are simply placed over the toilet, which can result in shifting and possibly a fall.
  • Toilets with an oblong shape aren’t compatible with raised toilet seats. In this case, a toilet safety frame is a better choice.


  • Rollators are similar to walkers but instead of two wheels and two feet, they have four wheels. The additional wheels provide more speed and freedom, but they require more coordination and balance to use safely. Rollator brakes wear out fairly rapidly, so try to order one from a vendor who offers free repairs.
  • Walkers are better for people who only need to go short distances, who have difficulty with balance, or who would need assistance controlling a rollator.

Overcoming Reluctance

By refusing to use the tools they need, some people put themselves at greater risk for falls and accidents. What is the best way to go about encouraging a family member to use an assistive device?


Often, these tools can bring about feelings of inadequacy. They make people acknowledge their limitations. It’s important that the person you are caring for knows that you understand and respect their feelings about loss and having to depend on something.


Telling someone they have to do something is not an effective way to get them on board. A good technique that professionals use is called motivational interviewing. For example, you might start by asking your dad to tell you about his day. Is he tired from running an errand? How far did he go? Was he without his walker at the time? When was the last time he fell? Where was he? Talking it through gives people more of a sense of control in the decision-making process.

Ensure fit

Your parent may resist using a device because it isn’t comfortable or easy to use. It’s important to make sure that the device is appropriate. It should be prescribed specifically for the person using it—don’t borrow something as important as a walker. And it is critical that the user and the caregiver both are taught how to use it. That may mean, in some cases, a physical therapy evaluation and some treatment.

If your loved one is still resistant to using a medical device, talk to a health care professional. Having a conversation with your physician is imperative, especially if your family member’s safety is at stake.

Related Content

Trip and Fall Prevention

Trip and Fall Prevention

Tips and videos to help make your home safer and prevent accidents. Read More
Safety-Proofing Your Parents’ Bathroom

Safety-Proofing Your Parents’ Bathroom

Simple solutions to keep your parents safe from trips and falls in the bathroom. Read More
Physical Therapy Combats a Patient’s Fear

Physical Therapy Combats a Patient’s Fear

Through medical knowledge and compassion, one VNSNY physical therapist helped a patient rebuild confidence—and identified a secondary cause of her weakness. Read More