safety_poleThis is a personal testimony for a product that is simple to install, is relatively inexpensive, and has worked well for members of my own family: the security pole. As my father-in-law, a man of large stature, lost the ability to independently transfer from the bed to his wheelchair, it became very difficult for my small-statured mother-in-law to safely assist him. After a couple of falls and numerous near misses, my husband and I searched for something to reduce risk and maximize independence. The tension-mounted security pole has been just the ticket. This product comes either as a straight pole or a pole with curved grab handles (the kind we chose) and can easily be found from a number of providers by entering ‘security pole’ in your search engine.

My husband, an engineer, was initially quite dubious that a device that isn’t bolted into place would be steady enough to handle being pulled on without shifting. Much to his surprise, the pole has exceeded his expectations. My father-in-law has been able to use his upper body strength to successfully and safely transfer from the wheelchair to the bed, and my mother-in-law is no longer risking injuring herself while trying to help her husband. The pole hasn’t budged a bit.

This weekend we are installing a couple of the security poles in my mother’s house. She lives alone but occasionally has difficulty getting up from sitting on her couch and in her bathroom. Since the security pole stays in place without having to be physically fastened, she will be able to experiment with where to place it in relation to her couch to find the arrangement that works best for her. I can envision a security pole being useful for folks who experience momentary drops in their blood pressure (orthostatic hypotension) when they go from sitting to standing. Having a security pole handy to grasp for a few seconds could help prevent a serious fall.

I’ve added security poles to the list of frequently recommended products for Elder Law of East Tennessee clients. I encourage readers to take a few moments to share their own experience with using a security pole or other devices that have been successful in improving safety and maintaining independence. You never know when your own story will be the one that makes a big difference to another person.