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A Few Tips for Wheelchair Users

Tips gleaned from friends and from Michelle Hlavek of EMazing.com

 

Remain In Touch
Several years ago, I received nursing services from a home health agency, which provided me with an In Touch system. An In Touch system, available online from Dynamic Living, is an emergency response system that arranges calls to you in your home up to four times a day to make sure you're okay. First, a box with a direct line to the service is installed in your home. Then you just wear a call button on your body or wheelchair. If you press the button, a trained attendant will answer and will be able to hear you from anywhere in your home. Your emergency information will automatically appear on his/her computer screen. For a minimal fee, companion services are also available.

If you're in need of hearing a familiar voice, or needing any kind of social service information, you're encouraged to call in regularly. The price is a reasonable $55 per month, with a one time set up fee of $50. Companion calls cost an additional $15 to $36 a month, depending on the amount of contacts per day.

Click here for information and keep in touch!

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Custom Comfort
Those of you with impaired mobility must take caution and protect your skin against pressure sores. If you or your partner is disabled and needs an especially firm or soft mattress, I suggest getting an air mattress with dual chambers. Each chamber can become firmer or softer at the press of a switch, allowing the opposite chamber to remain at the same pressure.

I bought one of these Comfortaire pillow mattresses and absolutely love it! As I was browsing through their Web site just a few minutes ago, I found an optional wave maker massager for just $79. I must go now and add it to my list for Santa. Prices on the mattresses range from $1,429 to $1,969.

Click here for more information.

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Flowing Like A River
If you can't reach the control knobs on your sink, or you don't have a tight hand grip so you can turn them, I have an answer! Dynamic Living has a faucet rod on its site, which when pressed off-center, releases a free flow of water. Once released, the water completely shuts off. The water temperature is adjustable and will remain at your desired temp. The device comes ready to assemble and fits universal standard faucets. The price is a reasonable $11.99.

Click here to link.

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Velcro Buttons
If you're able to use only one arm or hand, buttoning a shirt or blouse may be a difficult if not impossible task. I suggest you use Velcro instead of buttons. I found on the Dynamic Living site some 2 x 2-inch pieces of Velcro with a button sewn to them. You button the Velcro button through the shirt's original buttonhole, then sew the Velcro in place behind the button. Next, remove the shirt's original button. In its place, sew on the matching piece of Velcro, face up. Simply press the two pieces of Velcro together, and consider yourself buttoned and sealed.

Click here and never button again!

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Eye Controlled Mouse
If you have no physical movement other than in your eyes, you still have enough movement to work a computer. The Quick Glance is a camera device that mounts onto your computer and watches your eyes. As you move your eyes, the mouse moves in exactly the same way. To click the mouse, blink slowly. If you use this controller with an onscreen keyboard, you'll be able to create synthesized speech, access the Internet, control lights and appliances, and operate a telephone. The price is $3,950.

Click here for more info or to order.

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Easy Reader
I do most of my work on the computer lying in bed on my side. My computer sits on a portable table on wheels, which is pushed up against my queen-size bed. Often, I find myself straining to read the enormous amounts of text on my computer screen. If you're unable to get yourself or your chair close enough to your PC, download a free online magnifier. This gem will magnify designated areas on your screen up to 64 times!

Click here for the free magnifier download from the ZDNet site.

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Opening Sesame
For you hemiplegics out there, Dynamic Living has a one-handed jar opener available that provides seven times the power of the average hand to open a jar. When the jar is pushed up, the suction is effortlessly broken. Jars with lids from a half-inch up to four inches in diameter can be opened. The opener mounts under a cabinet or shelf, and costs no more than a top-of-the-line regular electric can opener. (You could devise a mount for your counter top for easier access.)

Click here for info or to purchase.

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Elastic Shoelaces
If tying shoelaces is difficult for you, there's now no need to stop wearing lace up shoes. Just purchase some elastic shoelaces. These are designed to stretch as you slip your foot in and out of your shoes. Once they're tied, they stay put -- no more straggling laces. The laces are only $5.99 for 3 pair.

If you still find it difficult to slip your foot into the heel of your shoe, try a shoehorn. If leaning forward is difficult for you, there are shoehorns available that come with extension handles.

Click here to order.

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Voice-Activated Calling
If you're interested in getting voice-activated calling for your phone, you'll be pleased to find out that the simple system consists of a box that hooks up to your telephone. The device allows up to 50 preprogrammed numbers to be dialed via voice command, works on any standard telephone or cell phone, and recognizes more than one voice.

If you're unable to reach the phone from your bed or wheelchair, this device, available from Dynamic Living, will allow you to speak the name of the person you wish to call. The preprogrammed number will automatically dial and connect you with your desired party.

Click here for more info or to purchase.

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Talking Pill Box
Most people who use a wheelchair as their mode of transportation take prescription drugs for one reason or another. As one of those pill poppers, I know how easy it is to forget to take a dose of your medication.

If you don't always remember when it's time to take your meds, then a talking pill box might suit you just fine. You can preprogram it to alert the pill pusher up to four times a day to take his/her pills. Set the alarm for beep, voice, or a visual. Let this handy talking pill box remind you to take your medications at the proper times. After all, there's a reason we're on those pills! The Dynamic Living price is an affordable $29.99.

Click here to link.

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Touch Screen Keyboard
A touch screen is a neat idea for anyone, but for the dexterity-challenged person on wheels, or someone who uses a mouth stick, that capability could mean the difference in being able to communicate or not. An on screen keyboard keeps the user from having to constantly look away from the screen to the keyboard in order to press the keys. It will also keep the mouth-stick user from getting a stiff neck from looking down. Download a demo version from Enable Mart  (www.enablemart.com)  and see if the touch screen works for you.

Click here to download a demo version of the Touch Screen.

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Track Board
My fingers have contracted after nine years of paralysis, so I find it easier to use a trackball mouse with my computer. The problem is, when I type in my favorite position, i.e., while lying on my side in bed, the surrounding area gets cluttered up rather quickly. My trackball is pretty big and takes up a lot of space all by itself. In addition to my keyboard and mouse, I also have a speakerphone, caller ID, two television remotes, a remote switch for the light, and a remote switch for the front door right beside me.

If you're empathizing with me, you too may need as much space as possible for all your communications stuff. One suggestion: Buy a keyboard with a built-in trackball mouse. I found one online at the Desktop Products site (link below). Having the mouse built in leaves you a lot more space for your other electronic knick-knacks than a regular trackball.

Click here for info or to purchase.

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Tip From A Loyal Reader
This tip from a loyal reader comes from Jen S. Jen writes: "If you have to drink lots of water for your kidneys' sake, like I do, this may come in handy. Take the empty 12 oz. bottles that soft drinks come in and fill them about halfway with water. Put the bottles in the freezer, with the caps off. Then when you want ice water, fill the bottle the rest of the way with water. As the ice melts, it makes the water cold! I keep several on hand in the freezer door.

"The hot water they're washed in does do these bottles in after a while. So, if I know someone that drinks that size bottles of soda, I ask him/her to save a few for me. If you have trouble drinking from this type of bottle, you can get the bottle squirters that you pull the top and drink from. I have seen these in stores like WalMart, usually sold in packages of four."

Thanks, Jen!

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Magic Cursor
If you have weak fingers, clicking the button on your mouse is probably difficult for you. Fortunately, somebody decided to do away with this dilemma by inventing The Magic Mouse 2000. This wonderful computer critter performs all of the other mouse functions, and held over a selected item for a specified period of time, lets the click take care of itself. To learn about pricing, call Madentec at 1+877-623-3682. An online demo is also available for you to download (link below)

Click here to download the demo.

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Independent Living Centers
Independent Living Centers are located in most major cities throughout the United States. These not-for-profit organizations are designed to integrate people with disabilities into the community and allow them to live as independently as possible. I utilize my local center regularly through their PCA (Personal Care Attendant) program. People who are looking to help those with disabilities are interviewed and added to a registry. When someone such as myself is in need of attendant care, s/he can call and get a list of phone numbers of those in the registry.

In order to register for this great program, I had to go to the center and sign up. The simple sign-up process consisted of filling out a form with the coordinator of this particular program. On the form, I provided a description of my needs. This way, the person seeking employment can get a better understanding as to what will be expected of him/her as far as job duties go.

For a listing of ILC's in the country, click here.

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Camera Mounting System
This camera mounting system allows wheelchair users to take pictures without holding the camera. The adjustable arm attaches easily to a wheelchair or table giving the photographer a steady and even shot. The one I found online is from Orcca Tehcnology (link below), is compatible with the adapted Polaroid Impulse Camera, and sells for $100. This would make a wonderful gift for the holidays, which are just around the corner.

Click here to link.

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Sticky Keys
If you type one handed like I do, it's next to impossible to perform certain functions, such as simultaneously pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del. Using the Window's Sticky Key feature will eliminate this problem. This feature allows users to press a key and then release it, and then press the other key or keys without having to press and hold all simultaneously. This feature is found under the Accessibility Option on your Windows Control Panel. Macintosh users may turn on Sticky Keys by pressing the Shift button five times or via the Easy Access Control Panel.

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Temperature Too High?
My former home, where I lived before moving into my current residence, was somewhat wheelchair accessible -- but not completely. For example, the thermostat was too high for me to reach, or read the number it was set on, or read the room temperature. I decided that a talking thermometer was exactly what I needed. Fortunately, I found one online which I can program to announce the indoor and outdoor temperatures at preset times throughout the day. You can choose to have the temps in either Celsius or Fahrenheit readings. The thermostat features an LCD temperature reading as well, and a button to press when you want to know the current temperature. The price is $19.99.

Click here to link.

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It's About Time
Several months after my paralyzing diving injury, I moved into an assisted living facility. My mother gave me a clock that audibly stated the time every hour on the hour. On its base was a large glow-in-the-dark button. When tapped lightly, the clock again announced the time. An audible clock comes in very handy if you're unable to see the clock face and if you always want to know the time.

I found a similar clock to the one my mother gave me online from Dynamic Living. It sells for just $14.99.

Click here to link.


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