As a lifelong wheelchair user, sometimes I don’t recognize that the way I live my life every day is different from how other people live their lives. For example, I don’t carry a purse because it takes up too much room on my lap, so I keep my phone under my leg when I’m sitting in my wheelchair. This little tip is something I always share with new wheelchair users. Because life as a wheelchair user can be hard to adjust to, I thought I would put together some of my favorite wheelchair “life hacks” to help anyone who is still adjusting! So here they are, in no particular order:
Order Drinks in Larger Cups
I always order a small coffee in a large cup, or if I get a cocktail. I’ll ask for it in a taller glass. This is important because it prevents spilling! As wheelchair users, we’re bound to hit little dips in sidewalks or thresholds indoors that will cause our hands to move as we’re holding our precious beverages, but we don’t want to lose a sip or spill on ourselves. We can prevent this by getting our drinks in larger cups!
Use Google Home
Sometimes when it’s been a long day and I have finally transferred out of my wheelchair and into bed, I decide I am too cold but I don’t want to get up to adjust the thermostat. That used to be an issue, but not anymore. Now I just say, “Hey Google, set the thermostat to 68 degrees,” and it’s done! Or if I forgot to lock the door, I just say “Hey Google, lock the door!” It’s great! We’re living in 2020. So, let’s use the technology we’ve got!
Put Your Keys on a Large Carabiner Clip
If you’re anything like me, you are always losing things that you put on your lap for safekeeping. I used to always lose my keys because I would keep them on my lap and then forget they were there when I would transfer in the bathroom or at my car. To stop this from happening, I put my keys on a large carabiner and now can clip the carabiner to my chair. If you’re in a manual wheelchair, you can clip the carabiner to a tube in the front of your chair or sometimes on your brake system. If you use a power chair, you can clip the carabiner to the tubes or wires under your armrest. Now you won’t lose your keys!
Keep a Plastic Bag with You at All Times!
If you use a power chair, this tip is for you! I promise you, no matter how much you try to avoid it, someday you will get stuck in a rainstorm. The number one thing you want to do (besides get to shelter fast!) is to keep your joystick dry! I do this by putting a grocery store plastic bag over my joystick to protect it while I’m in the rain and then wiping my joystick dry as soon as I am indoors. Since I don’t carry a purse, I just fold up the plastic bag and zip it into my wheelchair cushion! It fits in just fine and I know it’s going to be there when I need it.
About Stephanie Woodward: Stephanie is a brand ambassador for Quantum Rehab® and works as a disability rights activist. She has received many awards for helping communities become more accessible, as well as for her actions in fighting for the rights of disabled individuals as it relates to Medicaid and other support services. Click here to learn more about Stephanie.