The Best Grabber Tools For Elderly Care
Imagine this: your older parent is at home, trying to reach a book on the top shelf or pick up a pen from the floor. All of a sudden, they end up on the floor. These everyday tasks seem simple but can be a real struggle with some serious outcomes. This is where grabber tools come in, offering a practical solution to enhance independence and safety. In occupational therapy (OT) school, it's the very first tool we learn about and it's the piece of adaptive equipment people are most familiar with.
Called a grabber by most people and called a reacher by us OT's we are going to use the terms interchangeably as we explore the world of reacher grabber tools in this article. Our goal? To guide you in choosing the best option for you or your loved ones, providing safety and autonomy in their daily lives.
What you'll get from this article
- What is a reacher or grabber and why are they important?
- What are the key features?
- Safety considerations for reachers.
- Real-life examples of how they impact lives.
Why Reacher Grabber Tools are Necessary in Senior Care
Reacher grabber tools aren't just convenience gadgets— they're essential in senior care. By removing the need to stretch, bend, or strain, these tools prevent injuries and reduce the risk of falls. But more specifically, they're essential after a total hip surgery, when often patients have restrictions on bending at the waist for 3–4 months. Reachers then play a crucial role in preserving dignity and independence, enabling them to perform tasks like putting on pants and picking up shoes without assistance.
Whether it's in the kitchen grabbing a jar, in the garden, picking up tools, or just around the house, grabber tools are versatile allies in multiple environments. This is also the reason there are multiple styles of reachers with a variety of features.
Key Features to Look for in a Grabber Tool
When selecting a grabber tool, consider the following:
- Length and Reach: Choose a length that suits the user's environment and needs. For example, if sitting in a wheelchair daily, you may consider a short or folding one so it can stay easily in the seat without hitting other things.
- Grip Strength: Look for a tool that offers a secure grasp on the item without requiring much hand strength to pull the trigger.
- Weight and Ergonomics: Lightweight and ergonomically designed grabbers reduce fatigue and are easier to handle.
- Durability: Opt for a sturdy tool that can withstand regular use.
- Versatility: The ability to pick up various objects is key, but not all reachers are designed to do all things. For example, if dressing is the goal a reacher with a thin smooth tip is best. But if you are using it to pick up canned goods, a wider grasp point with suction cups would be better.
- Magnetic Tips and Extras: Features like magnetic tips add functionality to pick up small things. Again, think of how this will be used the most and optimize for that task.
Top 3 Grabber Tools for the Elderly in 2024
1. 26" Reacher - The 26" reacher is lightweight and is great for grabbing items that are out of reach. Grabbing a prescription bottle from the medicine cabinet, getting dressed, or picking up small items from the floor is made easy. Using this style reacher is great for those with limited mobility, balance issues, or arthritis and is convenient for at-home use. This not only allows the user to grab items that are either too high or low, but also allows the user to be independent with lower-body dressing such as putting on pants or underwear.
2. 24" Reacher - The 24" reacher is a great tool for grabbing heavier-duty items that are out of reach. Grabbing a canned good, box, or basket is made easier with the wider tip. Using a reacher is perfect for those with limited mobility, balance issues, or arthritis and is convenient for at-home use.
This not only allows the user to grab items that are either too high or low, but it also is made of heavy-duty material, making this reacher more durable than other models.
3. 32" Foldable Reacher - This 32" reacher is foldable for on-the-go use and can conveniently fit in a walker basket, on the side of a wheelchair, or in a large bag. The reacher tip can be rotated a full 90 degrees for vertical or horizontal use and is equipped with a non-slip rubberized jaw to pick up slick items such as a smooth plastic bottle. The 32" reacher is midweight and is great for grabbing items that are out of reach and in various positions since the reacher tip can be rotated. And because it folds up, it's really convenient for at-home and out-of-home use.
Each product's unique features cater to different needs, so the details matter! This is why you should focus on the primary 1 or 2 tasks that this reacher is needed for and choose the style that best meets those demands.
How to Safely Use Grabber Tools
Using grabber tools effectively involves:
- Understanding the tool's mechanics -which helps you use it effectively
- Practicing to develop expertise - because the last thing you want to do is drop something from the reacher that can break!
- Observing safety precautions to prevent accidents - like learning to prop it up instead of having it on the floor as a trip hazard or then simply out of reach!
- Proper storage and maintenance to prolong the tool's life - keep them dry and clean as well as off the floor so they don't pose a trip hazard.
Real-Life Impact: Mr. Smith
Mr. Smith, a 65-year-old man I worked with who had a degenerative disease, was getting down on the floor to pick up clothes and put them in the laundry basket. But because of his condition, it took a lot of effort to get back up from the floor and sometimes he couldn't do it. This meant he had to call for help from the fire department. I recommended a reacher grabber tool that was short enough to fit squarely in his scooter so he could always keep it with him. This meant he not only could use it to pick up the clothes easily, but it was also readily available for other tasks that he would normally risk a fall to complete, like getting and item from an upper cabinet. And every fall prevented is another potential hospital stay avoided!
Selecting the right grabber tool is vital in enhancing the quality of life for the elderly. Consider the individual needs of your loved ones to guarantee the best choice. With the right tool, daily tasks become safer and more accessible, fostering independence and dignity.
For personalized advice and to find the perfect reacher grabber tool, schedule a virtual home assessment with our occupational therapists. You can also use our On Demand Assessment for free at AskSAMIE. We're here to help!