April 13, 2020

As a loving family caregiver, your primary goal is likely to help your senior loved one live comfortably, safely, and independently at home. Depending on your aging loved one’s health and lifestyle, this may mean finding home medical equipment and assistive devices, including walkers, wheelchairs, hospital beds, portable commodes, and other supplies. 

Oftentimes, you may need to get this equipment on a moment’s notice. If you’ve never had to look for medical equipment before, it can be difficult to know where to start your search, and what to look for. There are a lot of factors to keep in mind — from staying within your budget, to finding the equipment that will be the right fit, to getting the supplies your loved one needs quickly and efficiently. 

Here are a few ways to help your senior loved one access home medical equipment and health supplies, when they need them most: 

1.) Talk to a Medical Professional

One of the most straightforward ways to get home health equipment for your aging loved one is to get a prescription from their doctor. 

If your loved one is on Medicare, Part B will generally help cover “medically necessary durable medical equipment (DME),” if a doctor prescribes it for use in the senior’s home. This includes mobility and stability aids like canes, walkers, crutches, patient lifts, and wheelchairs, as well as health aids like blood sugar monitors and test strips, CPAP devices, and oxygen equipment. 

Keep in mind that your loved one’s doctor will need to perform a thorough assessment and issue orders in order for Medicare to help share payments. At the same time, be aware that Medicare will cover different equipment in different ways. You may need to buy certain types of equipment and rent others, for example. 

For more information on how Medicare covers DME, read on at Medicare.gov, here. To start searching for Medicare-approved suppliers, you may click here. 

2.) Look for Local Resources

If you’re looking for medical gear in a pinch, know that you’re certainly not the first family caregiver to need a little bit of help CFS – Finding Medical Equipment and Supplies for Your Senior Loved One and you’re certainly not alone! There are many local resources available to help connect seniors with gently used durable medical equipment, which has been sanitized and refurbished in order to help out people in need. 

For example, around Chicagoland you’ll find many “medical lending closets,” which will loan equipment to seniors for a set period of time. Often, seniors and caregivers can connect with these services through hospitals, local governments, and senior centers. Look for more information through your local government office, your area office on aging, or even your loved one’s house of worship or local senior center. For a list of Chicagoland-area lending closets and resources, you can read on here, courtesy of the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab. 

If you have other loved ones acting as family caregivers, you may also want to reach out to see if they have any equipment to lend. Even if they do not have any supplies on hand, you can always ask your friends and neighbors about their experiences, and see if there are any suppliers, charities, or organizations that they used in the past. 

3.) Buy or Rent

You can find many important pieces of home medical equipment at local retailers, which will let you buy the equipment out of pocket. 

Where to Look

You can search online or in-store. Major retail stores such as Wal-Mart might have medical equipment in stock when you need it; you may also want to start your search at pharmacies, such as CVS, Rite-Aid, Walgreens, or a locally owned drugstore near you. Online, you may be able to find mobility and stability aids through Amazon. There are also online lenders that make medical equipment available, including wheelchairs, walkers, scooters, and other mobility aids. 

Do Your Research

Remember to do some research before making a purchase or rental. As you start to look for medical equipment, consider your loved one’s needs and look for gear that will be suited to their unique situation, based on their wants and needs. Read reviews online, and don’t hesitate to reach out to friends, neighbors, professional caregivers, and others who may be able to offer advice. Similarly, always be sure to check that a rental company or supplier is legitimate and trustworthy before doing business. Read reviews and testimonials online, and look for more information through the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or your state’s consumer protection agencies. 

Have Any More Questions About Supporting Your Senior Loved Ones?

If you have any questions or concerns about taking care of your elderly family members, Companions for Seniors is here and ready to help. We have extensive experience in providing care to elderly adults and their families in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, and we are always happy to share what we know and lend a hand, in whatever way that we can. 

We are here when you need a sympathetic ear, guidance and advice, or a personalized care plan tailor-made for your loved one. Empowering the elderly is our passion, and we’d love to share our experiences and expertise with you. Give us a call at 866-910-9020 or get in touch online whenever you’d like to keep the conversation going.