Life Hacks for Reaching

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!