Category Archives: Grabber

The Assistive Technology it Took Me 30 Years to Purchase

Sometimes, I have to laugh when I tell people that I write for a company that sells adaptive equipment. You see, despite having a disability and despite the wide variety of items in existence that help people just like me, I don’t usually buy these items. Sure I have a wheelchair, a pair of crutches and grab bars in my shower, but beyond that, my house is pretty much void of any disability- specific items.

See, I was raised in a household where if you could do it, you should do it, even if it is hard. This prevented me from getting a wheelchair until tenth grade; even as in adult it has kept me from purchasing certain items that would make daily tasks easier. I tell myself, “you don’t need that, you can do it the way you always have.” This is silly, especially since I have purchase plenty of non-disability specific items over the years that make things easier. The decision to NOT purchase certain items was subconscious, and it wasn’t until I got my new job that I even realized I was doing it.

When my job asked me if I need anything in the office to accommodate my disability, the only thing I mentioned was needing enough space for my chair. Then, one day after starting my job, I dropped a number of things and had to keep asking my boss to pick them up. After the sixth time of interrupting him to retrieve a dropped item, I realized that a reacher might be in order.

A reacher is one of those items I have never considered before, despite the fact that I drop things rather frequently. I drop things so often; in fact, I trained my dog to pick them up. However, I don’t bring my dog to work, so I requested a reacher. It was waiting on my desk when I returned the next day and within minutes I realized how completely silly it was that I had never bought one before.

Now that I have used a reacher at work, I decided I will purchase one for my home, There are plenty of things I drop at home that my dog cannot, or will not, retrieve; such as pins, blocks for my quilts, and silverware. A reacher would mean that I don’t have to get down onto my hands and knees or wait for my husband to help.

If there are any of you, like me, who have spent years actively avoiding purchasing adaptive equipment, whether it is because you are ashamed, convinced you do just fine without it, or any other reason, I urge you to reconsider. I am all about independence and keeping the mobility you have, but I’ve realized I have been wasting a lot of time and energy for no reason. Using a reacher, or any other assistive device, is not a failure, it does not make me less independent or self-reliant. In fact, it increases my independence.

So go ahead and try that item. Whether it is a reacher, a cane, an adapted cup or any other item that might help you in your day to day tasks, it won’t hurt to see how many new doors will open with your new found level of independence.

The Multi-Use Grabber!

Although we tried to anticipate all of the needs that might arise after my Mom’s double knee replacement, in retrospect we were woefully unprepared for her recovery. While she spent a week in the rehabilitation hospital working on regaining strength, I spent my days running around trying get her home ready for her return. The therapists taught her how to use a variety of tools, but unfortunately they failed to provide us with information about where they could be purchased. (If I had known about UNlimiters I would have been spared a lot of stress, as well been able to save the gas and the time I spent driving around town trying to find everything!)

One of the tools that my Mom relied heavily upon was the grabber. Because she had difficulty moving anything below her waist, this apparatus became her lifeline to independence both at the rehab and at home. She quickly mastered picking up everything from the television remote to lifting up her covers while she was in bed. If it was within grabber reach, she didn’t need to call for assistance to obtain it.

It has been a year since her knee replacements, and while many of her adapted aids are stowed away, the grabber is still in use. She no longer requires the assistance for basic reaching but has found it invaluable for tidying around the house and yard. I had to chuckle the first time I drove up and saw my Mom in her yard picking up sticks with the grabber. What a strikingly different use for this tool compared to her initial introduction in therapy. She now habitually uses it  because it allows her to stay upright, keeping her from bending and contorting during yard work. Anything that she can do to save straining her back and knees is worthwhile!

My little boy loved using his Nana’s grabber so much that we bought him one of his own. He loves using his grabber when it is time to clean up his toys, a task which used to result in endless laments and avoidance. It certainly takes him a long time to pick up his Legos block by block using the grabber, but he is happy and busy during what used to be a dreaded chore. I’m now at the juncture where I don’t care if it takes him an hour to pick up his toys as long as he isn’t complaining and my request is being followed.

I suspect that the grabber will be hanging prominently in both of our houses for a long time, although we both have different uses. My Mom uses it to simply her work and save straining her back. My son uses it because it has become a fun way to complete his chores. For me, it is a win-win situation!

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