20 Things That Will Make Life Easier For People With Disabilities
1. Invacare Side to Side Rotating Hospital Bed. I am using a hospital bed which happens to be the same kind that Steve Reeves used after his tragic accident. It has the ability to turn my body from side to side altering throughout the night and so greatly lessens the probability that I will develop bedsores. I was actually hospitalized for sores that I had developed on my bottom and I never want to go through that again. After doing tons of research on the Internet my daughter and I finally found this bed and it is wonderful. Since I am not able to turn over by myself due to MS paralysis and I have to sleep on my back and so this bed is a lifesaver and I am so thankful that I found it.
2. e-books I read a lot and before e-books I had a hard time holding books properly and dropped them often. Because I have to spend quite a lot of time in bed because of MS and read tons of book I am so thankful for this wildly successful adventure.
3. e- reader There are so many kinds of readers on the market. I am using the Samsung Galaxy Tab. It’s just the right size for me to read in bed and has Internet features and lots of apps so if I need to look up something while I’m reading, the information is right there in my hands. I particularly like the reader from Samsung the but I can also have the Internet at my fingertips at the same time. So, I can go onto Amazon or another book site, find a book I want and within minutes I have it right there to read. All from the comfort of my Invacare hospital bed! Isn’t that cool? No more asking anybody to go to the library for me, pick up a book that I have dropped or cursing loud and clear because of another fine mess of gotten myself into.
4. Mouth Moisturizer. For anyone that has trouble with dry mouth syndrome which can often times be caused as a side effect of medications this is a wonderful product. The brand I use is Biotene oral balance Dry mouth Moisturizing Gel. I now use it every night before I go to sleep because this side effect is just dreadful. I used to wake up several times at night and when I woke up in the morning with my mouth actually glued shut from lack of saliva. It is so terribly uncomfortable. And so now I don’t have that problem anymore and it’s just one more thing that has a solution.
5. Reachers. These gadgets are so simple that even a child can operate them but what an awesome difference in life it can make for someone who needs an extension of their arms! It is so frustrating not to be able to reach something that you need or that you want to get to and there is just no way. Your body is just not cooperating and so to have several reachers within reach around the house is a necessity in order to live more freely. You can take them outside, to the grocery store where you can reach something on a higher shelf and even pick up spare change you have dropped on the floor. There are many different kinds of reachers . A search online will give you a great idea of how many styles there really are. Some of them even have lights on the and then or even magnets. Some of them fold in half and you get them in different lengths and even different colors. They are such a versatile tool
6. Dragon naturally speaking voice recognition program. Since I am no longer able to type, thanks to this awful disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and I am paralyzed on my left side I am using the voice recognition program for my computer every day when I write. It has saved me from untold angst, frustration, pain and exhaustion. Having MS makes everything exhausting so something as wonderful as this program makes it fun again to do what I love. Of course, it makes some serious errors and sometimes refuses to curse for me. But what the hell, it’s a small price to pay.
7. In Home Water Cooler. For many of us with varying kinds of disability even getting a drink of water can be difficult and disturbing. Having a water fountain with nice cool water that you can get to by yourself without having to ask anybody, except maybe for class to put it, is a good thing. Anything that we can do ourselves and not have to ask for help doing it is keeping a little more of our independence.
8. Ex N Flex These machines are really great for people who need to exercise their arms and legs and they are recommended by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. I use them every day and without them I would be at a loss. They have my highest kudos and their customer service is bar none. Since I am paralyzed on my left side I found it to be the best possible way for me to exercise. All I have to do is strap in my arms or legs, turn on the TV for an hour and Bim Bam I’ve done it!
9. 12 Inch Tweezers. I had no idea that you could buy tweezers in such large sizes until I run across them on the hardware website. These work really well when you drop something on the floor or something is too far away for you to reach. Since they have rubberized tips you can even use them to pick up a piece of paper. I have to find that sometimes it’s hard to pick up paper with our reacher and sometimes the 12 inch tweezers will actually work better.
10. Handi- ride transportation system for people with disabilities This wonderful program is based in Dallas, Texas and I don’t know what I would do without it. Check out your local area to see what kinds of transportation is available for you if you need it. With my wheelchair I am no longer able to get in and out of our car and these awesome handicapped accessible buses just lift me up or down the ramp and we’re off on another exciting adventure. Without it I would be stuck between a rock and a hard place. Because of this awesome system I do not have to rely on anyone else to get where I need to and that has freed up a big chunk of worries. No longer do I have to ask anyone else to go someplace or do something that I want to do.
11 Transit Fare Coupons. I happen to live in an area, Dallas, Texas, where we have a transit system for disabled people. To make it a lot easier for me to pay my transit fare I use the transit fare coupons which are a lot easier to handle than fumbling for cash or change. They come in packets of 10 and are easily managed. Because I have MS I am able to get the coupons free from the National MS Society. Plus if someone is writing with me as an aide or companion they can ride free. Look into your government and private agencies to see what help is available for you for transportation purposes. There may be other disease agencies that will fund transportation disabilities. Definitely worth looking into. For me, I don’t know what I would do without this help.
12. Certified home health care aide. Oh, happy day when my present home health care aide showed up at my door. It’s been a long and bumpy road to try and find someone who is kind, professional, and honest. I found her and I love her. If you need help starting the process contact your state’s Department of Aging and Disability Services.
13. Life Alert Of all the good things that I’ve done to help myself, this is probably the greatest. It has saved me from countless injuries and the countless times that I have fallen I have had five or six gorgeous fireman pick me and put me back where I belong. This is the number one program you need to get if you find yourself in danger. Believe me you will thank me. It’s a wonderful system and could possibly save your life. There truly have been times when I have fallen and not been able to get up And it is a helpless and dangerous place to be.
14. Catheters Another stinky piece of business but what can you do. The catheter was invented by Benjamin Franklin when his brother was having trouble in the nether regions so we can thank our wonderful forefather for helping out. He would be proud to know what his grand invention has done for mankind. And I can attest to that fact. Having bladder control problems is one of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. I was in a state of denial for a long time before I finally saw fit to start using a catheter. If I had started doing it sooner I would’ve saved myself from so much distress, embarrassment and tears. If you carry a 6 inch catheter around in your purse or wallet or wherever, you can have them handy to make sure that your bladder is emptied whenever you go to the bathroom. It is such a terribly uncomfortable thing to have to deal with and this will really help you.
15. Audio Books This is another wonderful solution for people who love to read and could no longer hold books, who cannot see properly or are blind or anyone who would much rather listen to a book than to read one. It is a huge genre that has opened up and is getting bigger all the time.
16. Sheepskin Wheelchair Arm Protectors. It is so much more comfortable to have some sort of fabric protectors on wheelchair arms. My favorite ones are made of sheepskin. They are natural, very soft, cool in summer and warm in winter, washable and don’t irritate or scratch my arms. Plus they look really cool.
17. Bedside commode My bathroom is small and my wheelchair is cumbersome so I decided enough is enough. There were several times when I had to be rescued by Life Alert and one time I actually broke a rib trying to get onto the toilet. I need help to get on and off the commode but Multiple Sclerosis affords us very little privacy. Embarrassment and humiliation are synonyms for MS. The alternative was just too awful to concede. Now that I’m actually using the bedside commode it is much more convenient than trying to get into the bathroom, on and off the toilet and then have to do it all in reverse to get the hell out of there. And that’s not even counting what you are in there to do when the first place.
18. Toast Grabber. Even something as simple as getting toast out of the toaster has become a tortuous task. Even for able-bodied people this little gadget is great and very inexpensive. Since it is made out of wood there was no chance of electrocuting yourself which is much better than putting a fork or another metal object into the toaster when you are struggling with your nice hot toast. It is actually a very large tweezers made from wood, is very easy to handle and beautifully pulls your toast out of the toaster without burning your fingers over electrocuting your toes.
19. Address Stickers. This probably sounds like it shouldn’t even be on this list but I love these things. To just one on an envelope is so much easier for me than to have to write out my whole address. For some people or maybe even most people it’s no big deal but for those of us with disabilities every little bit helps. I only have the use of my right hand and so even though it’s not impossible to do it uncomfortable. And not only that but my handwriting has gotten atrocious.
20. Ear Plugs. I am a very light sleeper and noise really bothers me and so I put in ear plugs every night. I buy them by the box online so they are a lot less expensive than the ones I like the best which are Howard Leight MAX earplugs.
21. Hospital Television With Flexible Arm. In the last several years I’ve spent some time in the hospital and in several of the rooms they had TVs set up with an extendable arm so that you could put the TV in whatever place was the most convenient at the moment. We, as patients could move it around while we were sitting or laying in bed and the hospital staff could move it out of the way whenever they needed to. I found it to be a really great idea and so when I got home from the hospital I decided to put that great idea into my bedroom. The TV can be maneuvered around and yet it is out of the way. For me that’s right because I’m constantly running into things with my wheelchair and I don’t need any more clutter The arms can be bought separately so you can put whatever television you like on the wall. They also, in different lights so that you could put different sizes of television near you. This set up has worked wonderfully for me.
These are all steps that I took one at a time over the course of years and looking back on it now I see that each one of these 21 things has added a little more independence to my life and I hope to yours.
I have written the book Potty Mouth which by the way is an appropriate title. Here is the URL for the book site and while you’re there listen to the radio interview that I’ve done. You can hear my real voice and find out more of what the book is about; a woman disabled by MS copes with life courage, wisdom and a profane sense of humor.