At Home Everyday Gear High Tech

Computing While Reclining

laptop-table.jpgFor people whose computers are almost an extra appendage, time spent in bed can be frustrating and miserable if it means limiting Internet access. Balancing a laptop on a chest or stomach can overheat the machine, and is terrible for hands and wrists.

Laptop Laidback is made for people who prefer to (or must) use laptops while reclining. The table has a broad, stable stance; a ledge holds the laptop in place. Both angle and height are adjustable, and the unit folds flat for storage or transportation.

According to the site, the legs adjust in 5 degree increments — that’s the kind of fine-tuning that can keep wrists and arms happy.

Click on “Product” from the home page for technical information. You’ll need to scroll down to see the full list of specifications.

Thanks, Paul!

Everyday Gear

Inexpensive Aids

walker.jpgWhile picking up some things for my dad, I checked out Wal-Mart’s assistive devices section. At our local store, the selection is small, but notable. There’s a basic array of standard canes — all metal, and all under $20.00 (USD), including a common collapsible one. Next to an assortment of cane tips I saw ski-type nylon walker sliders for a walker at around $6.00 (USD) — or about 1/5 the price I’ve seen at medical supply houses.

Everyday Gear

Collapsible Travel Crutches

Image of a Black and Chrome Travel CrutchCrutches, like eyeglasses, are one of life’s little miracles. So simple, so straightforward, and so very good at what they do. But they’re a pain to travel with — too long and inflexible to stash conveniently anywhere when you’re not using them. The inventive Thomas Fetterman offers a different take on crutches — kind of a Swiss-Army-knife version — so that your trip can be more about the travel than it is about your crutches.

Image of Travel Crutch in a Mesh BagFetterman’s Telescoping Travel Crutches adjust to fit people from 5 feet to 6 feet 6 inches tall, but collapse into a column just 29 inches long — stowable in the overhead compartment in most planes. The configuration is more cane-like than like traditional crutches, with a sleek neoprene underarm pad, and a black foam pistol-style handgrip. They are, according to the website, “sturdy enough to use as full time everyday crutches”, and each crutch can be converted into a cane. The weight limit is 250 pounds; sold with a mesh travel bag.

Veddy, veddy pricey at $195 [USD] per crutch.

Everyday Gear

Countertop Vegetable Cutter for Knife-Free Slicing

Image of a Lever-Style Vegetable CutterCooks who have trouble cutting vegetables might want to take a look at this Jumbo Vegetable Cutter. I find this style of slicer easier (and safer) to use than the better-known mandolines. I haven’t used this particular model myself (though I think there may be one in my future), but there’s a great review up at Econerd Food. Econerd writes:

. . . the vegetable cutter is one of the unsung heroes of my kitchen. It saves both time and labor, it’s easy to clean, and fun to use – making a cool thwapping sound as the veggies are pushed through the blades, ending up in perfect uniform slices. The cutter is actually so powerful that it’s best to do it next to the sink with a big bowl to catch the vegetable projectiles.

Econerd recommends it particularly for chopping mass quantities, but it should do quite well for smaller portions as well. Dexterity is probably not required, but the ability to push down on the lever would be important. This could be an excellent tool for cooks with arthritis or other hand impairments that make chopping difficult. If the suction cups on the bottom are particularly effective, you might need only one hand to do your chopping.

Jumbo Vegetable Cutter, available online at Surfas

Everyday Gear

Flexible Reading Glasses

Image of a Set of Flexible Reading GlassesAfter my dad’s last couple of falls, one of which included a nasty skid across the floor with his face, my spouse and I were bemoaning the dearth of rubber-framed prescription eyeglasses. Rubber would presumably be a lot kinder to dad’s visage than his metal frames. And there’s that other issue — Dad’s titanium glasses have survived an appalling amount of abuse, but do have to be re-configured after the worst of his falls. We’re dreaming of rubber frames that just bounce back.

(Dad, by the way, unlike everyone who cares for him, is completely unbothered by his falls. No matter how dreadful the injury, he’s blissfully unaware of either the hazards or the consequences. Sometimes a high pain tolerance is just not a good thing.)

For others who might like reading glasses with a softish, flexible frame, these Flexies, made by Calabria, might do the trick. We ran across them in a museum shop recently; they’re not truly rubber-like, but the temples and frames do flex nicely. If you’re inclined to fall asleep while wearing your glasses, these might be a lot more comfortable against your face than a conventional pair. At about $20 [USD], they’re quite affordable.

Nontheless, I don’t recommend wearing them for falling. Preventing falls is a better idea, not that the suggestion has worked for Dad.

Available at, but this URL will only work until they change the site next time it’s updated. After that, you’re on your own. Bizarrely, there’s no search function on the website — good luck finding anything specific on your own.

Related: Why You Might Want to Pay $500 For Titanium Eye Glasses

Everyday Gear

Tool for Accessible Tooth-Flossing

Image of a Dental Flosser with a HandleTeeth. They’re kind of the neglected step-children of health. They need brushing; they need flossing. Brushing is less hard — flossing is, well, tricky for just about everybody. Any dentist worth talking to will tell you that flossing is what your gums and teeth need, every day, to stay as healthy as possible. You can tear off a bit of floss, wrap it around two fingers on two hands and then perform acrobatic contortions inside your mouth — or you can try using this flosser.

This neat little tool is designed to be used one-handed, and holds a short bit of floss taut between two little ‘posts’. You slip the floss between your teeth (and behind the very last upper and lower ones) and gently rub. Your dentist or hygienist can show you the exact technique, but it’s common sense: stick close to the surface of your teeth, be gentle, and don’t hurt your gums.

If you help someone else with oral hygiene, this device might make the job much simpler and nicer for everyone involved. The only tricky part? Replacing the little heads the floss is attached to, which either requires some extra dexterity or two hands.

I’ve found that the heads don’t need to be changed daily as long as the flosser is rinsed after use. If you have gum disease or other medical issues affecting your mouth, best to check with your doctor or dentist about replacement frequency, but I just replace mine when they fray or break from use — they’re surprisingly long-lasting.

Reach Access Daily Flosser: available just about anywhere you buy toothbrushes

At Home Everyday Gear

Food Storage Using One Hand

Image of a Lock & Lock Container With Two Removable TraysPlastic containers are probably the most useful food storage device in any kitchen, but if you have only one good hand to work with, opening and closing most of them can be nearly impossible. Lock & Lock makes containers that close with four locking flanges, each operated independently. It’s simple to place the heel of your hand on the top of the container, and use your fingers to open or close each flap.

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

Everyday Gear Good Stuff

Long-Handled Lawn Trimmer

Image of Long-Handled Garden Clippers or Lawn TrimmersDetermined gardeners who find kneeling to trim and clip lawns uncomfortable might like these long-handled clippers. Once quite common (think 1950s-1960s), these babies did the job before motorized weed whackers took over suburbia. That long handle and those little red wheels allow you to snip the grass as you stroll along.

Yes, they’re inefficient, but hey, is there any reason gardening on a nice day should be fast? No gas fumes and no recharging required. No kneeling, either, or unpleasant vibrations shaking your hands and arms.

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