Playing cards is a favorite pastime for many people, and a fine way to spend time companionably during a nursing home or sick room visit when conversation lags. Depending on the game, even very young children and adults of all abilities can join in.
The 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.
Visits to a nursing home are a critical component of caring for a resident, and rewarding for everyone involved. There’s no denying, though, that they can be difficult as well. If the visits are daily, the difficulties compound — how do you make the time interesting rather than dull and repetitious? Conversation can falter, imagination fail. How do you make interactions mentally stimulating?
Ah, IKEA, how did we ever manage without you? On our last visit we picked up another one of those basic essentials for good living — a long-handled shoehorn. No household is complete without one — but IKEA, as ever, carries the idea one (dare I say it?) step better: This shoehorn is a serpent. Turn it so that the hook faces you and you’ll be looking directly into the snakely visage. A shoehorn with a sense of humor — it’s what the world needs now.
Omsorg Shoehorn at IKEA (it’s on the Singapore site, but in stock, this week at least, in Plymouth Meeting in the good old US of A).
Blondie, my dad’s loyal companion, got a Christmas present herself this year: Oscar, a Golden Retriever puppy from the same company that made Blondie. Oscar (that’s the name Dad chose — on the website, the Douglas Company shows the same puppy named ‘Bella’) is full of spunk and personality. His arrival has sparked a lot of conversation — Blondie was clearly nonplussed when this little upstart showed up. But she’s learned to defer to the obstreperous youngster, and they’re fast pals now.
After years of faithful service, my dad’s old reaching tool finally bit the dust when the grabbing blades somehow got twisted sideways, probably in an encounter between a power chair and the wall.
A couple of weeks ago, I picked this one up as a replacement. The central rod is gold-colored metal — yes, it’s a “Golden Retriever.” On the face of it, this was a natural for Dad — just the phrase ‘Golden Retriever’ pleases him immensely. On a more practical note, though, Dad prefers this grabber’s handle to the pistol-style of the old one. The Golden Retriever handle is kind of U-shaped — you put your hand into the U, with your thumb around a bar across the top. You pull a lower bar with your fingers to close the grabber. Very little pressure is required.
The flat grip, as opposed to the pistol-style grip, seems to give my dad a greater sense of control. (Although I’m not sure he’d feel the same way if he were reaching for cans on an overhead shelf — I think most people might prefer the pistol grip in that case.) The packaging says that you can pick up a dime with it. I haven’t tried that, but it does pick up a nickel from industrial carpeting, which I thought was a pretty neat trick.
Whether it can stand up to less-than-delicate use by dad remains to be seen, but I’m betting it will. The construction is solid, and the gripper arms look carefully designed, with sturdy fittings. Because it’s flat (the grabbers aren’t at right angles to the handle, as they are in the pistol-grip style), it’s easier to store, too, and, as a result, might be less likely to be squashed by an errant wheelchair.
Golden Retriever at ArfArf.com (I kid you not!)
Dad also has a different Golden Retriever companion at his nursing home — read about her here
They’re not cheap, but wah-hoo, are they fun! Is your wheelchair looking ho-hum? Does someone you love need a really original gift? Spokeguard Art may be the answer.
If not, you’ll still have a blast checking out all these wheelchair spoke guards — categories include designs for children’s wheelchairs, animal-lovers, space-fiends, former flower children, sports fanatics and more.
Don’t let the home page scare you — the rest of the site’s much better designed. It’s also friendly, but a little amateurish — and there’s no indication of shipping costs. You might want to email or call before making a commitment.
When medicine and my dad first collided, it was a shock to him. His attitude toward his medical problems was, well, consumerist. He’d buy surgical services, and the surgeons would fix everything. End of story.