Living life on wheels means you have to be creative when it comes to reaching things. Sometimes, I’m just too short, and other times, I’m just too tall. I know, it seems contradictory. But the thing is, when things are on high shelves, it’s easy enough for me to raise my wheelchair up to iLevel and grab what I need. But picking things up off the floor or reaching things in front of or behind me can be pretty challenging. So, I use some helpful life hacks and tools to make things easier.
The first hack is something I know many other disabled people do, too. Lots of people use grabbers or reaching sticks, but I’m a big fan of kitchen tongs. There are multiple pairs in my house and I never travel without them. The TSA has definitely had a few questions for me when I bring tongs through security. But if I drop a pill on the floor or need to reach down to push off my shoes, tongs definitely come in handy. Instead of bending down and risking a fall, the tongs do the work for me.
I’m also a really big fan of my telescoping magnetic pick-up tool. I know that’s a mouthful, but it’s just a stick with a magnet on the end that extends. I frequently drop jewelry while trying to put it on, so having something that to grab small metal objects easily is incredibly useful.
And then, there’s the combination magnetic reaching tool/grabber that I keep in my car. It’s the best of both worlds and a total lifesaver. Sometimes I drop my car keys and the magnetic part of the grabber makes it easier to pick them up. But more often than not, I end up dropping my entire purse and things fall out all over the place, so I need both the magnet and the grabber tool at once.
While picking things up tends to be the bane of my existence, doors can also be a pain. My mom came up with a really clever method of using a dressing stick that she got during physical rehabilitation after surgery and repurposing it as a door-closing tool. This one is my personal favorite because I never would’ve thought of it myself. The dressing stick is a just a wooden handle with a long plastic loop on the end. You can hook the loop onto door handles and pull to close them. It’s as simple as that!
Using a combination of adaptive tools and household items can make life a whole lot easier for wheelchair users. But I want to acknowledge that I completely understand these particular tricks or tools may not work for everyone. That said, I bet if you look around at what you have, you’ll be able to come up with a life hack or two of your own to help with difficult tasks. For me, with my iLevel and my arsenal of tools, almost nothing is out of reach – literally!