Bubbling enthusiasm masks serious need

Gizmo? Gizmo, according to Wikipedia, is a gadget – especially one whose real name is unknown or forgotten.

Well, Dee Kemp-Towns from Independent Living Services had oodles of gadgets to demonstrate to members of SeniorNet Eastern Bays at their March meeting. Even when she put a name to them, quite a few may probably still remain gizmoes to those for whom forgettory rivals memory.

Take, for example, the thingy designed to take lids of jars and bottles. Blowed if I can remember its name but I do remember Dee’s anecdote about a woman in a retirement home who bought one. It would, Dee assured her, ease off the screw top from a bottle of wine. Instant sale.

Do bottles of bubbles come with screw tops? Maybe not. But if you were fast enough to bottle Dee she’d bubble up and out as soon as the cap was released. She personifies “bubbly personality”.

Enthusiasm for what she demonstrated overflowed -bubbled out -throughout the hour-plus presentation of equipment designed to ease life for people hindered by arthritic conditions, limited movement and problems with balance. Etc. The range of gizmoes wheeled/carried into the seminar room represented a good percentage of what ILS offers – from that bottle opener to a portable handle which fits inside a car door to help people lever themselves off the car seat and onto their feet. (There’s also a cushion gizmo which swivels, helping to make the transition from car seat to hard stand easier.)

Creativity and practicality: wonder what lay behind the design of so much of that range Dee had fun demonstrating.

Chances are that a good many of the products were designed by people either with some form of limitation or those close to them who thought laterally about overcoming such a limitation. Take the portable safety handle which, by suction action, attaches to, say, a shower wall or side of the bath. Once correctly positioned the handle (two styles) provides a strong, secure and safe grabbing point. Portability is the beauty of it.

Much of the equipment could be used openly in public; some of it one would tend to consider rather too intimate to enthuse over. But Dee enthused, just the same, stopping short of demonstration.

Point is, if one has a problem with day-to-day living,there’s probably a gizmo to ease the situation. You just need to ask.

ILS, she said, had begun life as a charitable organisation with strong input from Rotary. It has since become affiliated with a number of organisations including its association with the Ministry of Health. Public demand for the service has seen the organisation grow from its base in Royal Oak to a second outlet in Botany and a new branch is about to open on the North Shore.

Dee began her presentation talking about the design of walking sticks: how, for instance, to ensure a walking stick is the correct height for the person using it. Too high or too low and the stick could do more harm than good. Her demonstration of walkers – next on the list – showed how innovative design extended the features and benefits of the go-to gizmo for people needing a bit of help to stay upright and moving.

And if you’re one of those care-free souls without an ache or pain or itch or some other botheration you could still be interested in some of the gizmoes available from the company. Think how useful it would be to have a folding seat which doubles as a walking stick or, in the event of an emergency (like an earthquake) the eco lite dynamo – a multifunction hand-held dynamo combining LED flash light, mobile phone charger, emergency siren and FM scanner radio.

If nothing else, Dee’s presentation indicated the depth and extent of lateral thinking and outright cleverness which has gone into making life a little easier for so many of us.

As she was leaving at the end of the meeting one member mentioned a forthcoming trip to Royal Oak. Bet she wouldn’t be the only one to head that way.

And by the way, some gadgets and gizmoes got strong spontaneous endorsement from a SeniorNet member as Dee traversed her way from go to whoa.

If your curiosity is tickled have a look at the ISL website:www.ilsnz.org.

Christine Fleming

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