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  • Cameron Oglesby

How millions of seniors undermine their own independence

Updated: Nov 16, 2021

Three low-cost, low-tech devices could help some 5 million seniors live independently at home years longer – if only they were willing to use them.

Simple, everyday equipment like bathroom grab bars, shower or tub seats, and raised toilets or toilet seats could help elders with mobility problems bathe and toilet, stand up and sit down, and balance more independently, safely, and easily. But according to a new UC San Francisco study of about 2,600 Medicare recipients, 42 percent just don’t want to. Projected nationally, that would be 5 million Americans.

It all boils down to self-image and aesthetics.

“Many people find equipment stigmatizing,” says Kenneth Lam, MD, of the UCSF Division of Geriatrics, the study’s lead author. Even when hidden away in a bathroom, he adds, “many people find equipment stigmatizing. Aesthetics are unappealing, and some may fear being perceived as old and vulnerable; older adults describe equipment as meant for ‘someone older.’”

This explains why 50 percent of younger elders (ages 65 to 74) shun the grab bars and bath seats, while 81 percent of seniors 85 or older had no problem using them – particularly “those who already owned a walker…since they had already overcome stigma around assisted device use.”

That’s why it’s so important to understand not just what a senior needs, but also what he or she wants, particularly when the two conflict.

At Senior Insights, we never forget this. We look at each client as a person, not just a collection of needs.

That’s why our initial three-part holistic needs assessment gives weight to the client’s own wants, preferences, values and priorities not just to physical and mental health, functional and social abilities, cognitive health, and home safety.

And why the Registered Nurses who conduct our monthly assessments see and treat you as much more than a set of vital signs.

To learn more about living your life on your own terms, please contact us .

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