* This post is written by one of our volunteer content creators. *
Small Changes That Make Everyday Tasks More Manageable
As I was preparing my lunch a few days ago I was thinking about how I’ve adapted my kitchen to ensure I avoid serious burns, concussions or other fall based calamities. This then got me thinking about how I’ve adapted other areas of my home to make my life safer and more manageable, whilst maintaining my independence. So here are a few of my favourite adaptations, most of which are inexpensive and don’t look like a stereotypical disability aid.
These are my new best friend when it comes to all things cooking! I’ve got two pairs of kitchen scissors which come apart for easy cleaning and can be used for cutting up all sorts of things. My poor coordination, lack of dexterity and difficulty concentrating (causing my limbs to wander off) make it difficult to use a knife; so where possible I now use scissors! For example, after using a knife to remove the top and bottom of the pepper, use scissors to cut it into small strips, cubes it in chunks! Other scissor friendly food items include raw meats and cheese.
As soon as I started struggling to withstand, I acquired a perching stool. Yet it always seemed to be in the wrong place when needed, plus and size of my kitchen meant I was constantly having to stand up to reach items. Frustrated by my need to be seated safely whilst handling anything sharp or hot, I decided to invest in a saddle stool. Commonly used by medical professionals such as physios and osteopaths during clinics, this was the perfect solution to my struggles. I still can’t spend large amounts of time in the kitchen (hence the ready-made pizza), but I can now safely transfer the hot pizza from the oven to the worktop whilst sitting down. My balance is much more stable, and I can move around more easily by gently pushing my feet.
I found this item in the middle of Lidl, which was such a pleasant surprise. The other shoppers must have thought I was rather odd for getting so excited over a washing basket! But the reason I love this basket so much is that it has shopping basket style handles, making it easy to carry and manoeuvre. It’s also slightly smaller than a standard washing basket so you don’t knock things flying at every turn.
Best of all, I can carry the basket in one hand whilst using my stick in the other. Allowing me to concentrate on maintaining my balance and looking ahead for obstacles like furniture and corners. It also perfectly fits on my lap when using my stairlift. So even though I now need help with the physical process of managing my laundry, this item allows me to put loads in the washing machine and transfer loads to the tumble dryer. Being able to independently complete even a small part of the process, a task that may seem small to most but is really fulfilling for me.
My washing machine and tumble dryer are stacked one above the other to make moving it easier to move items between. For many years I used to load all my wet washing into a large blue IKEA bag, followed by standing up and transferring the washing into the tumble dryer. They are light, waterproof, flexible and they fold up neatly when not in use! However, I now need a Carer to help with this task, but on the rare occasion when they leave before the cycle finishes, I’ve had to find the easiest and safest way to empty it myself. I typically empty the wet washing into the basket then wedging the between myself and the tumble dryer to load it.
But in the process of creating this post fellow AYL creator Lauren told me about washing machine and tumble dryer stacker trays, which pull out for easy loading/unloading. So I will definitely be trying this in the future!
This is the only item in this post that is considered a classic disability aid and something I vowed to never have in my house, as I always thought they resembled an older person’s household. Plus, they didn’t go with my housing aesthetic! But after having my bathroom converted to a wet room (I’ll be sharing more about this experience in another blog post) I had long stainless-steel grab rails made. Then after much persuasion from my dad, I decided to brave the white on my landing, so they didn’t stand out as much. Turns out installing grab rails was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I use them every day, as they can make the simplest of tasks and the shortest of journeys much easier. They are particularly useful at night, as it gives me something to hold onto whilst unsteady and half asleep.
It’s important to remember that everyone’s needs are different, so whilst these solutions worked for me, everyone should do what’s best for their individual needs. Remember to seek advice from an Occupational Therapist or Physiotherapist if you are unsure, two services your GP should be able to refer you to.
I hope this blog post has highlighted how small changes can sometimes have the biggest impact. So if you have any particular disability ‘hacks’, products or ways of approaching tasks that have made a big difference in your life, please get in touch via the links below as I’d love to hear your ideas!
Thanks For Reading - Emma x