Jim Miller, an advocate for older Americans, writes “Savvy Senior,” a weekly information column syndicated in more than 400 newspapers nationwide. Based in Norman, Oklahoma, he also offers a free senior e-news service at SavvySenior.org.
Do you ever wish you had much longer arms? Then you could reach items on overhead shelves or on the ground without climbing, bending, stooping or straining.
Well, you may know that there are lightweight, easy-to-use devices called reacher grabbers that extend your arms. But there are so many different types, with various materials, lengths and abilities, that it’s not easy to choose the one best for your needs.
Here are some top choices among reacher grabbers that could make your life much easier…
Bargain-priced device for picking up small and lightweight items: Aluminum Reacher with Magnetic Tip by Duro-Med, available in 26- and 32-inch lengths, has a trigger-style handgrip that can be operated with one or two fingers and a serrated jaw that provides a secure grip when lifting objects. It also has a magnet built into the tip for picking up small, lightweight metal objects such as paper clips. And it has a small hook (or horn) that aids in retrieving things such as clothes, shoes or keys. However, because of its lightweight design, it doesn’t work well retrieving heavier items such as canned goods from shelves. $12.
All-purpose: Ettore Grip ‘n Grab can handle most chores. Available in 16-, 34- and 50-inch lengths, it has a soft, comfortable trigger handgrip and a rubber-lined jaw for a firm grip that’s strong enough to lift objects up to five pounds and up to four inches wide, yet sensitive enough to pick up something as small as a dime. The jaw also can swivel 90 degrees to reach things in awkward spaces. $18 to $30.
For people who have trouble gripping: The Medline 31-inch Reacher has a unique handgrip that lets you use all five fingers to close the jaw. $18.
Alternatively, the new HealthSmart GripLoc Sliding Reacher is a 43-inch, two-hand reacher with a “power-slide” handle that makes opening and closing the jaw easier (no hand squeezing required) and a twist-and-click lock that keeps the jaw clenched. $40.
For easy storage: The 32-inch EZ Reacher Collapsible has a slip-joint in the arm that allows it to fold in half. It also has a pistol grip and stainless steel “fingers” with silicone suction-cup tips that do a good job of picking up large and small items. There is a version with a “safety lock” on the handle that lets you lock the jaw onto items without continuously squeezing the handgrip. ($22 to $23, Arcmate.com)
For adjustable lengths: PikStik TelescoPik has a sliding, lockable shaft that adjusts from 30 to 44 inches. It has a pistol grip and a rubber-lined jaw that can hold up to five pounds and can rotate 90 degrees to reach items in awkward spaces. ($30, PikStik.com)
For outdoor use: Unger Nifty Nabber is 36 inches long and can hold up to eight pounds. Its rubber-coated jaw is ideal for outdoor jobs such as picking up trash, broken glass or nails. It also has a built-in magnet and an aluminum handle. $20.
WHERE TO BUY
Reacher grabbers can be purchased at many pharmacies as well as medical-equipment and home-improvement stores, but because they are specialty items, the selection is very limited. Your best option is to buy online through the manufacturer’s website (if available) or through Amazon.com.