At Home DIY Everyday Gear Medical Practice

Make a Medical Record Book, Part 1 – Putting It Together

Life got a lot simpler for us when I made a medical notebook for my dad. His interest in accurately reporting relevant events and symptoms at any given medical appointment has always been minimal, and some days I was just too frazzled to rely on my own already overclocked brain.

An inexpensive three-ring binder from an office supply store made it much easier to keep information flowing and doctor visits productive. After I made Dad’s, I went home and made one for each member of my family.


DIY — Do-It-Yourself Tricks and Tips

Get near a device that even smells of ‘disability aid’ and you’re also likely to encounter a nasty bit of sticker shock. Here’s a round-up of articles I’ve written recently that suggest DIY tips for vexing life issues that might plague anyone — all of them designed to help avoid ‘disability aid’ price mark-ups.

Elastic Band for Holding Paper/Small Objects on Tray Table

No-Slip Grips for Phones, Remote Controls

Caddy/Holder for Call Button and Bed Controls

No-Slip Fleece Socks

Lever Door Handles

Non-Electric Call Bells

Easy-to-Use Light Switches

Locking Shoelaces

At Home DIY Everyday Gear Home Modifications Wheelchairs

Building a Skinner Air Crib

Image of a Baby Sleeping in a Skinner Air CribI recently wrote about my experiences with B.F. Skinner’s Air Crib (or if you prefer, Baby Boxes). In this post, I’ll share what I remember about how the cribs my daughter and siblings and I used were made.

At Home DIY Everyday Gear Nursing Home

DIY Non-Slip Coating for Everyday Objects

Image of a Plasti Dip CanMy favorite sets of pliers all have a rubbery surface on the handles, making them easy to hold onto while saying rude things to hardware. Ours came that way, but you can use Plasti Dip to add that same grippy surface to nearly any object you want.

Tools are an obvious choice for coating, since holding firmly on to them is critical no matter you’re doing. But a host of other possibilities come to mind if grasp impairment is an issue. Silverware a little slippery? Dip the handles. Juice glass hard to hold? Dip the lower half. Plates a challenge? Dip the edges (and the bottom, to keep them from sliding). Coffee mug inclined to slide? Dip the bottom. Pencils, Pens? Paint a strip of Plasti Dip where fingers go. Dip the handles of scissors, paint the undersides of rulers, dip the handles on crochet hooks, knitting needles and other craft tools. And so on.

The can says it can be used on virtually any surface: “metal, wood, glass, rubber, concrete, fabic, fiberglass, rope” etc.. The directions call for tying the object to a string, and then dipping it into the can, but the fluid can be brushed on as well. There’s a spray version, too.

Plasti Dip comes in blue, yellow, red, black, white, and (wonderfully) clear. Caswell carries all the colors online. Your local big box probably doesn’t — ours only had the red and black, which I found in the paint department at Home Depot.

DIY Home Modifications Wheelchairs

Offset Hinges to Widen Doorways for Walker or Wheelchair Access

Image of Offset HingeThe smallest of my dad’s wheelchairs isn’t especially wide, but it just barely makes it through the kitchen door in our 50 year-old-home. My dad visits us, but if he lived here, the narrow clearance would be a daily inconvenience. Because our walls are lathe-and-plaster, it would be painful, costwise and aesthetically, to widen the doorways by tearing them down.

A less-invasive, easier, and far less expensive alternative is to install offset door hinges. These z-shaped hinges allow the door to swing free of the frame, widening it by approximately 2 inches. They’ll usually replace existing hinges without modification; a little bit of chiseling may be necessary if the plates don’t match perfectly.

You can buy them at Dynamic Living (where you can also read some helpful comments) — local hardware stores may have them in stock as well.

At Home Books DIY Everyday Gear Gifts Nursing Home

Handmade Helps for Disabled Living

Image of Cover of Handmade Helps BookThe other night when my husband was searching our bookshelves for a copy of Eros and Magic in the Renaissance (don’t ask), he found a copy of a marvelous book I’d picked up years ago. Handmade Helps for Disabled Living (by Stuart Grainger) is a compendium of ideas and projects designed to make living with various disabilities easier.

Clothing DIY

Bras That Open in the Front

Image of a Zip-Front BraWhile engaging in one of my least favorite activities the other day — bra shopping — a woman standing next to me began grumbling. She was having surgery next month, and her doctor — male — told her to pick up a front-opening bra. “Where am I going to find one of those?” she asked. “Any store,” he said.

At Home DIY Games/Recreation Gifts Nursing Home

Marble Run for Dexterity and Better Hand Coordination

Image of Wooden Marble Run GamesWhen coordination is difficult, whether from age, injury, surgery or a disability, playing can be the best medicine. These marble run sets are made of wooden blocks with grooves or holes. You stack and arrange the blocks so that marbles roll through them, practicing dexterity all the while.

At Home DIY Everyday Gear Home Modifications Wheelchairs

A Better Baby Crib for Parents Who Use Wheelchairs

Sitting in a Skinner Air CribMaking life better and easier sometimes requires looking at things you accept as perfectly ordinary parts of life and considering them from a completely different perspective. This post is about one of those things — the baby crib you may have slept in when you were little, and the one you may be considering using for your own child.

At Home DIY Home Modifications Nursing Home

Keeping Cords and Phone Lines Off the Floor

3M Mini ClipsThere’s a fair amount of wheeled or semi-wheeled gear in my dad’s room at his nursing home, along with an extra chair that is generally used by guests. Most of this stuff is kept on the far side of the room, so that Dad doesn’t have to fight the gear he’s not using. It’s always a little tricky swapping out the pieces when they’re needed, but I really complicated things when I moved Dad’s phone and ran a line around that part of the room, creating lots of opportunities to get the equipment tangled up with the cord.