At Home Everyday Gear Wheelchairs

Pull-Down Closet Rod

Image of a Closet Rod That Pulls Down for AccessibilityFew people have enough closet space, and getting to the higher reaches of any closet can be tricky for just about everyone. This hydraulic rod could essentially double the effective storage in a closet, while also making it simple to get to garments stored out of reach.

This closet rod features smooth hydraulic hinges, adjustable width for a custom fit in any closet, and a handle for easy access. The handle included in the kit measures 28″ from the rod to the end. 48″ extension handles are available for extra high hanging. The closet rod itself pulls out and down and stays there while you select or hang clothes. Once you have selected a garment, simply lift up on the bar and the hydraulic assisted hinges will lift the closet rod back into place.

Potentially wonderful for anyone who uses a wheelchair, and for anyone who uses a closet!

Available online at Organize-It

At Home Clothing Everyday Gear Gifts

Slippers With Built-In Lights

Image of a Pair of Brightly Striped Slippers with Lights in the ToesSooner or later, just about everyone walks (or falls) into something on the way to a light switch in the middle of the night. These Bright Feet slippers are ‘bright’ in more ways than one, though, and are a marvelous way to get across a room when there are no other lights on. These are also a great alternative to a night light that is too bright or not usefully located.

Tiny, but brilliant, LED lights are embedded in the front of each slipper. There’s a sensor on one side of the slipper, which turns on the LED only when it’s dark. Batteries go in a slot on the other side of each slipper.

Image of a Pair of Pink Slippers with Lights in the Toes

At Home Nursing Home Wheelchairs

Alarm Mat for Those Who Stray

Image of a Vinyl Floor Alarm MatAs my dad’s mind and body change, his ability to understand and interpret the changes is diminishing. As a result, falls have become a very serious issue, and a frequent occurrence. Dad has never wanted to ring the call bell for assistance, but now he sometimes forgets to use it, and, occasionally, forgets that the bell exists.

One of these alarm mats is now installed at the entryway to his bathroom — the place where his falls inevitably occur. It’s quite inobtrusive (the color of his carpet is almost identical to the color of the mat), but the alarm is not. There’s no mistaking it for any other sound, and no ignoring it.

It’s quite sensitive; I set it off myself just by stepping accidentally on a corner.

A switch box is mounted out of wheelchair reach on the inside of the bathroom. A slider turns the alarm off, and, when returned to the original position, resets the alarm.

This solution is working well for Dad; the alarm could also be used next to a bed (as in the image above), or across just about any doorway. The mat’s quite thin (especially around the edges), and very ‘sticky’; it’s unlikely to cause tripping.

Available online from Mountainside Medical and various other medical supply houses

At Home Everyday Gear Gifts

Soap Without Stress

Image of a Soap Dispenser with an Automatic SensorIn its catalog blurb, the company selling this stainless steel soap dispenser touts the way it avoids cross-contamination in the kitchen. Since you don’t have to touch the dispenser, there’s no chance of getting chicken bacteria all over the pump and sharing the bugs later with the vegetables.

But what I love about this is that it’s effortless. Place your fingers under the nozzle, and the sensor dollops the soap onto your hand. No slippery bar to fuss with; no lightweight pump to go flying; and no coordination required at all.

You might want several — it works for lotion, too.

It’s powered by three double A batteries, and pricey at $45.00 (USD) — but not nearly as pricey as actually installing a sensor into your existing plumbing. The 18 ounce capacity means you won’t be refilling it too often, either.

Sensor Soap/Lotion Dispenser from Williams-Sonoma

At Home DIY Everyday Gear Medical Practice

Make A Medical Record Book, Part 3 – Tips and Tricks

In Make a Medical Record Book, Part 1, I described the parts of a medical record book, and in Make a Medical Record Book, Part 2, how to use it at a medical office. Here are some additional tips and tricks for making your medical notebook as useful as possible.

At Home DIY Games/Recreation

DIY – Guitar or Banjo Pick Adapted for Large Knuckles

Image of Various Guitar Picks, Including Metal OnesArthritis and other joint problems can cause enlarged or swollen knuckles, making it difficult to keep a guitar (or banjo) pick on the finger. I adapted a steel pick like the ones shown here (on the right in the picture) so that my dad could keep playing his instruments a little longer.

My ‘fix’ is a little crude, but it worked well for Dad. I bought two metal picks, and used pliers to bend the ‘pick’ portion on one (that would be the blade part, not the band) back and forth until it broke off. (I made sure to bend it so that the rougher edge would be on the outside of the band, not next to Dad’s finger.) This left me with a ring-like band.

At Home Home Modifications

A Kinder, Gentler (Rubber) Wheelchair Ramp

We used portable metal wheelchair ramps for my dad‘s visits to the house, and they’ve worked well for us. We needed a rather long ramp, so our options were limited. In other situations, I’d have much preferred a rubber threshold ramp instead — every time we moved our portable ramps I worried that the metal edges would catch and maul a door, the side of the house, or our hardwood floors. Rubber ramps would be kinder to anything they accidentally encountered — and, I suspect, hose off more easily as well.

At Home DIY Everyday Gear Medical Practice

Make A Medical Record Book, Part 2 – How to Use It

In a previous post, I described the components of the medical notebooks I use for my dad and family. The notebook comes along on every medical appointment, and this is how I use it.

Before each appointment, I fill out a form I made on my computer and printed up in advance. It’s my Medical Appointment Record form, which goes in Section 2. I’ve typed in cues on the page (date, doctor’s name, current symptoms, any questions or concerns). Before we go, I fill in the blanks. This ensures that we have a clear idea of what we want to know and that we’re organized and able to use the appointment time effectively.

At Home Everyday Gear

A Simple Cell Phone

Image of a Jitterbug PhoneAfter one of my dad’s early back surgeries, part of his rehabilitation program was to walk in the neighborhood. Because he was prone to falling, and under doctor’s orders not to get up on his own if he took a tumble, we got him a cell phone to take on his meanderings. He carried it around for a while after I left the west coast, and then turned it back in. He just didn’t get the concept, and thought the phone was a pain to use. The keys were too small and unreadable; the icons impossible to interpret; it did so many distracting things that he could hardly figure out how to dial 911.

At Home Books Everyday Gear

Another Book of Homemade Adaptations

Image of the book Adapt My WorldAdapt My World is a book born of love and creativity. The author’s daughter had medical problems from birth; the disabilities she has had to grapple with inspired the “homemade adaptations” her mother writes about.

I wish I could say that I loved the book. In spirit, it’s much like what GearAbility is about — fixes, adaptations and work-arounds for everyday life. As a book, though, it’s quite a disappointment.