Equipment and support services are available to support older adults to maintain independence and stay safely at home for as long as possible. Equipment for older people may be funded by district health boards (DHBs), or privately funded. You can also ask your doctor to send a referral to the local DHB for an occupational therapy or physiotherapy assessment. You might be referred to these services if you are having difficulty with mobility or safely completing activities such as showering, making the bed, cleaning or doing the laundry.
You can take some simple steps to improve your strength and balance and prevent falls. Live Stronger for Longer(external link) has become a movement among older people. It is supported by ACC, Health Quality and Safety Commission (HQSC), Ministry of Health, local community health providers, home carers, and community groups across the country. The Live Stronger for Longer website has practical advice and resources, including information on classes and a home safety checklist.
Firstport(external link) is a website that explains the kinds of equipment available to help with everyday life. There are also links to disability support services that can provide specialist knowledge, advice and resources.
There is a wide range of alarms available. Alarms can be professionally monitored, can be linked to family members, can be worn or located in the house and can serve other functions such as medication reminders. There are many providers of these alarms. Cost may be covered by the Disability Allowance(external link) for those who qualify.
Personal tracking systems are available for people with dementia who wander. The tracking watch / pendant emits a pulse using a specific frequency which can be detected by Police / Search and Rescue. The tracking system may not be appropriate for all people with dementia. Contact Alzheimer's New Zealand(external link) for advice and assessment before purchase, as services vary in each region.
There are a number of different sensor system devices available that can be used to monitor safety. These include mats that can be used to alert movement from a bed or chair, bed sensors that can be set to detect movement or prolonged absence from bed, and fall detectors intended for those prone to falls. The device automatically sends a message when the wearer falls, so that help can be sent. Contact a local Disability Information Centre(external link) for information and advice.
Protective clothing options include hip, ankle, knee and limb protectors. Hip protectors are designed to help prevent hip fractures from falls. Lightweight shields are worn with supporting underwear to provide protection for anyone who may be at risk. Limb protectors are protective garments for arms and legs to protect frail older skin from bruising and skin tears. They are made from skin coloured lycra fabric and can be worn uncovered by clothing or under clothing without appearing bulky. Contact a local Disability Information Centre(external link) for information and advice.
People who have difficulty with everyday activities may be able to access equipment and housing / vehicle modifications(external link) through a scheme funded by Ministry of Health.
Individuals with Disabilities(external link) provide grants to purchase mobility scooters, vehicles, vehicle modifications and other mobility equipment that will provide outdoor mobility. It also provides grants to people with communication-related disabilities for the purchase of equipment to help communication. CHECK LINK
If your equipment breaks down, or you no longer have a need for it you should go back to the people who supplied it. Equipment owned by either the Ministry of Health or ACC can be repaired at no cost through Accessable or Enable. Privately owned equipment can also be repaired, but will incur a charge to the owner for repair costs. The most likely options are:
Age Concern provides elder abuse services. Contact Age Concern(external link) for information about elder abuse; how to identify it and where to go for support.