Sites like RehabMart have a wide array of items that can help make activities of daily living easier and foster independence. There are lots of similar websites, including Amazon, with a wide array of price points.
If you are looking for ways to either simplify a task or still be able to do it alone, consider the following:
• Check with your condition specific support group, in person or on line, for recommendations. For example-for motion disorders, check out Assistive Devices from International Essential Tremor Foundation. Other sites are included below in the “links” section.
• Visit the exhibit areas of condition specific conferences. Many vendors have amazing “freebies” such as long shoehorns, devices to open jars and a wide selection of pill caddies to help remind you when to take meds. Sometimes specialty clinics and centers at a hospital or health center have items to try out and/or keep.
• Visit your local durable medical goods supply store and try items before buying.
• An occupational or physical therapist can also make suggestions, but will need to be paid for consultation.
• Case managers, social workers and your care providers are also good sources to check.
• Ordering items from specialty catalogues and web sites will cost more than if you can buy them from a regular store. For example OXO makes a variety of cooking, housewares and gardening tools that are known for their ease of use. Consequently, you can find them on sale at places like TJ Maxx, making it much cheaper than ordering from a website that is exclusively providing assistive devices
• Do It Yourself (DIY): There are lots of websites that are dedicated to addressing needs with gadgets you can make yourself:
- Zebreda Makes it Work: Lots of videos on DIY Assistive devices
Gadgets to Consider
Cleaning: Fatigue is a major issue for many with chronic conditions so having devices that can vacuum, mop, clean the pool, cut the lawn, change the litter box or clean your shower can make life easier. Some of these product aren’t cheap but for many having them makes a big difference in home cleanliness. Some products to consider include: iRobot
Kitchen Gadgets: To save time and energy, as well as to remind you to cook, leave items out on the counter so they are easily accessible.
• The Magic Bullet is definitely helpful for a lot of people dealing with chronic conditions. However, you can get the same benefit, and save money, by using a mason jar instead of the pitcher on most blenders.
• A slow cooker, also called a Crock Pot, can be a real benefit for those who don’t have energy to cook at the end of the day, or who cook a lot of food so some of it can be frozen for another day.
• A Heat Diffuser distributes heat evenly on the stove top and eliminates the need to stir food while cooking.
• An electric can opener.
• Food processors are not only a time saver, they make vegetable chopping a breeze.
• Food storage containers that go directly from the freezer to the oven or microwave are ideal. TJ Maxx will often have a variety of these on sale. Look for ones that you can easily lock and open. Use glass and avoid the plastics if possible.
• A dishwasher is an essential in many homes, but if you aren’t fortunate enough to have one, try the following to make hand washing dishes easier: Put a dishpan or bin near the sink and fill it, not the sink with dirty dishes. This way your sink is always available to wash dishes. Let pots or pans that are a greasy mess soak for a while in soapy water. Clean in the following order: glasses, then cutlery, then plates that are scraped, then pots and pans Cold water gets off starches and dairy products while hot water makes them gum up. There are a wide variety of dish detergent holders/scrubbers that are pretty convenient, including one made by OXO
• Foaming soap dispenser are easy to use and aids in cleaner hands. Don’t buy the liquid soap that is marketed for these dispensers instead pour 3-4 T of soap and add water. Use more or less depending on how much suds you like. While there are a variety of fancy “foamers” out there, the ones that seem to hold up come preloaded with a product, such as Method.
Liquid Dispenser for shampoo, conditioner etc: Set at a convenient height and save your energy for something else.
Digitsole: For people with foot issues, this wearable insert works with a companion app to adjust the perfect heat temperature for your feet. It’s water resistant and even tracks your steps so you’ll know how much exercise you’re actually getting. No sure how this product works, but know a lot of people that could benefit from it.
TrackR StickR: These small but useful little gadgets were made specifically for people who have a habit of misplacing their keys, phone, wallet or other things. Avoid the frustration that comes with searching for a lost item by attaching these quarter-sized devices on them. The TrackR StickR communicates with a companion app to reveal the location of the sticker attached to the missing object.
Links to check out
• 10 Cool Gadgets to Assist People with Arthritis & Hand Pain
• Assistive Technology from the American Foundation for the Blind Be sure to check with state Blind and low vision services as many states have programs to provide these items for free or at low cost.