20 +20 = 40 Things That Will Make Life Easier For People With Disabilities
1. Portable Ramp With Handles. If you were to come into my home you would find that there are three different places in order to accommodate my wheelchair. In this way I have easy access and a lot less frustration trying to enter into my own house. Ramps come in all different shapes and sizes and some of them can be folded up like a suitcase with a handle so you can transport them whenever and wherever you need.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Sliding Shower Bench. There came a day when I finally decided to break down and by a shower bench. Now I have a home health aide would help me to take a shower and the sliding bench which allows me to much more easily get into the shower. The seat actually slides from one side to the other which makes it much safer. I do find that sometimes the seat is slippery so what I do is to put a washcloth on the seat so that I don’t slide and fall off of the chair. You will also notice that this particular chair comes with the seat belt for added safety.
5. e- reader. There are 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.
6.. Folding Walker With Seat One day many years ago I was shopping with a friend of mine in Walmart. At that time I was still able to walk but very unsteadily and not for any great distance. I was pushing one of those very large shopping carts and found my legs getting weaker and weaker so that I could barely stand up anymore. I happen to see a woman who was in sort of my same condition however she was using a walker and I was astonished as I watched her take her walker out of her shopping basket, unfolded and pull down the seat so she was able to sit down right there on the spot! What I really wanted to do at that point was to hop over to her, push her out of the way so I could sit down and get a load off my feet. Of course I did not do that. You would not have been very nice. But you get the point. These are great.
7. 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 the 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.
8. Latex Gloves. I always keep these around and I use them for several purposes. For putting medication wherever needed; using them when I need to use the bedside commode and whatever else I need for personal use. You can buy them in different sizes, different colors, with or without powder and in varying degrees of thickness. I personally like the Invacare ones because they are sturdy and don’t easily break.
9. 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.
10. Portable Patient Lift. Patient lifts are for the benefit of both the patient and the caregiver. They provide a safe way to lift a person and place them onto a chair or bed or wherever the patient wants to go. The person is placed in a sling and then the on safely swings over to wherever she needs to be .So far I have not needed to use one although we have one in the house for if ever and whenever the need arises.
11. 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.
12. Bendable Utensils. you can find many different kinds of eating utensils for people who have trouble with their food as do I. The ones pictured below happened to be bendable so that you can position them to make that easier to operate. It’s a simple thing but it can make a big difference to someone who just needs a little bit of help.
13. 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 glass to put it in , 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.
14. Adjustable Bedside Table. Although the description says an adjustable bed side table I actually use it in the living room. We can make it higher or lower and because it’s on wheels the can easily push it out of the way. I use it to put my meals on so it’s easier for me to eat, I keep a glass of water or green tea on it, and I can use it to do whatever paperwork needs to be done.
15. 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. The MS society also gives a really great discount when you buy them! 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!
16. 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 my reacher and sometimes the 12 inch tweezers will actually work better.
17. 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.
18 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 riding 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.
19. Adult Bib. Because I do have problem with dropping food and controlling my silverware properly, I often leave stains on my clothing. I finally figured out that it could be solved by getting some adult bibs so I could keep my clothing a lot cleaner and feel a lot better about myself. Again, a very simple solution. Perhaps not pretty, but a lot better than the alternative.
20. 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.
21. 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.
22.Stocking and Sock Helper. Even something as simple as putting on a pair of socks can be a pain in the neck for those of us with physical disabilities. So, for those times there are implements that can actually help us to do just that; give us a hand in covering our feet. I nifty little gadget that doesn’t actually put the sock on our foot but puts the foot into our sock.
23. 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.
24. 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.
25. 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.
26. 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 in the first place.
27. Over the Shoulder Heating Pad. Heating pads come in all different shapes and sizes and since I have shoulder pain this is the one that works best for me. It fits my area of pain perfectly and is a great relief. If you too suffer from pain give this a try. It just might help.
28. 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 or electrocuting your toes.
29. Moisturizing Cleaning Cloths. Pre-moisturized cloths are great to have around the house for several different purposes. The main reason I use them is for cleaning myself after using the bedside commode for body functions. They can also be used for washing your hands, wiping up spills or any other number of purposes. I buy them in bulk from Costco or on the Internet in order to save money and have them always on hand.
30. Leg Protectors. Before I found this wonderful things my legs used to always hit against each other while sitting in my wheelchair or laying down in bed. When placed between the knees they keep my legs from rubbing against each other and also keep my hips aligned. It is very comfortable and even comes with a pillowcase so that you can keep them clean. I have my own name for them. I call them my knee knockers because they keep my knees from knocking together. So now even my family calls it my knee knocker.
31. 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 is uncomfortable. And not only that but my handwriting has gotten atrocious.
32. Foldable Walker Tray. I love this thing, the foldable walker tray. Just look at the wonderful drink holders and the lip around the tray that keeps stuff from falling or slipping or dripping off.
33. 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. The ones I like the best are the Howard Leight MAX earplugs.
34. 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 great because I’m constantly running into things with my wheelchair and I don’t need any more clutter. The arms can be bought separately in different lengths so you can put whatever size television you like on the wall. This set up has worked wonderfully for me.
35. Step Stool With Handles. The good thing about this step stool besides the rubberized step part for a nonslip surface is the long handle which gives you extra balance when stepping up so that there is less probability of falls.
36. Computer With Internet Service. Whatever would I do without the computer? I have read it said that 46% of disabled people are without access to a computer. What a shame because for me it is a lifeline. The social networks are truly that. They keep me connected to the world and the Internet is a never ending source of learning and information. As the saying goes, a mind is a terrible thing to waste and having a computer is a terrific way to stay in touch and feel part of something bigger than yourself. It is imperative for those of us who are cut off from the world in other ways. No matter what age we are, no matter what disability we have, no matter how smart or savvy or ingenious we all have so much to gain from the immense world that is out there. There is an excitement and joy in learning and sharing and what a shame it is that just because we are disabled we are not given the chance in this wonderful world of knowledge.
37. Urinary Incontinence Products. Yep, these two come in all different shapes and sizes for men and for women, so that if you have this very common problem. There are all different kinds of products to help you stay dry and comfortable and not embarrassed. No more need be said.
38. Magnifying Glass.
39. Clip Board.
37. Sense of Humor.
38. Laughter. It’s the best medicine.
39. Hope. It’s what keeps us going; It’s what gets us up in the morning; It’s what keeps scientists searching for cures…
40. Love. Spread the word.
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.