Little things can mean a lot |

Little things can mean a lot

• Jar and bottle opener. Here’s a big bang for small bucks – a device that allows people to open even the tightest jars and toughest water bottles. Grocery, hardware and kitchen stores carry a range of openers beginning at about $7 up to a $50 Black & Decker model. Look at the simple openers first, such as a Swing-A-Way jar opener #711 at $10.95.

• Cell phones. Even young, concert-deafened Boomers may find cell phones hard to hear. But different brands have different volume choices. When I last listened for this feature, Nokia selections offered the highest volume.

Cell phones also come with special features for people with serious vision or hearing issues. Go to, put accessible cell phones into the search box and you will find basic info plus more useful links.

Cell phones are also an excellent choice in a caretaker situation, when the caretaker is out doing the necessary errands and the one who needs special care is at home. A cell phone will provide a little lifeline between the two, even if it is used for nothing more than a reminder to bring home some milk.

• Driving glasses. Look for daytime driving glasses with polarized lenses that have a yellow or amber tint. Such glasses reduce glare and allow people to see much more detail in the environment. Look for these glasses in vision stores and at your eye doc. One brand name: Fitovers. These go on over prescription glasses, Such glasses look a little dorky, but the dorkiness is well worth the improvement in vision.

• Handy-dandy marriage savers. OK, that’s not the real product name, but if you and your mate are not volume compatible when it comes to TV, the one who likes it LOUD can listen that way with wireless stereo earphones. Acoustic Research makes wireless earphones that get excellent reviews on About $45 dollars to save your marriage from acoustical arguments. (We’ll save the temperature arguments for another day.)

• Big print products. Books and numeric telephone pads come in big print versions, but did you notice you can play with your computer to make the screen easier to read by adjusting the contrast and the font? Go to the control panel and from there, click on the accessibility and font options.

• Bath products: Look for soap on a rope. Hard to drop when it’s around your neck. Also check out bathtub safety mats that go the full length of the tub. Long mats can be found at an online catalog of products for older adults,

• Dressing products: Hard to bend over? Then use extra-long shoehorns to wedge into your loafers. There are also devices that will pull on your socks. Find the shoehorns and sock pullers at local drugstores.

• Pickup sticks: Look in drugstores for devices that will pick up dropped objects without your having to bend over. Basically, these devices are a little workable claw on the end of a metal stick. They may have a magnet to pick up dropped coins. These sticks can also come in handy for anyone of any age who has had leg and hip surgery. One product name: Featherlite.

Unlike many products that make big promises, all these devices work. Now if only my daughter could find a man like that.


The author of four non-fiction books, gerontologist Mel Walsh is the host of Second Wind (The Good Life After 50) on KVMR-FM, 89.5, Wednesdays, 1 p.m. Write Mel at or at 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, CA 95945. More info at

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