Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Necessity … The Mother of Inventions

This is an update to a 2009 post

As Kennedy’s Disease progresses, I have found I need to adjust how I live and make my life easier. Several others with Kennedy's Disease have also shared their thoughts. Below is a list of some of these ideas. The list is not meant to be all-inclusive, but rather just a starting point.

Chairs: Chairs with arms are far better because you can push off easier. When chair height becomes a problem, it becomes more difficult and eventually impossible to stand up from a normal chair without assistance. Initially, you can build up the chair height by adding a platform under the chair. A couple of 2x4s and ¾-inch plywood make it much easier to stand up. Another way is to buy dense foam seat cushions (one or two). These will add 2-4 inches of height to any chair. These are two inexpensive ways to make rising from a favorite chair easier. Later on, you might have to move to an 'uplift seat'. This device lifts you up and pushes you forward to help you stand up. Eventually, you might need to purchase a power recliner chair. This chair uses an electric motor to raise you up and move you forward to an almost standing position.

Sofas: You can experiment with using bed risers (leg extensions) under the legs of the sofa to increase the height. You need to check this out to make certain it is safe (supportive), however. You can also build a platform similar to the chair platform mentioned above. Some people have added a front toe-kick to make it look nicer.

Beds: Bed risers are perfect for increasing the height of a bed. Ever since I added risers to our bed, I have never strained to get up. Some people have used bed elevators to increase the head of the bed for easier sleeping. I found that using a foam wedge (6" high) is quite comfortable and helps me breathe easier. A couple of years ago, we purchased a bed that raises the head and/or feet, massages, and makes coffee in the morning (not really). The only problem with it was its height. So, we added risers and now I have the best of both worlds. 

Toothbrush:  I highly recommend an electric toothbrush. As my grip weakened and during cold weather, I had difficulty comfortably using a normal toothbrush. My dentist recommended the Phillips Sonicare brush. I have used it for eight years and find it an excellent way to maintain oral health and comfort.

Toilets: I recommend buying a taller toilet designed for handicap use. It will raise the seat height about two inches. There are also several devices to increase the height of the seat. Some of these are inexpensive while others are expensive. One device that I used that is inexpensive and yet very helpful is called a 'Tallete'. It is a molded plastic seat that sits on top of the toilet. They make them in various shapes to fit different toilet shapes. A 'Tallete' adds about 4" of height. I actually have two of them. I keep one in the van in case a handicap stall is not available. An uplift-seat designed for the commode will help get you to your feet. There are also devices on the market that have mechanical or motorized seats that lift you up. These type devices are more expensive, however. When I started using a wheelchair most of the time, transferring became a problem. Today, I use a seat assist called the Standard Power Toilet Aid. It changed my life in regards to visiting the bathroom. Unfortunately, it does not make coffee.

Portable Ramps: There are several types of ramps that will allow you access to homes with stairs. These ramps vary in height from five to ten feet. Some fold and others roll up. The major problem with most ramps is that they are heavy and awkward to handle. I also have a small aluminum ramp (3'x3') that allows me to go out of the house onto our rear deck and front porch while in my wheelchair.

Opening Jars: This becomes more of a problem as your hand and finger strength weakens. One person recommended using Craftsman strap wrenches. They come in a couple of sizes for different size jars and bottles. I use the "Oxo Goof Grip Jar Opener," a tool specifically designed for opening jars and bottles. This device has a handle on one end and a 'V' shaped head with a serrated edge on one side that allows you to open almost any size jar. For lids that just need a little extra nudge, I use rubber hand grips  that give me a better grip on lids. Prepworks is one company and they comes in three different sizes.

Grabber: One tool that is nice to have around the house and garage is a 'reach and grab' device. Most allow you to adjust the length. They have a handle on one end and a grabber on the other. If something drops to the floor or rolls under something, these devices are very handy. 

Keyboards:  Not everyone uses a PC anymore. I still do. Because of my wheelchair, I needed a cordless keyboard that could comfortably sit on my lap and I could move around. There are several portable keyboards on the market. I use Microsoft's Sculpt Ergonomic Destktop. The ergonomic aspect allows me to place the keyboard in my lap and rest my elbows naturally on the wheelchair arms.

As always, I would appreciate hearing from you on what makes your life easier (either in the comment section below or you can email me).

1 comment:

  1. Hands stopped working for proper cleaning I have been using this tool for 6 yrs and it allows me to live alone. Cheap, easy to install, and dependable. http://www.biffy.com/


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