BROOKLIN, Maine — Doorbells and smoke detectors with strobe lights that flash when they’re activated. No-tie elastic shoelaces. A playing-card holder. A seat cushion atop a spring that helps people rise from chairs.
They’re all part of a display of tools designed to help the elderly, disabled or simply overburdened remain independent that’s making its way around the Blue Hill Peninsula.
Available at Friend Memorial Public Library this month, the Traveling Tool Table assembled as part of Healthy Peninsula’s Age-Friendly Coastal Communities initiative features about 50 items that can help those afflicted by age or infirmity, said Anne Schroth, program coordinator for Healthy Peninsula, which serves Blue Hill, Brooklin, Brooksville, Castine, Deer Isle, Penobscot, Sedwick, Stonington and Surry.
Funded by an AARP Community Challenge grant, the Traveling Tool Table can help the elderly, young parents looking to do things single-handedly, caregivers and middle-aged folks who wish to simplify their lives, Schroth said.
“There are some interesting things, a lot of interesting ideas,” Schroth said. “There are things like the telephone with pictures so that people don’t have to dial numbers or the hair dryer stand for people who would have difficulty holding a hair dryer themselves. There are so many cool things that I don’t know if there is any one that really stands out.”
Also among the mix are talking alarm clocks that also feature the day and date and pill dispensers with audible alarms to remind people when they need to take their medications.
Some of the items are on the tool table at the library; others are simply noted on a list, along with retail prices and vendors to help people find what they need. The sign-in list for the display also encourages visitors to suggest other items they think will help others.
At least a dozen people have looked over the table since it went on display at the library Tuesday, said Stephanie Atwater, the library’s director, who was impressed with the diversity of items.
“People have such different needs, and what would be useless to one person will be just perfect for someone else,” she said. “I think what impresses me is that I could instantly think of a number of things that would be pretty obvious, but there’s so many things that I never would have thought of. I mean, something that helps you hold a nail when you’re hammering it.”
The display will move to the Witherle Memorial Library in Castine next month. Healthy Peninsula officials hope the display will move on to other area libraries over the next several months.
The Friend library will also host a free public event at 7 p.m. Wednesday that will allow attendees to discuss the tools with experts. Caleb Jones, an occupational therapist at Alpha One Center for Independent Living, and Susan Corbett, founder and director of the National Digital Equity Center in Machias, will be the featured speakers.