Making my life more accessable for my disability...
June 4, 2016 9:46 PM   Subscribe

Now that I have a disabled placard and use a cane on a semi-permanent basis I've come to the conclusion that it is time to person-up! and accept that I need to make and accept accommodations in my life to support my breaking body. Looking for suggestions of things I can buy/utilize that will make daily living less of a struggle. Considering the details inside what are the key things I should be doing to make this life easier on myself?

The main problems lay in my left hip/quad and lower back w/ definite muscle loss on that side and intense pain. Added on top is fibromyalgia with it's fun trio of fatigue and chronic pain and brain fog. Oh, and also am developing arthritis in my hands and have weak upper body strength.

I struggle in the following ways;
- standing in one place longer than 2 mins thus making cooking hard
- getting in and out of my car when the weak leg is the one I lead with
-sitting in the car for longer than 10 mins (I can manage the 50 mins to my dr appts but its a killer)
-opening jars, milk containers, cans etc.
- getting in and out of the bathtub;( too nervous to use the shower since I slipped and gave myself a black eye)
- carrying anything more than 2lbs on my left side (grocery shopping how???)
-taking care of a dog when having no yard (exercising/peeing solutions?)
-walking longer than 5 minutes without needing to rest
-navigating more than 5 stairs becomes an Everst expedition (safety tips for walking with a cane up and down?)
-doing household chores that require some sort of effort like changing bed
-Overheating. Any time spent in the sun feels like a severe burn for the rest of the day

What solutions have you found that you now can't live without? Bonus for anything that leans away from elderly/womanly as I'm a young(ish) trans person and that can be bought online.

And now the extreme following parameters which will make it seem like I'm knocking down most of your ideas:
I live in poverty. For reals!! I have a bit of money from an estate that I can spend on this but cannot afford to hire help (nor qualify for help at this point). I'm looking for more investment pieces than just temp fixes cause what is happening to my body is looking like a permanent thing!

Please help me fellow differently abled mefites!
posted by kanata to Health & Fitness (31 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I spend time with someone who successfully and daily uses a cane seat.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 10:05 PM on June 4, 2016

First, good on you for getting organized and planning it out. Having been a bit in your shoes a while I empathize.

I found bar stools at a garage sale. I sit on them as I cook in the kitchen to rest.

When my family member broke her leg she tried getting in from the passenger side but ultimately used a cane. I live in a retirement area and the dealerships here sell handle like things you hook in your door to help you in and out of the car; open door, hook thingy, get in, take off thingy, close door.

Opening jars. I'd wreck them. Get stuff to open them and don't close them. For milk or otherwise things that should stay sealed a serving jug you can handle better than a milk bag.

Tub - look at walkers and safety seats. I installed grab bars in my shower, use mats, and chairs.

Shopping - get a personal grocery cart.

Overheating. Heat or uv exposure? I spent some big bucks on a good uv hat, light jacket, light scarf, and pants. Worth every penny. All knit. All light. I get warm but not burned. I keep cool with wet kerchiefs and stuffing frozen oranges in my bra. Coolibar is the brand I buy online but there are supposed to be several good brands.

That's all I got. I was limited a bit myself and did a lot of these things then and got rid of things I couldn't handle any more like carrying my cast iron pans. My kid have trouble with bedsheets so I bought the twin a twin xl and the full a queen set. Looser and easier to change.
posted by tilde at 10:10 PM on June 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

From experience with a family member with similar disabilities:

Getting in and out of a car: a swivel cushion could help. If a car with bucket seats then generally a flat, firm cushion that raises you to the rim of the bucket might help. I'm small and have to climb my way out of bucket seats, it would be much harder with the disabilities you describe.

Baths: getting in and out remained and grew as an issue with my relative, so from that experience I would suggest getting a bath chair (or a sturdy plastic chair or even an old wooden chair with arms which you are comfortable getting in and out of) and a good non-slip floor covering, and using that in your shower space.

A walker with a seat might help in terms of providing a place you can rest whilst walking, as well as put small amounts of groceries. Of course it depends on the surface you are walking across, and if your specific disability allows you to use a walker. It may not work well with balance issues, for example.

Otherwise, good investment pieces are going to be solid rails in your bathroom and up your staircase, as well as other areas inside and outside your home where you might need additional support in the future (eg corridors, near seats, etc).

Bedsheets: when I injured my hands, fitted sheets were impossible to use, whereas flat sheet could at least be spread out over the mattress and tucked in later when my hand had recovered.

I am familiar with disability aids in the UK, not the US, so won't link to specifics. Many of the specific issues you have are common amongst elderly folks so I would suggest that you look at charities that assist, or sell subsidised mobility and living aids for, that group even if you don't fall in it. You are likely to get good recommendations for, eg, inexpensive and sturdy aids to help open jars or pick up things from the floor.
posted by tavegyl at 10:12 PM on June 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

My friend is an occupational therapist. The first thing she would recommend for you are bathtub/shower grab bars and a seat. If you own your home and can afford it, she would also tell you to put in a shorter tub, as opposed to a soaker tub, and, with a bigger budget, put in a walk-in tub/shower. She always tells me that this is the absolute biggest safety hazard she sees for clients.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 10:13 PM on June 4, 2016 [2 favorites]

Jar openers are great - I have one similar to this one. If you search online, there are a variety of styles, but the basic concept is to increase your leverage plus avoid needing to grip the lid.

If you don't have a nonslip mat in your bathtub, I recommend getting one. I bought one when I was pregnant and my balance was terrible - it really helps to not have a slippery surface. Depending on your balance/strength, you might also like a shower chair or shower stool.
posted by insectosaurus at 10:14 PM on June 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

For getting in and out of the car, something to help push or pull you up. (Not vouching for those brands.)
posted by Room 641-A at 10:20 PM on June 4, 2016

I have so much respect for your proactive stance, kanata :)

- Definitely invest in a shower seat.
- To make changing the bed easier, consider going minimal with just a fitted sheet and a twin duvet (in a duvet cover). I'm a little exhausted lately from a health issue and making a traditional bed is way too much for me -- the sheet/single duvet is working perfectly. It's the perfect size. Mine was on clearance at IKEA. Also after washing, it's so much easier to put a duvet cover on a twin/single than on a queen sized one.
- Your dog. Can you make it to the nearest tree and back? After a few visits, your dog will recognize that as the potty tree.
posted by mochapickle at 10:30 PM on June 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you're in an area with public transit:

Research your local public transit systems, and see if they have a Disabled Pass/Reduced Fare Permit that you can apply for and get. Some even have a door to door paratransit service. Since you have a car, you may never need to use it - but if your car breaks? You're already in their system, and can start using it at any time.
posted by spinifex23 at 10:52 PM on June 4, 2016

When I broke a leg and went to rent some gear for the recovery, one thing they had was a cane that folds open into a three legged stool. It was not very expensive and did provide a place to rest when exhausted on the go.
posted by Cozybee at 11:36 PM on June 4, 2016

Yes, seconding the Stander handy bar and a handle for the car window frame. The handy bar especially is amazingly sturdy and allows you to push against the weight of the car with your upper body and lever. Pretty much every car has the "stinger" used to latch it. I kept thinking, "I've never noticed such a thing, I don't think my car has that." Nope, it does.

Also seconding a shower seat, and adding installation of grab bars and non-slip surface for stepping in and out of tub. If you have some money to invest/ability to make changes to your house, you could consider installing a shower stall or a walk-in tub to minimize fall risk by eliminating the step-over of the tub.

There are also electric armchairs that help you raise into a standing position if getting up from a seated position is challenging.

For resting while walking, would you consider using a rollator walker? These are walkers with a built-in seat that can be used to carry things when you aren't sitting. So you could walk, rest, walk, rest, etc. I'm not sure it would be perfect for you bc the getting up and down can be strenuous but they are available for between 50 and 200 dollars, so might be worth a try. My uncle's has a camo drink holder/seat back on the front, and some are kind of rugged looking. They definitely read less elderly than their aluminum tennis ball feet cousins.

In general I would say be willing to try things- a lot of accessibility is trial-and-error and finding the right fit for your life. If you can, don't get too discouraged if the first piece of equipment you try isn't perfect for you. The next version will be slightly different and might be perfect. I hope you find a lot of gearhear that you love!
posted by Snarl Furillo at 11:51 PM on June 4, 2016

In addition to considering a can with a seat, you might look at a rollator. I recently got one and am finding it really useful. Bad seating really does a number on me, as does standing for more than a couple of minutes, and the rollator's wide seat is actually surprisingly comfortable. I've used it to sit in wheelchair seating at a couple of concerts recently, and wracks me up less than the theater seating would have. Because of where my pain it, is also makes walking easier for me. Since you're getting around with a cane, you might find a rollator more unwieldy than you want to deal with, but it's been a big help for me.

A woman I used to know who had a weak leg would tie a wide strap to her waistband and her foot or shoe (I'm not sure exactly how she did it). When she had to get in or out of a car or other seat, or lift her weak leg onto a step, she'd use that strap to pull it. It was something she'd made for herself but it was clearly very functional for her.
posted by not that girl at 11:52 PM on June 4, 2016

Shower chair for certain. Everyone should have one! They are awesome.

Jar opener like this?

For carrying and shopping, the invaluable granny cart. Don't let the term put you off. They come in a huge range of prices and are extremely useful. And if the one you get is sturdy it can double as a support and walking assist. Loop a lanyard or lace around the top to hold your cane so your hands are both free but you still have it nearby.

Overheating - a white hat with a brim can make a huge difference. If you can find one that meshes with your desired presentation that would be fantastic. Straw hats are often relatively cheap and light colored enough to keep the heat off. Light colored baseball caps are often available in thrift shops if you're not picky about logo or team affiliation. It might seem anti-intuitive, like, why would you put something on your head when it's hot?? But look at desert cultures. As a super-pale sweaty Texan, trust me. White hat.

Your dog is a real sticking point. Since you don't have a yard and they really need outside time every day beyond just a quick visit to the pee-bush or whatever, you've got a dilemma. Do you have any skills you could barter in exchange for a neighbor taking your dog out? Are there super doggy people nearby who, upon hearing of your plight, would offer to take them out with their dogs on a walk? If you're up to it, headspace-wise, you could contact various local petsitters and dog walkers and explain your situation and ask if there's any way you could strike a deal or anybody who knows anybody etc etc. If there is an area within a short car ride that your dog can be leash-free, you could train them to expect a short visit there regularly, and then you'd need to go from wherever you can park to the leash-free zone, but then you could sit while the dog runs around. Ball launchers like this are super effective at making a terrible throw into a great one - I think they sell them for non-pet purposes too and you could probably DIY one with a few cheap kitchen tools and duct tape, but if your dog will actually bring the ball back to you, this would be a way to help with fatigue once you've got your dog situated somewhere they can be off-leash.

A thing that really shifted how I looked at assistive devices was someone pointing out how a lot of the as-seen-on-tv products you see cheesy ads for late at night with shockingly inept people botching regular activities are actually awesome gadgets for disabled people to have more physical independence.


This electric nail grinder is a nice way for arthritic people (or someone with only one hand, or a tremor) to do their own nail grooming. It's twenty USD. You can find it on ebay for about five dollars. There are other brands and form factors. But the ad, oh man. These people shouldn't be around butter knives let alone something with a motor and a blade. I laugh at these sorts of ads but it sure does nothing to combat pervasive abelism.

Then often you can find simpler versions of these tv-ad items already for sale, but they can be harder to find. This nail clipper uses basic physics to make the clipping easier without a battery and is specifically marketed towards people with arthritis. It's currently on sale for ten USD.

My point being, keep your eyes open for things marketed to that as seen on tv crowd that are secretly things that can help you. They often go on clearance, or they end up as free extras with other items and then go to ebay for super cheap. Copycats pop up and they might not be exactly the same but they can help out the same actual reason for the product existing. Or they could be needlessly complex versions of simpler things that are already out there marketed towards a demographic you aren't a part of.
posted by Mizu at 12:53 AM on June 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

I have insurance so this may not be an option for you. Having an Occupational Therapist come to your house and do a safety evaluation is very helpful. I had it done after receiving physical therapy. PT suggested it to my DR who then ordered it. OT came to my house, looked at my bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, and car. They gave me some items like a picker upper thing that I use a lot and a couple of other items but even more importantly they gave me great ideas on how to stay safe, conserve energy and put me in touch with some community programs that I had no idea existed. The one I used more than once was in CA high school students have to do some kind of community service before they can graduate. OT put me in contact with the person at the high school who arranged their placement and hours. They came to my house and worked in my yard or walked my dogs. I don't know if you could use a program like that for your dog but it would be an option.

The things I do:
Rollator instead of cane when outside of my house.
Electric cart in market and stores
Neighbor kid walks my dog when I am to ill to walk him myself. I pay her 2.50 for a 20 minute walk/play session.
Shower chair/hand held shower head.
Picker upper thing
I try to stay in during the hottest time of the day, scheduling appoints when I will be at my best, which can vary from day to day.
I always have easy to eat food on hand and a good variety of healthy snacks in case I am to tired to even heat soup. Having variety helps.
Remind myself that resting is doing something productive.
I do volunteer work from home.

Good for you for being so proactive. Hope some of what I shared is helpful to you.
posted by cairnoflore at 12:55 AM on June 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

I keep a stool in the center of the kitchen, and do a lot of kitchen chores while I'm mostly sitting down. For instance I'll unload the dishwasher sitting down, stacking the glasses in each other and setting them all on the counter, then I only have to stand long enough to take the glasses from the counter and put them in the cupboard. Saves me a lot of standing and bending. I also use the stool to take breaks when cooking stuff. When a pot is boiling or the microwave is going around, I'm on the stool pronto. (I also rarely do anything more complicated than microwaving or boiling.)

I was going to suggest paying some neighborhood kid a few bucks to walk your dog. Your pup really needs to get out regularly.

If Uber is a possibility in your area, look into it. I've only used it a little, but given how expensive parking and gas can be you may sometimes find that Uber is cheaper AND you have somebody else to drive you! (If just sitting itself is what makes driving hard, I guess being a passenger won't help that as much... but at least you could kind of stretch out in the backseat.) My aging parents have been using Uber lately, and they're crazy about it.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:40 AM on June 5, 2016

OP, I see you're in Canada, so resources may differ, but here there are state and private organizations that will provide many home improvement for free, like grab bars, shower seats, and even ramps. If you rent, check if your landlord is required to provide "reasonable" accommodations (grab bars, higher toilet seats) or allow you to pay for more extensive accommodations.

One note about walkers: if you need one do check with your medical team about the style with a seat. My mother was given a rickety aluminum walker and I came along and "upgraded" her to a much nicer, sturdier walker with a seat, basket, etc. Her doctor told me that it was much too fast for her, which is why he gave her the other kind (facepalm.) The nurse later told me to put tennis balls on the back wheels to slow it down, but point being, ask if it matters in your case.
posted by Room 641-A at 4:20 AM on June 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

I have minor left hip arthritis and I trained myself to exit the car by swiveling myself sideways both legs together and getting up that way, as opposed to putting one leg out. Imagine you're wearing a miniskirt and the paparazzi are waiting.
posted by matildaben at 4:54 AM on June 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

You are probably on top of this already, and it completely depends on location, but anything that can be switched to delivery instead of buying at a store will help, especially heavy stuff like clothes detergent. Grocery delivery here is really hit or miss, great in a few cities and mostly unavailable or expensive elsewhere, but again, if it is a reasonable option, that is one less errand every week. Some pharmacies will deliver also.

If you own (or have a responsive landlord), do all the basic accessibility things possible, using ideas from universal design, like the grab bars mentioned above, better door handles, and so on. If you have a bigger budget, there is a lot that can be done with bathroom and kitchen design, but that isn't cheap.

Would having one of those electric mobility scooters make things like dog walking easier? I have seen many very happy dogs trotting along next to a scooter.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:47 AM on June 5, 2016

Another low tech technique - put a plastic bag on the car seat before you sit down. Makes it much easier to swivel on your bum, with your legs together, when you get in and out. Or put the plastic bag on a pillow for height.

Good on you for asking for suggestions! You adult you! Plus other people will be helped by all the answers.
posted by mgrrl at 6:42 AM on June 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Also, the position the cane handle makes you hold your hands and wrists in can make a big negative or positive difference. So there might be improvements you can make to the cane you are using that might help with your hand pain. I used special crutches before and after I had surgery on my dysplastic hips. You can find canes by searching for 'ergonomic canes'.
posted by mgrrl at 6:48 AM on June 5, 2016

Depending on the size of your dog something like this might be useful.


You would still need to supervise, but would only have to walk out to the yard and clip the dog on, them sit down and watch. I would suggest using it wth a harness not a collar.

A lot of exercise can be done inside, again depending on your dogs breed and size.. Simple dog training, interesting dog toys, simply throwing a squeaky toy around for them, brain work tires out dogs too and stops them getting bored and can be done in short give five minute bursts as you have the energy, or even while sitting.

Also nthing a shower seat and rail in the shower. You may also want a rail by the toilet if you have trouble getting up and down. I'm from Australia and I know there are charities there that will help in situations like this, you may have something similar in Canada.
posted by wwax at 6:55 AM on June 5, 2016

Would having one of those electric mobility scooters make things like dog walking easier? I have seen many very happy dogs trotting along next to a scooter.

Excellent idea! I have a friend with MS who just got a new one scooter and they're much more compact and stylish these days. He has one similar to this. My mom's friend also has a compact scooter and when her little dog get tired on his walks he rides along on the floorboard. It could also be useful if you often travel short-ish distances for errands and things.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:09 AM on June 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh, yeesh, I really empathise with a lot of what you've got going on. Sorry -- not a lot of fun, I know...

The Black and Decker "Lids Off" machine is the ne plus ultra of jar lid removers. Keep an eye out for a second-hand one. I have other lid-removing gizmos, but the "Lids Off" ALWAYS works, unlike the manual ones. (Except it doesn't like stuff like glass juice bottles -- too tall, and too narrow a lid doesn't work, so I hang on to the manual ones.)

If my car did not have heated seats I would buy the things that go in your car over the seat and plug in to the cigarette lighter to heat the seat; this makes a huge difference in how much time I can spend sitting in a car.

Lower your expectations/hopes for tidiness -- let pet hair pile up, don't make your bed; anybody who wishes to judge should be shown the broom or the linen closet and be cheerfully told to have at it. will deliver any purchase to your local post office for free, and will deliver orders over $50 to your door. The site is pretty badly done (one flavour of juice will be available in-store only; another from the same brand will ship; it's just a bit of a mess) but it is worth the small navigational hassles to get heavy stuff plonked down on my porch. Like fun I'm ever lifting juice and cat litter again...

Do your friends understand your situation? I would not survive without help (and like you, I am in what my doctor called a "grey area" -- I would be eligible for help if I was 65+ or could not bathe myself &c -- if you are a younger person who is just a little bit of a cripple, well, whatever, go suffer, sorry you can't work enough to pay for help -- it's a stupid, stupid system; the only benefit is a parking permit). Like, friends and family will show up and say "Do you need anything done?" and the answer is "Yeah, I need the cat litter taken up to the third floor." Friends and family are probably my greatest resource.

There is a cheap, "as seen on TV!" gizmo called the "Pasta Boat," which is just a plastic container that holds spaghetti and water. You put it in your microwave and ignore it for 22 minutes. Sometimes it might be a little inferior to the stovetop results, but given how little standing one has to do, I'm fine with the "Pasta Boat" results and you should eventually figure out that your microwave needs, say, 21min 32sec for your X brand pasta and get good results.
posted by kmennie at 8:30 AM on June 5, 2016

Straw hat good. White hat better. Highly rated Spf scarf and hat of any color the best.

Also for cooking: veggie steamer. Lighter than a crock pot. Easier to clean. IKEA silicone oven mitts.
posted by tilde at 8:52 AM on June 5, 2016

You can make cheap tools that improve your life!

Homemade soft props make any position more comfortable as seen on Flickr. When a particular body part is tender, I'll place a prop nearby to lift sorest part away from contact with chair, bed, driver's seat. They're easy to shift around as the pain moves. The smaller ones feel great as neck support in bed. The larger ones provide a "desk" for laptop/book in my lap.

Important design elements: super soft, no buttons, variety of sizes. I started with hideous-pattern polarfleece remnants, then folded and rolled them to discover the sizes that work for me (holding folds in place with rubber bands/safety pins). Once I decided on size, friends made simple tube pillowcase with permanent drawstring close on both ends and inserted & smoothed fleece inside.

Bathrooms are super dangerous places! I broke my ankle falling while brushing my teeth; only one foot, crutches, fibro = horrible combo. DON'T PUT YOUR WEIGHT ON TOWEL RACKS! Sources of used "home health" equipment: Estate sales, resale shops (Sally Ann), impairment-specific groups (ALS, MD, MS, heart/lung support), Independent Living Center. Most of this equipment is available used and doesn't wear out.

Before you win lottery to install grab bars, get used walker/quad cane to leave in bathroom. Yes it will be tight, but those tools provide safe places to hold on to. Super cheap shower chair: a narrow "plastic" resin chair at garage sale/Craigslist. Use saw/serrated knife to cut legs to your comfortable sitting height plus two inches. (That way your knees have an easier job lowering & rising.) No handheld shower? Place small bucket under tap, get hot water, use 2-cup measure to pour over yourself.

Contact high school, scouts, churches for kids needing to fulfill "service learning" hours.

Shopping: give very small cloth bags to checkout. Tell them you have back problems (easier to understand). Ask staff to put bags in your car/trunk. At home, spread bringing in bag over one or four hours.

Feel free to memail me.
posted by Jesse the K at 9:36 AM on June 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

Bathing - shower chair is well covered. Re-iterating hand-held shower head (so you can wash hair). This is $70 new from home depot, just do it.

Car - swivel and stand on two legs as suggested above. Investigate wheelchair-grade seat cushions to raise hips above knees to see if this makes long car rides more tolerable.

Cooking - many great suggestions above. I also suggest a food processor to minimize chopping. Your long term TCO may be lower than for buying pre-chopped/pre-grated things. Unless, of course, you would like to change your vegetable diet to frozen vegetables, then none of this is necessary.

Cleaning - you need help, bartering is a great suggestion.

Ergonomics - if you are going to spend more time seated in the kitchen, rearrange things so that you minimize reaching above shoulder height from a seated position. Counter height is an overhead reach from a rollator chair. Get a lower table for working, preferably a cart on wheels so you can more easily move prepped items around (this will also help with unloading groceries).

Stairs - "up with the good, down with the bad".
To go up the stairs - stand with two feet on ground. Hold hand rail with one hand, cane in other. Step up with your good leg. Advance your cane to the next step and slide your hand forward on the handrail. Then step up with your bad leg to the same step. With two feet now on the same stair, repeat the process.
To go down the stairs - same start position. Advance the arm, then step down with the bad leg and cane. Follow with the good leg to the same step.
In the event of no handrail, always hold the cane in the hand opposite the weak leg.

Exercise - I see suggestions for the dog upthread but no suggestions for exercise for yourself. Invest in some home equipment to get some exercise. This could be a chair yoga DVD, some light-weight resistance tubing, etc. You can make do with soup cans for weights, books for blocks, etc. If you have enough money for a few sessions with a physiotherapist to create a program for you given your limitations, this is a great place to spend money. The last thing that you want is for the strength that you have to deteriorate.

You also need to be careful about injuries that get created by relying on assistive devices. Using a cane and also reaching high from a seated position are a great recipe for a shoulder injury on your good arm. Consider pro-actively starting with some upper body program to work on your shoulder strength (targeted exercise with soup cans or even just range-of-motion, nothing crazy to start). Stand when you can and walk when you can to maintain what you have. Consider also the remedial glute program with side-lying exercises and bridging. Exercise for you is really, really important and even 5 minutes a day will help.
posted by crazycanuck at 10:40 AM on June 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

  • The mnemonic for remembering which leg to lead with going up and down stairs, per crazycanuck's excellent step-by-step (ha!) instructions, is "The good leg goes to heaven and the bad leg goes to hell."

  • Begin training your dog to have a solid "Back," "Stay" and/or other command that gets him/her out of your way when you're trying to maneuver. Letting your dog prance at your feet at feeding time, for example, sets up a potential accident.

  • Rearrange your cabinets so you can what you need, regardless of where the "right" place for them might be. Consider splitting up categories, e.g., mugs, so there are some accessible at both sitting and standing heights that you can reach without strain.

  • Consider carrying your things (even around the house) in a fanny pack or knapsack to keep your hands free and avoid bearing a weight burden assymmetrically.

  • Those Stander Handy Bar things for getting in/out of the car really are fabulous.

  • posted by carmicha at 11:15 AM on June 5, 2016

    Oh and one more thing: it's garage sale season. A lot of assistive devices can be found at yard and estate sales. Let your friends know what you're looking for or call ahead... it's a way to get stuff on the cheap.
    posted by carmicha at 11:24 AM on June 5, 2016

    Some great suggestions above. I would ask your doctor for an occupational therapy referral to evaluate for aids for mobility and activities of daily living. A good OT knows a LOT about what assistive devices are useful. You could also ask for a PT referral to do a home safety evaluation. They will come to your house and suggest interventions you can make to help make your environment safer, including grab bars and which things might present hazards. It is likely that this would be covered by insurance. Depending on your insurance, the assistive devices may also be covered.
    posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 12:18 PM on June 5, 2016

    Thanks everyone. I thought I had included that I was in an apartment and in Canada but fibro fog must've deleted it. I'm looking into getting my GP to prescribe me things but that requires 1000 hoops to jump in with social services in order to get it covered and months of waiting (at least that's how it works here) so I'm thinking of taking the tiny bit of extra money I have budgeted for health things and just getting them myself. Never thought of looking in the Sally Ann or sales. Or even putting the word out with friends that I'm looking for stuff. Think it revolves around my internal shame about being in this state at 41 (which I'm working on!)

    My bathroom is teeny tiny so won't fit much but I'll look into a shower bar/bath tub bar and seat. And a handheld shower head. Are those easy to install yourselves? As well, are those car steady things easy to use as I struggle already with getting my legs/cane out of a car on a hill with the door keeping falling on me. For the car swivel cushion, do they stay in place? I got a wedge cushion from Walmart and I'm constantly having to pick it up off the ground as it just falls out of the car since the fabric holder broke.

    I definitely appreciate the step by step instructions on doing steps. I've noticed how horrible my town is for disabled people as even my therapy at the woman's centre requires walking up two flights of stairs.

    You've all given me great starting points so thank you very much again!
    posted by kanata at 5:58 PM on June 5, 2016

    Something I don't know if you can get in Canada but maybe someone can get to you.


    One of the things I did when I was rearranging bits of the house to let the kids help more with stuff was put teeny magnets on measuring cups and things that I needed to keep handy. Sugru helps sticking magnets to things. And then you can stick things on the fridge. :)

    The car steady thing easy to use? I dunno. Haven't used them and I live in a very flat place.
    posted by tilde at 5:25 PM on June 9, 2016

    Re-iterating hand-held shower head (so you can wash hair). This is $70 new from home depot, just do it.

    Shop around. You can get a perfectly fine hand-held shower head for under $30US.
    posted by Room 641-A at 8:00 PM on June 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

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