I don’t have arthritic hands (yet), but the things that annoy me most on a daily basis are light switches. Ours are the ones that snap when they get pushed. When they get pushed hard, that is. Try pushing one of those babies when you’ve got a plate of crackers-and-cheese in one hand and a glass of juice in another. Pow — the wall needs washing and the crackers are a-slippin’. Even without arthritis, I don’t have an iota of the strength required to control the awesome power of a sprung light switch.
No-Slip Fleece Socks are just the right thing when warmth is the major consideration, but sometimes a true slipper is what’s needed. For feet that can change size during the course of a day or a week, a slipper that wraps gently, expanding and contracting accordingly, is an excellent solution.
The men’s version of this slipper is available in both terry cloth and berber fleece from The Vermont Country Store. The women’s comes only in terry, but in a wider range of colors than those for the guys.
I bought a pair of these for my dad when he couldn’t wear his sheepskin slippers any longer. At first I worried that the open toe wouldn’t be warm enough, but that wasn’t a problem; the air circulation was great for his toenails, and the bit of extra room good for his toes.
Related: Soothing Adjustable Slippers
Call buttons and bed controls are a critical part of nursing home life. For someone like my dad, who is able to manage these on his own, using them is one manifestation of independence. He can request that someone come to his room, rather than passively waiting, and he can adjust his bed without any help.
Douglas also has a large offering of the curly ‘kohair’ pets. I admit I’m not crazy about them (I like my animals to look very much like the real thing), but even I realize that the kohair fabric is extra soft.
Writing has become difficult for my dad, and he does very little of it these days. After Christmas, though, he wanted to write short replies to a number of Christmas cards. It was difficult for him to hold on to the paper, so I rigged up a fat rubber band to hold it on his writing table.
It’s winter, and the house is cold, especially at night — and nothing is colder than my feet. What I long for, on these cold evenings, is the perfect pair of socks. I want the lovely woolly ones that are soft and dreamy. Sadly, fuzzy socks threaten to kill me with every step I take.
Adults who enjoy coloring books don’t have to settle for the horrid pap that’s often handed out to children. Dover Publicatons offer an amazing line of truly thrilling coloring books.
Much to everyone’s surprise, my dad not only survived his transfer from the west coast to a nursing home on the east coast, but he thrived. It wasn’t long before I began looking for ways to get him out and about — not just to doctors, but so that he could get to know the area around the home and have at least a bit of the sense of freedom that he had had when living at home.
One of the everyday aids I did see at WCD Expo was the PikStik Pro. A reacher — essentially a stick with a clamp-like grabber on one end — has been an essential part of my dad’s life for many years now. It’s not just a convenience, but a matter of safety and well-being — over-balancing is definitely not good for Dad!
Come to think of it, just about every household could use a reacher or two in strategic places.
I’ve used lots of reachers that handle chunky stuff (think cans, etc.) but this is the first one I’ve used successfully for a situation requiring a more deft touch.
Using it, I was able to lift a business card repeatedly from a flat, hard counter with no trouble at all — the tips are ‘grippy’ and more sensitive than those on the heavier duty reachers.
For those finer pick-up tasks (pens, pencils, pieces of paper, a comb, etc.), this could be a great solution. It’s available on Amazon and comes in various lengths.
As my dad checked into a rehab hospital after spinal surgery several years ago, I noticed a woman down the hall who was preparing to check out. Actually, it was her companion who caught my eye — a nearly full-sized Golden Retriever: a beautiful stuffed animal perched alertly and affectionately at the foot of her bed.
Dad had lost his beloved companion of 14 years — a loving Golden named Amber — not long before, so my mandate was clear. I learned from his neighbor that her Golden had been made by the Douglas Company of Keene, New Hampshire, and a quick jump to their site let me identify the name and model number. An Internet search turned up a store, and Blondie (as she was quickly named) joined my dad in the rehab hospital.
It’s almost impossible to describe the effect her arrival had on my dad. She’s been his constant and loyal companion ever since. Blondie has been there to smooth the way as he’s moved to new hospitals, to Assisted Living, and, more recently, to his nursing home.
When my dad and I flew from the west coast to the east coast in an air ambulance, Blondie was squashed into the flying tube with us and the medical team — keeping watch at my dad’s feet. As a result she was with him from the first moment he was in his new nursing home.
Blondie has also been an amazing ice-breaker — everyone wants to ‘meet’ her, and to talk about her. Her proud ‘Daddy’ basks in the glow of all this attention; he’s never been “that new patient in room whatever.” Everybody knows who Blondie and her Daddy are.
We sometimes talk about Blondie when I visit him, and he frequently lovingly shakes a paw. She’s clearly a companion — my dad always has a friend in his room, even when no people are around.
I don’t see Blondie on the Douglas Toy site, but Sherman (pictured right) could be her younger brother, and he’s clearly all Golden — ready to love anyone on a moment’s notice.
Blondie and Sherman are big dogs — Sherman is 32 inches long, and I suspect Blondie is even a little larger — so they aren’t necessarily the right choice for every dog-lover. Most of the Douglas Toys are exceptional for an uncanny likeness to real life, though, and they do cover all the bases from little 6 inch puppies on up to the likes of Blondie and Sherman.
Sherman will set you back a hefty hundred dollars at his regular retail price, although I see that at least one Internet store has him for around seventy-five dollars. Never fear, though, Douglas has puppies for far, far, less, too — all of them as heart-meltingly sweet as Blondie and Sherman.
See also: Love, Imagination and Human Interaction