Call 888-741-5172 for Home Instead Senior Care services in your area.
Sharing is Caring:

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.

Find home care near you or your loved one:

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.

Download the Canadian Edition of the Returning Home: Transitional Care Guide

Get helpful tips and articles like these delivered to your email.

Thoughts and stories from others
  1. 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!


  2. 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!


    • 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.


  3. 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.


  4. 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.


  5. 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.


  6. 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.


  7. 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.


Share your thoughts, stories and comments:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *