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Release: Dec. 13, 2002

Center for Disabilities and Development suggests gifts for elder adults

What gift can you purchase for that special someone who already has everything? When that person is an elderly parent or grandparent, an ideal gift might be an aid for daily living (ADL).

Specialists in the Center for Disabilities and Development at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics say ADLs range from elastic shoelaces that don't need to be tied to large-print remote controls for televisions. Such devices can help a person live a more comfortable and independent life. For some loved ones, there might be daily living activities that are difficult to perform. A simple device or tool can make a world of difference.

Many ADL devices are available in larger department stores. If you cannot find the device you want, or wonder if there is a device available for a specific need, call InfoTech toll-free at (800) 331-3027 or contact them via e-mail at InfoTech is one of the many programs of the Center for Disabilities and Development that provides services and support to persons with disabilities and their families. The CDD is located in Iowa City and is part of the UI Healthcare.

Following is a shopping list of a variety of ADL devices.

Bathing Long-handled sponge or brush for hard-to-reach places
Long-handled pad for applying hand lotion
Dressing Long-handled shoe horn
Button hook for shirts and pants
Zipper pull to grab the zipper tab
Stocking aid to put on socks and hose
Elastic shoe strings to make tying shoes unnecessary
Cooking Cutting board that holds food in place
Knives with T-shaped handles for easier holding
Device to open jars
Special handle to grip awkward containers
One-handed or no-handed electric can opener
Electric vegetable peeler that eliminates painful wrist motion
Material to build up utensil handles to make gripping easier
Hobbies For people with the use of only one hand, a device to hold needlepoint hoops, crochet hooks, knitting needles, small hand tools, playing cards, card shufflers
Balance and endurance Long-handled "reacher" for getting items off high shelves or the floor
High stool with wheels makes it easy for a person to work at a kitchen counter with less fatigue
Mobility Walker with a basket for carrying things, and a flip-down seat for a quick rest
Poor vision Large print labels for dials and controls on household appliances, phones, TV remote controls, thermostats, and furnaces
Simple magnifier for reading newspapers and magazines
Television screen magnifier
Large print playing cards and board games
"Hands free" magnifier, worn around the neck or on a stand, to make delicate crafts or needle work visible
Poor hearing Flashing light device to alert a person to the ringing of a phone, doorbell, alarm clock
Sound amplifier that easily attaches to telephone handset
Headset that enhances the TV sound for its user, and allows overall TV sound level to be set at a reasonable pitch

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at