Things to Live By
Here are some useful products that make life easier and more independent for stroke survivors, people with aphasia, people who use only one hand, people with mobility issues and physical disabilities, and anyone who wants to make their day a little easier around the house, in the kitchen, grooming, reading, writing, moving around, going out, traveling, working, playing, enjoying life.
My speech, occupational and physical therapists helped me learn to be independent by teaching me techniques for one-handed living, a weak right leg, and speech problems from aphasia. Then, it was up to me to continue to find new tricks and tools for my personal care, household chores, work and play. Like most people, we live on a tight budget. So, instead of ordering from an expensive medical equipment supplier, we look for gadgets in our local department store, hardware store, drug store, and occasionally a specialty catalog. You can find almost anything on Amazon, so we have provided a link to Amazon to see and order products like mine.
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Holding small books open with angle weights
Some of my favorite tools are my angle weights. They look like small bookends but are heavy enough to hold open a checkbook or paperback book or serve as a paperweight for everyday activities and crafts where you need an extra hand to hold things. You can also hold something in place to cut or glue between two angle weights. They don't break or chip. I have different sizes, and probably use the 2" x 2" x 2” the most.
Measure and Cut in One Swipe
Cutting paper in a straight line with one hand is a challenge. I use the compact and lightweight 12 inch Fiskars SureCut Portable Trimmer on my desk. I can line up a regular-sized piece of paper, measure and cut just where I need to cut with a swipe down the built-in ruler. The ruler extends to the full length of the paper. You can cut coupons, photos, notepaper, craft paper, and light card stock easily. It can cut a few pieces of paper at a time.
Lighting Candles With One Hand
Lighting candles for holiday or birthday celebrations can be hard one-handed. Matches are almost impossible for me. Instead, I use a lighter that looks like a small gun, the BiC Multipurpose Candle Lighter. You hold down the hammer with your thumb, then pull the trigger and a little flame leaps out, easy to light any size candle with one hand.
Doing everything with one hand takes more time. You can manage this in two ways: 1. Try new things to make your routine easier; 2. Watch the time. By watching the time you start and finish a task, you learn how to plan your day. Also, you see improvement as you practice and finish faster. This is true in the shower, too. I have a waterproof clock that hangs on a rope over the shower arm and runs on regular batteries. When I first came home from the hospital, it took me more than an hour to take a shower. Today, it takes about 20 minutes, including drying off.
One-handed Digital Photography
I use my smartphone for everyday photos, but when I travel, or for special events, I use a digital camera, the Canon PowerShot ELPH 180. You can take better photos than from your phone, especially landscape or close-ups of items further away, you can take longer videos, and the Canon compensates if I’m a little shaky, since I can only use one hand. It’s small, lightweight, fits into my pocket.
Transfer Tub Bench
For safety in the shower, I always use a seat with a back. I have a transfer tub bench that I've used since my stroke, like the Drive Medical Plastic Tub Transfer Bench with Adjustable Backrest. It converts a bathtub into a safe shower for me. I sit down on the part that extends over the side of the tub, then lift my legs and turn. This makes me independent and safe in the morning.
Bathroom Safety Grab Bar
After my stroke, I had problems with balance, standing, and climbing. We had handrails installed on both sides of all our stairs, and grab bars in the bathroom by the toilet and shower, giving me independence and safety. You can get grab bars that match towel holders and other bathroom fixtures. We used a line of Delta products when we remodeled our bathroom, like the Delta Faucet 41624-SS Traditional Decorative Grab Bar, 24", Stainless Steel.
Arm Support for Computer Use
Since I can't use my right hand, my left hand does double duty, especially on the computer. I use an articulating arm support to reduce the stress on my left arm, the ErgoRest Articulating Arm Support. It provides comfortable arm, shoulder, and neck support with a free range of motion. It clamps easily onto my computer desk and is sturdy and durable.
When I go out to a restaurant and use a regular cane, I try to keep the cane off the floor, out of the way of others. I use a holder that snaps onto the cane, slide it up to the table height and lean the cane upright on the table.
When I travel, I pack a foldable walking cane, like the RMS Folding Cane. It easily folds to a compact 11" to fit into a backpack or carry-on luggage. When unfolded, it securely locks in position to provide safety and stability, adjusts for heights between 34" and 38". Made from durable aluminum, the walking cane is lightweight but strong and sturdy, safely sustaining up to 250 lbs weight capacity.