I have three attendants who rotate duties in assisting me. I used to do my best at remembering the items they'd tell me were running low on and that I needed to get from the store. Often, though, I'd feel frustrated when they mentioned these items because I have so many things I need to remember as it is. Frankly, I just felt overwhelmed!
Luckily, I saw the light. I began keeping a community grocery list and taping it to my bathroom mirror. At any time, I can look at the list and see what I need, or see what the last person either didn't buy or added to the list. And best of all, I took one more thing off my "must remember" agenda.
Several times throughout the day I wash my face, which energizes and invigorates me. My washcloths and hand towels are stored in my closet, but I can't get to them since my puppy's potty papers are on the closet floor. So, before my attendant leaves for the day, I ensure that she places my washcloth in the sink and hangs a hand towel on my towel hook. If you rely on the assistance of others for the activities of daily living, make sure everything is within your reach before your assistant leaves.
Hair Styling Or Typing Tool?
In an earlier tip (see archives), I've told you about the typing aid I slip over my hand when I'm ready to type. Last week I discovered a new use for this gadget. Since I can no longer use my fingers, I have difficulty getting my hair to do what I want it to. My attendant suggested that I try using the rubber-tipped extension to shape my hair after she sprays hairspray on it. This trick worked very well and I'm thrilled with the results. Being able to adapt even in this small way gave me a great feeling that anything is possible if you're open to it!
To order one for yourself, click here. Enter 'typing' in the Search box.
Better Than A Spit Shine
If you're on a character-building fixed income as I am, you spend as little money as possible. My friend, Fil Nutter, gave me his tried and true recipe for an inexpensive, potent glass cleaner. Fil pours into a one-quart spray bottle one cup of household ammonia, one cup of cider vinegar, and one cup of water. For a clear shine on glass, he recommends you use newspaper instead of paper towels. (Those sometimes-pesky paper towels leave behind white lint particles, whereas newspaper does not.) By using the homemade cleaner and newspaper instead of an expensive brand name product, you can save enough money to treat yourself to a nice lunch once in a while.
Scratch This: Tip From A Loyal Reader
This month's tip comes from Holly Bercik, one of my loyal readers. Holly writes, "Instead of buying those expensive protective coverings for the front of my wheelchair, I purchased a regular 'pleather' steering wheel cover from the automotive department at my local WalMart. I cut the cover in half and wrapped the front of each side of my chair with the cover, securing it with the plastic string that came with the kit. My car is white, and before I began covering my chair, I left blue scratches all over the car door -- not to mention the nicks on my chair. These 'wraps' protect the custom paint job on my chair as well as my car."
Thank you, Holly!
Remote Control Phone
Make one false move while sprinting to answer a ringing telephone and you'll tear up your doorways and walls with your chair. To remedy the natural inclination to dash for the phone, I discovered the perfect solution for every wheelchair pilot: a remote controlled telephone. The Ameriphone Dialogue RC-100's customizing functions use a "mouse-style" remote device to control it. From up to 40 feet away, it scans, dials, and answers the phone. It will store up to six numbers, and its high fidelity speaker and microphone provide a quality sound from up to 15 feet away. The remote can be mounted on a wheelchair, wall, or desk. The price is a $299.95. Thank goodness my birthday and Christmas are coming!
Click here to order
I've written about the convenience of using AAA roadside assistance in an earlier tip, but I just found out some new information last week. Up to five towing services are covered per year under the regular member rate. Any trips over that number will cost an additional $25.00. I learned this after receiving a letter that I have used up four of my five trips.
Unfortunately, sometimes you just have to have your vehicle towed! For example, my electric sliding door failed on my minivan, so I called AAA and they towed it to my mechanic. After it was fixed, AAA delivered it back to me. Now that's service!
Click here for more info on AAA and its rules and regs
Most stoves have hand control knobs located on their back panel, making them nearly impossible to turn from a wheelchair. Also, reaching over a hot burner is extremely dangerous. The remedy? An electric egg cooker will give you perfectly poached or boiled eggs without needing to use your stove. Up to seven eggs can be boiled at one time, and up to four can be poached. The machine chirps when your eggs are cooked exactly as you like them.
Click here to order
Peeling potatoes and apples is difficult for some folks with arthritis or other disabilities that involve a limited hand grasping motion. With this electric peeler, you can fix potatoes every day! Just place your clean potatoes or apples in the container, turn it on, and in just a few minutes, they'll be perfectly peeled and ready to be baked or fried. The gadget comes with a removable basket, which allows it to double as a salad spinner and dry off freshly washed lettuce leaves. This product sells for $65.00.
Click here for more info or to order.
Love To Bake?
If your oven is not wheelchair-friendly, as most aren't, don't fret! Baking, broiling and roasting are still possible with the use of a countertop toaster oven. Roll right under your counter and set your filets or patties on the oven rack. Having the food so close allows for accurate monitoring so you're sure it's cooked to your preference.
Keep The Book Open
Reading in bed can be a chore for a person with limited movement. For example, holding open a book or magazine is almost next to impossible for me since my fingers are contracted. My hands look as though they're in loose fists. My suggestion to anyone in a similar situation is to use a lap tray designed to hold your reading material open. These are useful on your lap, in bed, in your wheelchair, and on countertops.
Do you feel free to throw a roast in the oven and go about your business? Now you can, with an automatic cooking thermometer that will let you know when your meat is at the desired temperature. Preset the alarm at one of three settings to let you know when the meat is well done, medium, or medium rare. The digital readout displays the meat's inner temperature. This handy helper sells for $47.95.
Click here for more info or to order.
People with sensitive skin who wear a catheter may get a rash just from their catheter resting against their skin. As a preventative measure, place a piece of gauze or cotton under the area that gets irritated, or try wiping the area with a skin prep barrier wipe.
Smith & Nephew makes a nonirritating barrier product designed to insulate the skin from surface irritants. When it dries, the barrier leaves a slick surface, as if a sheet of Saran Wrap was covering the area. I use this product daily and pay $15.82 for a box of 50 at my local medical supply store. It's well worth the money!
Slip 'N Slide
Turning someone while s/he's in bed, especially in a low bed, can be back wrenching to a caregiver. Try this for a remedy: Cut a garbage bag open so it lays flat, and then lay it on the mattress. Place a flat sheet on top of the garbage bag to act as a draw sheet. When turning the client, the caregiver can pull on the draw sheet and move the patient much easier. Go slowly, though! You don't want your client to end up on the floor.
Personal Cooling System
When I overheat, it takes hours for me to cool off. I already know that the best thing to do is not to get that hot to begin with, but sometimes, it's unavoidable. Fortunately, Sharper Image carries a personal cooling system that you wear around your neck. Fill it with four ounces of water, place it around your neck, and enjoy up to four hours of evaporative cooling. When empty, the unit weighs only 10 ounces. It features both high and low speeds and runs on a single AA battery. The product sells for $49.95.
Click here to visit the Sharper Image site.
Put A Basket On Your Walker
For those of you who are ambulatory with the assistance of a walker, attaching a basket to your device is a good idea. It can save you a trip across a room to retrieve something you may use regularly, such as a remote control for the television or a portable phone. At bedtime, placing the walker next to your bed and facing the basket toward you could help save you some difficult maneuvering, as well!
As I was browsing through Wal-Mart last week, I ran across a squirt bottle with a battery operated fan attached. I turned on the fan and felt a very strong breeze. You need two AA batteries to propel the foam-bladed fan. I bought one and can't wait to try it out outdoors!
Coupled with the mist of water, this could mean the difference between being able to enjoy time in the sun or not. The fan was just $4.00 in Wal-Mart, but goes for $9.99 on the Squeeze Breeze Web site.
Click here to access the Squeeze Breeze site.
Make Fewer Pit Stops
Catheters themselves offer a convenience factor, but sometimes the process of emptying leg bags doesn't, especially if you drink a lot of liquids. Unfortunately, accessible restrooms aren't always available out in the world. I've known several people who hook their catheters up to a night drainage bag, which holds much more urine than a tiny leg bag. This method can mean independence for some folks who can't empty their bags on their own. If you thread the tubing behind or below your chair, the bag itself can be easily camouflaged inside of a non-restricting bag.
Keep Your Cool
Last week as I was having my air conditioner serviced, the technician told me that a wireless thermostat is now available. He told me that it will control an a/c unit from anywhere inside a 50-story building, so I trust it will work in my two bedroom condominium! The LCD display glows for easy viewing in the dark. The control can be mounted onto a wheelchair armrest, a wall, a night table, or anywhere it is convenient. The price is $363, but keep in mind that this device can move with you if you change residences.
Click here for more info.
Keep Up With The Bestsellers
If you love to read, you'll be pleased to learn about this site! Audio books are available for download or as streaming media on MediaBay.com. Each month, you can download or listen to 20 hours of streaming media for just $9.95; additional time is 95 cents per hour. Time is billed on the first of each month to the subscriber's credit card. Not sure about a certain book? Sound clips are available so you can listen to some passages before you purchase.
Click here to link to MediaBay.
My friend, Mike Rhea, explained to me how he creates accessible pockets on his pants. When he purchases long pants, he has cargo pockets made of similar material sewn onto the inside of the calf area. Since he can't easily access regular pockets, these additions provide handy nooks to store items such as a cell phone or keys.
Before going on a road trip or exploring a city you've never been to before, visit MapQuest online. Their site will provide you with driving directions from any two addresses across the country. You'll have instant access to current traffic reports, city guides, and maps. Yellow and white page listings are available, and Mapquest also has an address book so you can store your important numbers.
Click here to access the MapQuest site.
Able-Phone offers a series of telephones suitable for the person with little or no use of his/her arms and/or hands. Several models are available with specific features. Some of these features include voice or whistling recognition to turn on the phone; voice recognition memory dialing; automatic turn on/off for the phone; and touch pad switches designed for assistance dogs to activate. Prices range from $199 to $579 -- a bit steep, maybe, but worth the price of not needing your hands to be connected to the outside world.
Click here to access the Able-Phone link.
Cutting Your Rx Cost
Prescription drugs can be outrageously expensive, especially to someone on a fixed income. Also, some doctors may be unaware that many pharmaceutical companies have programs to assist patients who are in financial need. Each company has a specific list of eligibility requirements and most have a large number of medications they will provide at low or no cost. Check out the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) site to see if your medication is listed; it's definitely worth a look.
Click here for some ideas on getting help with your meds.
The law requires gas station attendants to aid disabled motorists with pumping gas. If you honk and the attendant looks at you like you're an alien, I suggest pulling over to the side, getting out, and going into the store so the attendant understands that you need assistance. Otherwise, how in the world could s/he be expected to know about your predicament?
But an advance call to the station from your cell phone can eliminate the hassle of having to disembark your vehicle. And becoming friends with the attendants is helpful, too -- they'll soon learn to recognize your van or car.
Keep your area rugs from getting bunched up in your tires by placing a rug liner between the floor and the rug. Made of polyester with synthetic latex foam, the liner firmly holds the rug down, allowing your chair to roll freely without creating any barriers. You can also use this same material underneath your bath mat to keep it from bunching up as you wheel in and out of the shower or bathroom.
Tip From A Loyal Reader
Rick writes: "I am a T-12 paraplegic. I have Repetitive Use Syndrome in my shoulders from transferring to and from and pushing my wheelchair. When one of my shoulders is really bothering me, I let about 10 to 15 pounds of air pressure out of my tire on the side of my chair that my better shoulder is on. This makes my chair pull to that side. I can then use my good shoulder to push my chair and rest my sore one. This may be helpful to someone out there who has the same problem."
Slide To Me
Some of the most precious moments in my day are the ones I spend getting clean in the shower. It's taken some experimenting to find just the right settings, but the results are well worth the hassle. For example, I first had a wall-mounted shower attached to the front of the shower so the spray was aimed at my legs; a hand held shower was also mounted onto the base. After experimenting with its placement, I found that the shower functions better if it's mounted to spray towards my side. This way, I am closer to the spray of water and can rinse myself quicker since the pressure is stronger. Plus, it's nice to have the handle within my reach, especially when I get soap in my eyes.
Wheeler's Vacation Downunder
New thatched roof bungalow set on 2 acres of absolute waterfront with a private jetty for fishing/diving. Koalas in the trees, dolphins swim past daily on their journey to Moreton Island. The bungalow is also accessible to electric wheelchairs, it features roll-in shower, fold down seat, grab rails, front loading washing machine/dryer. Visit the website at http://www.amitybungalows.com.au/ for all the info about this exciting new destination, just one hour from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
email Amity Bungalows
Get Along, Little Doggy
My best friend weighs just 7.2 pounds -- he's my toy poodle, Duke. He's tiny enough to go everywhere with me, and does just that! He's been on airplanes with me, on road trips, in hospitals, and shopping malls. His favorite destinations are the McDonald's drive-thru and PetsMart.
I call Duke my "hood ornament" because he stands on the edge of my knees when my chair is in motion. When we get into my van, he stays on my lap until I pull up to the steering column, then he hops over onto the passenger seat. For those of you who can't bend over to pick up your furry friend and help him or her into your vehicle, try using a portable ramp. Some dogs are too small or arthritic to conquer the feat of jumping up into taller vehicles, such as trucks, vans, and SUVs. Portable doggy ramps are available, and worth it if you always want your best friend at your side.
Click here for some info on a doggy ramp.
Breaking The Ice With Humor
Sometimes people nonchalantly ask me what happened to me that caused me to have to use a wheelchair. At times, I come right out and tell them I dove into a sandbar in the ocean and broke my neck, which is the truth. Other times, when I feel like having some fun, I'll tell them I was a science project that went terribly wrong or something equally outrageous. The reactions I get are usually smiles, but every now and then I'll have someone give me a look of shear terror. I then tell them I'm kidding. It seems to break the ice with these individuals and make them more comfortable knowing I am at peace with myself. Try it sometime!
Protective Wheelchair Cases
I've heard horror stories from friends about the damage sustained to their wheelchairs when they're traveling by air. I've seen the harm that baggage handlers have caused to their equipment while loading and unloading. Instead of taking the precious risk of having your chair become inoperable, rent or purchase a protective wheelchair cover and personally make sure your chair is properly cared for.
The Haseltine flyer has a case to fit most manual chairs, and a case to fit most standard power chairs or scooters, as well. Manual chairs that fold horizontally or vertically are not a problem. The headrest on a power chair must be detachable, however. Some airlines require the battery to be removed, whether it's water or gel filled. Airlines should not add a fee for using the cases. The smaller fleets of most airlines (commuters) do not have ample storage space. Check with the airline when making your reservations. (I suggest you check your chair in its case at the curbside baggage.
Click here to access the Haseltine site.
The Golf Xpress golf cart is a single-person cart for the disabled or senior golf enthusiast. All controls are hand operated. The seat swivels 360 degrees and has infinite settings, adjustable height, adjustable restraint system, and a wraparound handrail for quick seating positioning. A front-mounted bag holder, as well as cane/crutch holder, come standard. It even has a shelf for a cooler or oxygen tank.
The cart's swivel seat feature offers the player the option of staying seated or standing, if possible, when swinging the club. The frame is sturdy enough for a one handed swing. Since the Golf Xpress has higher ground clearance than a scooter, it's ideal for persons living in gated communities, on college campuses, or in the garden too!
Click here for more information.
Is Your Glass Half Full?
Our attitudes dictate our perceptions. One person may look at a glass of water and see just that, while another person may look at the same glass and see a refreshing, replenishing, thirst quencher. Christine Rankin is one of the optimists who views things in her life, such as mobility devices, as enabling gifts, not hindrances. Christine writes: "The reason for this letter is to share with you the sense of freedom my wheelchair has given me. For most people, the wheelchair represents some confinement. For me, it has allowed me to hold my children's hands while at the mall or crossing the street. It has allowed me to carry them in my arms. This I could not have done with crutches. My chair has also allowed me to go into stores without assistance or getting tired. I used to have to kneel to look at merchandise."
If more people could alter their perceptions, I believe there would be much happier people in this world! Thank you so much, Christine, for sharing your positive insight.
Building a roll-in shower can be quite costly. Avoid the costs by using the Slider shower chair and tub frame system, with a removable support frame that sits in an existing bathtub. Place the rolling chair next to the frame in the tub and interlock it with the frames. The seat on the rolling chair can then slide over onto the support frame. The frame on wheels can be removed during the shower to give caregivers easy access to their client. When finished with the shower, repeat in the reverse order.
The frames are made of PVC piping so they're lightweight and won't rust. Another plus is that with this device, you don't take away the "soaking in the tub" experience from other family members.
Click here for more information and pricing.
Manicure Made Easy
Several years ago, I was browsing at my local medical supply store and stumbled on a gadget that consisted of a plastic base with nail clippers and a file mounted on it. The bottom of the base had two suction cups attached to it, which created a very strong bond to the counter. I purchased the product and took it home to try out. With the minimal use I have in my hands, I found that my nails were too hard to cut through, but I knew it would be a great product for somebody else. Recently, I ran across a similar product online, except it doesn't have the suction cups on the bottom. Super gluing some on wouldn't be a difficult task. Check it out and see if this would benefit you or someone you know.
Click here to take a look.
Not Slippery When Wet
The grab bar in my shower sits out far enough away from the wall that I can hook the bend of my arm around it and pull myself forward. However, when my arms are lathered with suds, I can't pull myself forward because my arm slips easily in sudsy bubbles. Fortunately, there's an easy to apply strip, called the EZ Grip Sleeve, which will eliminate slick surfaces with its nonskid grab bar cover. In turn, this cuts down on the risk of unnecessary injury.
Click here for more information on the EZ Grip Sleeve.
My good friend Mike responded to my tip regarding wearing reflective clothing while you're wheeling outside at night. He said: "For your information about riding at night... You can get jackets at bicycling places that are imbedded with microscopic reflectors. The jacket looks normal, but when car headlights shine on it, the whole thing lights up."
Thanks for the excellent suggestion, Mike!
Click here to visit an online store that sells reflective clothing. If you do a key word search, you'll find even more.
Mop Your Dust Away
Since I tiled my condominium, vacuuming is a chore I no longer need to worry about. Instead, I have an entirely new problem on my mitts. Now dust collects in enormous amounts.
Recently, my attendant told me about Pledge Grab-It, and dust buildup is no longer an issue. The device consists of a long handle with a flat base about 9" X 6". A Grab-It cloth wraps around the base and secures into perforated, stabilizing grooves. As the cloth glides over the smooth floor, it picks up particles that vacuums would normally blow around. (Used dryer sheets are an inexpensive alternative to the special cloths.) Since the handle swivels, it's easy to use from a chair. No more excuses for dust bunnies!
Click here for more info.
Rejuvenating Your Skin
Those of you able to take a bath or shower -- please don't ever lose appreciation for that luxury. Not everyone who uses a chair is capable of getting into a tub or shower, or can afford a roll-in shower. For those individuals, there are disposable washcloths made by Comfort Bath; these cloths are presoaked with gentle cleansers, as well as vitamin E and aloe enriched moisturizers. You can find them in most drug stores.
What makes the cloths unique is the soothing sensation left on your skin after they're warmed in the microwave. The soap is mild enough to not disrupt your skin's natural pH balance since it's very similar to the pH level of our skin.
Click here to find a store near you that carries Comfort Bath cloths.
Dusting counter tops, furniture, and appliances is difficult for some people with impaired mobility. Thankfully, the makers of Pledge furniture polish have introduced dusting gloves to the market. These gloves, which slip easily over your hand and are available everywhere cleaning products are sold, are made of specially designed fibers that cling to dust.
I would even recommend wetting a glove and adding a little soap to clean sinks and surface areas that need a thorough cleaning. When you finish, rinse the gloves and hang to dry for future use.
Click here for more info.
Isn't it annoying when you clean your windows and mirrors and your paper towel leaves that fuzzy white lint behind? Try using crumpled up newspaper instead. It leaves glass surfaces spotless and lint free. It costs next to nothing and one Sunday paper can go a long way. Just don't forget to read the comics section before you begin your cleaning!
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