One of the most significant concerns for seniors and those who care for them is injury due to falling. There are many ways to avoid falls both in and out of the home, including using a cane or a walker, relocating to a home without stairs, and wearing sensible and safe shoes.
Being aware of the ground or flooring underneath your feet as you age – whether you’re on soft grass or slippery marble – is essential to avoid accidental slips or trips, which, for those 75 and older are responsible for 70 percent of unintentional deaths.
Medicare Coverage for Bathroom Safety Devices
Medicare Part B covers some Durable Medical Equipment (DME), but mostly those that increase stability while walking, such as canes, walkers, and other support items. Commode chairs are usually covered as well. However, for most everything else, you would need additional insurance coverage to be reimbursed for the costs.
The insured pays 20% of the approved amount as determined by Medicare. The Part B deductible applies to all items. There are a few different ways that Medicare will pay for DME, including renting or buying the equipment. In some situations, it is up to the patient to decide whether to purchase an item or rent it instead.
Your doctor and suppliers must be enrolled in Medicare as providers. There are stringent guidelines regarding this point, both for doctors and enrollees. Be sure to check with both your physician and your resource if they are both enrolled and participating in Medicare. Otherwise, the suppliers can charge you whatever they want for items.
A Medigap plan may be a good option for additional insurance to help pay for some of the other items that are not covered by Medicare Part B.
Medicare Advantage Plans can also provide coverage for DME.
Are There Other Options for Paying for Equipment?
Veterans who are prescribed items to make their homes more secure may get coverage from the Department of Veterans Affairs for shower chairs or grab bars.
There are State Assistance Programs that may be able to help with the cost of Durable Medical Equipment (DME).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that most injuries – 81.1% – among older people are the result of falls. Securing the homes of seniors to avoid falls can keep them from harm.
Family members and caregivers need to understand and, in turn, explain carefully to their loved ones and charges the way to use the safety equipment and, more importantly, the reasons they are necessary.
Seniors can be reluctant to accept their limitations, but by giving them the information they need, those who are responsible for their well-being will be doing them a favor, and saving themselves a lot of stress and anxiety as well.
Of all the places that can be a problem for older people, the most dangerous may be the bathroom. Taking the time to secure the slippery and wet environment in the home of seniors is the best prevention for potentially life-threatening falls.
What Equipment Is Necessary for Bathroom Safety?
According to Medicare.gov, Durable Medical Equipment (DME) must be prescribed by a doctor and meet the following criteria:
- It must be able to withstand repeated use
- It must be necessary for a medical reason
- It cannot be useful to someone who is not ill or injured
- It must of use in the home
Some of the essentials for bathroom safety include:
- Grab bars
- Transfer benches
- Non-slip mats for the tub, shower and bathroom floor
- Shower chairs
- Raised toilet seats
- Toilet safety frames
- Handheld showerheads
- Shampoo basins (for caregivers to use)
- Portable commodes
- Walk-in bathtubs
- Emergency alert system
- Roll-in shower
- Soap and shampoo dispensers
- Adjustable height shower heads
Some of these items are simple to add to an existing bathroom, and some require extensive remodeling and expense.
Additional items that can make the bathroom a safer place for seniors include:
- Secure shower curtain rods
- Easily reachable medicine cabinets or storage
- Secure storage for medication
Avoid these items in the bathroom:
- Flimsy bath mats
- Exposed light bulbs
- Electrical appliances such as hair dryers, clocks, toothbrushes
- Hard to reach toilet paper dispensers
- Large shampoo or soap bottles that are difficult to grasp
- Unregulated water temperature, which can lead to burns
- Door locks – a serious problem if there is a fall
Call one of our agents at the number above to get help covering your out of pocket costs for durable medical equipment. Or, you can compare rates online now using our form here.