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Tips on Selecting Home Medical Equipment

Elderly woman prepares to measure her blood pressure at home
Once you're ready to get the equipment, ask your senior loved one's healthcare providers for references for local and trusted medical equipment suppliers.

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April 20, 2012

We'd all like to think that upon discharge from a hospital our senior loved one will be 100 percent better and ready to resume normal activity. But in most cases, more recovery time is usually needed. And in many instances, it might require the purchase of medical equipment for use while your loved one finishes his or her recuperation at home.

Your senior's medical staff and social worker can give you a list of equipment and materials you will need. In addition, they can let you know whether a prescription is required (e.g. home oxygen) and if insurance will generally cover the costs.

Depending on his or her condition, the following are possible medical supplies that your loved one could need at home:

  • Cane
  • Wheelchair
  • Hospital Bed
  • Walker
  • Raised Toilet Seat
  • Shower Chair
  • Grab Bars
  • Colostomy care supplies
  • Oxygen
  • IV equipment
  • Respirator
  • Disposable Gloves
  • Incontinence Briefs

Some of these items, such as walkers, wheelchairs and hospital beds, are reusable and considered “durable medical equipment.” Anyone who has Medicare Part B can get durable medical equipment as long as the equipment is deemed medically necessary.

Some of the more expensive equipment may be rented instead of purchased. In fact Medicare may require rental over purchase. In the instance where you have a choice, the American Elder Care Research Organization in its online article, “When to Rent vs. Buy Home and Durable Medical Equipment” suggests that you consider a few things before you make your decision:

  • Consider the length of time you will need the equipment and compare the rental costs over that time versus the upfront costs for full purchase.
  • If you purchase, determine how easy or difficult it will be to resell the equipment once your senior loved one no longer needs it.
  • Rental agreements often cover maintenance and repair, but a purchase may not come with such a warranty. Consider the technical level of the equipment—those with more electronics might require frequent maintenance which could increase costs.
  • If your senior lives in different locations over the course of the year, think about the costs to transport purchased equipment versus renting materials at each location.

Look at your senior loved one's budget and see if it can support a high upfront cost or if lower monthly payments would be more manageable. If the budget is tight, consider seeking assistance from Veteran's associations, healthcare foundations and other state and local nonprofits.

Once you're ready to get the equipment, ask your senior loved one's healthcare providers for references for local and trusted medical equipment suppliers. You can then work with your vendor to make sure the equipment is delivered and in working order prior to your loved one's discharge from the hospital.

By having everything ready in advance for your loved one's return you will help ensure a more comfortable transition home.

Download the Returning Home guide.

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. August 14, 2017 at 1:29 pm | Posted by Harper Campbell

    As my grandmother is getting older, we are noticing that she is in need of a few medical things so that we will be able to keep her in her house. It's good to know that when it comes to getting the medical equipment that she is in need of that we need to consider the length of time we might need it for to decide whether to rent or buy. Hopefully, she will still be with us for a while and so it might be smart for us to buy so we can just make one payment. http://advancedbiomedicalrepair.com/

    Reply

  2. July 26, 2017 at 6:05 pm | Posted by Gloria Durst

    I agree that you need to consider how long you will have to use medical equipment. It would be smart to consider this because you would know how much you need. In addition to this, you would want to make sure that the seller is qualified and experienced. http://sunrisemedequip.com

    Reply

  3. July 25, 2017 at 10:15 pm | Posted by Gloria Durst

    I agree that you need to look at the length of time you will be using a piece of medical equipment when deciding to rent or buy it. It would seem smart to buy something if you plan to have it long term because it could save you money. My mother, who is in a wheelchair, is coming to live with us, so we'll have to consider the benefits of buying the medical equipment she needs. http://www.mdchoicemedicalsupply.com

    Reply

  4. April 5, 2017 at 10:40 am | Posted by M. Knott

    Thank you for this article on how to select medical equipment and bringing up the rent or buy option. You seem to be in the know regarding medical equipment, is it possible to get a recommendation. We are looking for some more serious equipment and were looking at this company - Family Rentals - Here is their website. They appear to know what they are doing and have the hard to find equipment that we need. Have you heard of them or know this company. We are looking for a more professional opinion. Thank you so much for your help.

    Reply

  5. January 3, 2017 at 1:07 am | Posted by Josh Glas

    Thanks for the article post, I found very good points in this article. These points will be very helpful for selecting the best medical equipment. If you have bought an equipment, then it's maintenance is also necessary. So the points you have mentioned will be in the mind of many patients, those who have read this article.

    Reply

  6. January 3, 2017 at 1:07 am | Posted by Josh Glas

    Thanks for the article post, I found very good points in this article. These points will be very helpful for selecting the best medical equipment. If you have bought an equipment, then it's maintenance is also necessary. So the points you have mentioned will be in the mind of many patients, those who have read this article. Nice Article.

    Reply

    • May 19, 2017 at 8:41 am | Posted by Steeve

      Hi Josh, really liked your point of view of maintenance of medical equipment is important. I recently ordered some of the medical equipment parts from PhiGEM parts and they did justice to the reliability and quality medical equipment parts. and this article helped me a lot choosing the right medical equipment parts.

      Reply

  7. November 18, 2016 at 6:18 am | Posted by medico mart

    Thanks to share with us your information.It was helpful information in this article.. I can see the pros and cons to buying and renting. It would be a good idea to consider each option, and choose the best one for your needs. thanks you.

    Reply

  8. October 21, 2016 at 12:05 pm | Posted by Braden Bills

    It makes sense that you would want to ensure that you get the proper home medical supplies. That way you can ensure that you are comfortable. It would be bad if your state got worse because of lack of proper supplies! http://www.hendersonrx.com/services

    Reply

  9. July 29, 2016 at 12:28 pm | Posted by Jack Mulligan

    It's good to know that some of the durable medical equipment can be covered by medicare. I know I wouldn't be able to afford all the equipment my mother needs without some sort of assistance since she needs so much. At least the durable stuff is worth every cent because it will last longer than any of your other medical supplies! http://www.hpwest.org/services

    Reply

    • August 1, 2016 at 12:13 pm | Posted by Home Instead

      Jack, Thank you for sharing your thoughts. You may also be interested to know that there are some medical insurance policies that cover Durable Medical Equipment as well as some Disposable Medical Equipment. You may find it beneficial to contact your insurance provider (if you have one) and find out what is covered and how it is covered.

      Reply

  10. June 21, 2016 at 2:54 pm | Posted by Lillian Moore

    I like the suggestion to consider the length of time you will need the equipment and compare the rental costs over the upfront costs for full purchase. When you compare the costs, you understand what is needed to go into the recovery process. Be aware of what will be needed to help your senior parent with a quick recovery process.

    Reply

  11. June 17, 2016 at 3:54 pm | Posted by John Carston

    I'll have to confirm with my grandmother's medical staff, but I think your list of medical supplies she may need is a great place to start. I hadn't thought of renting supplies that she may only temporarily need but I'll keep this in mind. Renting rather than purchasing short-term home medical equipment could end up saving quite a bit of money. Thanks for the helpful info. http://jeffsrx.com/homemedicalequipment

    Reply

  12. April 25, 2016 at 4:30 pm | Posted by Bob Lowe

    Thanks for the post. These are some great things to consider. I think it is important that you understand how easy it will be to resell the equipment once you need to upgrade. I like that rental agreements can often cover maintenance costs. I can see the pros and cons to buying and renting. It would be a good idea to consider each option, and choose the best one for your needs. Thanks again.

    Reply

  13. April 14, 2016 at 11:00 pm | Posted by Marie Watson

    Thanks for pointing out that it is important to consider the length of time you will need to use any medical equipment. I would think that how long you use it could determine whether or not you would like to rent the equipment you need. It is also good to know that equipment with more electronics could require more maintenance. I would think it is important to consider every factor before selecting the medical equipment to fit your needs.

    Reply

  14. July 6, 2015 at 3:34 pm | Posted by Lynn Ellett

    Also a Bed side commode. In case patient can't or isn't able to make it to bathroom. Also not all doorways are wheelchair accessable. Might need a small food chopper if they are unable to chew foods. There are a wealth of other things that could be needed. Each case is different.

    Reply

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