Long reachers have their place, but a longer arm doesn’t necessarily mean more mobility. A longer arm can also be clunkier and more difficult to maneuver depending on your loved one's situation. This 19-inch grabber is ideally sized for common situations that require some extra assistance. It’s an especially great option for wheelchair users.
Practical features include an ergonomic handle, a soft trigger grip, and a rubberized jaw that rotates 90 degrees. A finger-like tip allows small items to be picked up easily, and a heavy-duty connection cable ensures years of dependable use. RMS offers a limited lifetime warranty, and the price is affordable; while some seniors might prefer a longer reacher, this is one of the best short-reach products on the market.
While the Ettore Grip’n Grab is somewhat light on features, it’s a well-made, easy-to-use product at an affordable price. It’s available with either a 32-inch or 50-inch arm, and both models feature an articulation head that turns 90 degrees. The rubber tips on the jaws allow for precision control, and the aluminum construction is both lightweight and durable for daily use.
Though this tool offers more reach than others we reviewed, the Grip’n Grab’s long aluminum frame is more likely to bend (and, eventually, break) than heavy-duty models. Also, while the grip is comfortable, it’s not quite as soft as some of the other options on this list, so frequent use could lead to comfort issues if the grabber needs to be used frequently or with heavier items.
The main appeal of this reacher is its foldable design, which allows for easy storage. The 32-inch arm is long enough for most applications, and the aluminum alloy construction is dependable enough for light use (though we don't recommend using it to lift heavier objects).
The textured tip provides accuracy when grabbing small objects, and the full-hand grip is an improvement over a straight trigger grip, since you’ll use your entire hand to squeeze the claw closed. However, the handle is bare plastic, and squeezing it closed requires decent grip strength so it could be uncomfortable for some users.
Rather than a claw-like hand, this grabber has a thin head that fits easily into small spaces. The trade off is that it’s not quite as intuitive as some other reachers, but with a bit of practice, it’s no less capable. It features a magnetic tip and a post for hooking items. A clip towards the top of the arm attaches to bed rails, walkers, canes, and wheelchair arms for easy storage.
While aesthetics aren’t a major consideration with reachers, this product probably won’t win any fashion awards; the bright yellow plastic and exposed aluminum aren’t exactly elegant design choices. Still, the workmanship is solid, and while the materials are heavy duty, the grabber itself is fairly lightweight and easy to maneuver.
This reacher might qualify as a niche product, as it’s specifically designed to pick up smooth objects; the jaws have two secure rubber suctioning tips, which attach to lightbulbs, glasses, and other objects without damaging their surfaces. The jaws close tight enough to pick up smaller items, but the suction cups don’t entirely replace the need for larger multi-purpose jaws.
With that said, this is an ideal choice for handling small, more delicate objects, and the 32-inch arm provides plenty of reach without adding too much weight. The lightweight corrosion-resistant aluminum helps to reduce arm fatigue during regular use, and Vive offers a lifetime money-back guarantee.
The TACKLIFE grabber tool features a unique angled arm that rotates up to 180 degrees, making it possible to grab items from hard to reach or tight spaces. The head of the grabber rotates 90 degrees as well, making this a highly flexible grabber for whatever your loved one's needs are. The tool can pick up items as heavy as 12 pounds, but still retains a lightweight arm for daily usage.
We also like the soft ergonomic handle for a comfortable and sure grip. The claw-like opening widens to 4 inches, so they can pick up a variety of items around the house.
Unger’s Nifty Nabber seems designed primarily for outdoor use, given that it has an ultra-strong gripper and quite a bit of exposed metal surrounding its large rubber jaws. That doesn’t mean that it’s less effective for indoor use, but it is slightly less nimble than some other models. This tool also comes in two length options and is one of the longer models we reviewed.
A built-in magnet towards the tip is useful for picking up small metal items, and the grabber’s powerful enough to lift larger objects. The one significant drawback is the reversed grip, which isn’t quite as comfortable or easy to use as a more traditional trigger-style grip.
Reaching assist tools certainly aren’t a one-size-fits-all purchase. You’ll need to consider your senior’s mobility challenges carefully, along with the unique features and specifications of the product in question. Here are a few factors to keep in mind.
Start by identifying the user’s needs and challenges. Is the user having trouble reaching items in the back of the pantry, or do they need to pick up items off the floor? Do they use a wheelchair? Will they need to keep the grabber near them at all times?
Questions like this will help guide you to a particular model. They suggest features like reach length, gripper texture, and maximum weight for the items that need to be picked up. When in doubt, start with a particular task and a tape measure. Find the distance between the upper shelf and the user’s maximum reach, for instance, and you’ll have a good idea of what size grabber to look for.
The goal is to allow your loved ones to pursue the activities they enjoy with limited assistance. There’s even evidence that the use of low-cost assistive technology, like a grabber, can improve emotional security and safety in older adults!
Include the user in the purchase decision as much as possible. In one study, occupational therapists looked at the top reasons their patients weren’t using adaptive equipment following hip replacement surgery. They found that, too often, the user of the equipment isn’t included in making the choice. Even when surgery isn’t involved, the implication is that people are more likely to use assistive equipment (including a grabber) when they pick it out for themselves. An article like this one is a great place to start. Caretakers and seniors should discuss the options listed above to make the best decision for their particular needs.
Look for ergonomic grips designed for maximum comfort. People are more likely to use their grabbers when they’re comfortable, of course. Look for handles that are padded, coated with an anti-slip covering, and—perhaps most importantly—sized for the user’s hand.
For users with reduced grip strength, be sure to look for models with lightweight, full-hand triggers. A two-finger trigger is fine for lots of people who use grabbers, but for those who struggle with grip strength, a full-hand trigger will be easier and more comfortable.
Also consider what items your loved one needs to pick up on a regular basis. Those who have trouble with keys, coins, or other metal objects would benefit from a tool with magnetic tips fo easy lifting. Other tools we reviewed have suctioned tips for handling delicate glass items (perfect for around the house), or textured grips for sturdier items.