Category Archives: Lars Syndrome

Make the Laundry Work for You by Emily Ladau

I can’t say I’ve ever met anyone who enjoys the chore of doing the laundry. While it can be a difficult or time-consuming task for anyone, having a disability can make laundry day nothing short of exhausting. If you have a mobility disability or chronic pain like I do, then you probably wish getting clean clothes wouldn’t always have to be such a monumental task.

Think about it: just one load of laundry requires several physically demanding steps. This likely means that it’s either challenging to do your laundry independently, or that you can do it independently but it’s quite the affair, at least in my experience. Once you get the heavy basket of clothes to the washing machine, you might have to bend to unload the basket into the machine, and reach high to put in soap and turn the machine on. Then, taking the clothes out of the washing machine and getting them into the dryer can be tough because sometimes socks get stuck at the back of the machine, or you might drop a shirt on the floor. The same things can happen when you’re trying to unload the dryer, too.

In order to make it easier to do a load of laundry, I’ve got a few tricks to adapt the process, all of which I learned thanks to my mother, who has years of laundry experience and also has the same physical disability as me. To help avoid too much bending, we always keep a reaching stick handy in our laundry room. This way, if we drop something or can’t quite reach the last pair of underwear at the bottom of the hamper, the reaching stick can do the work for us.

After getting the clothes into the washing machine, the next challenge for me is handling the detergent. Detergent bottles are often heavy and unwieldy, and it can be a challenge for me to reach the little drawer where the soap goes. So, I use Purex Complete 3-in-1 Laundry Sheets. My mother and I discovered these gems when I was in college because I needed an easy way to do laundry on campus. The Purex sheets can be placed directly in the washing machine because they contain detergent that completely dissolves in the water while cleaning your clothes. Then, you can simply transfer the sheet to the dryer because it also functions as a dryer sheet with fabric softener. Brilliant!

Once my load of wash is finished, I don’t have to carry a basket across my house. Instead, my mom had the brilliant idea to get a laundry trolley. It’s essentially a basket on wheels that you can push like a lightweight baby stroller, and it’s awesome. Plus, the basket is easily removable from the cart, though I prefer keeping the basket in the cart because it’s at a good height for me to reach.

Of course, even with all these simple ways to make doing my laundry easier, there’s no avoiding the fact that everything has to be folded – unless you’re a fan of the throw-it-in-the-drawers approach. (Hey, no judgment!) But with the right tools to get the laundry done, you’ll have more energy saved for tackling perfectly folded clothes!

 

Products Mentioned:

Sammons Preston® Easireach II Reacher®
Purex Complete 3-in-1 Laundry Sheets
Hills Panache Laundry Trolley

EmilyLadau_Headshot_2013

Emily Ladau is a passionate disability rights advocate whose career began at the age of 10, when she appeared on several episodes of Sesame Street to educate children about her life with a physical disability. In the years that followed, Emily took on leadership roles in many advocacy initiatives. She graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in English from Adelphi University. Immediately after graduation, Emily was selected to participate in the prestigious American Association of People with Disabilities internship program based in Washington, D.C. Since completing her internship in August 2013, Emily has been both employed and volunteering with multiple organizations to foster employment opportunities and develop resources for the disability community, as well as to encourage people with all types of disabilities to develop their inner voice for advocacy.

Emily blogs at Words I Wheel By about her experiences as a disabled young adult, challenging people to consider all aspects of the disability experience in new ways. She loves forming new connections, and invites you to like Words I Wheel By on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @emily_ladau.

 

 

A Secret Weapon for Transfer Troubles

by Emily Ladau

I love a good adventure as much as the next person, but it can often be a bit challenging to transfer from my wheelchair into a car. My family has a vehicle adapted so I can get inside, but sometimes I just want to take a drive with my friends. Since it took me longer to get my driver’s license than most of my peers and I’m still working on getting a vehicle with the equipment I need to drive, my current options for transportation when going out are either to be driven by my father or to be picked up by a friend. While I’m thankful that my friends are always up for letting me hitch a ride, transferring to the passenger seat used to be a two person acrobatic performance.

Being that I’m fairly independent, I’m not a huge fan of asking for assistance to wiggle into a car even though I know my friends don’t mind helping. So, in order to enjoy going out, I would let go of my pride and ask for a hand. I continued this slightly frustrating process until the fateful day that my mother was flipping through a catalog and discovered what has since become my new secret weapon for transfers.

What’s my secret? Believe it or not, it’s a bath step. The Drive Medical Portable Bath Step, to be exact. You’re probably wondering why I’m singing the praises of what seems like nothing more than a glorified step stool. It’s because the bath step is so much better and safer than a regular step stool. For example, it’s intended for use in a slippery environment. This means even when I’m out in the rain, I can get into a car with less risk of falling. Plus, the price is a bargain for something that makes my life easier and gives me a way to be more independent.

The one caveat is that since I only use one step, it only gives me enough height to transfer into cars, but not into vans or trucks. But, you can get more than one step since they’re stackable and lightweight, which could be a solution to that issue. Luckily, most of my friends have regular sedans.

My transfer process is pretty simple. I place the bath step on the ground in front of the ledge of the car. Then I roll my chair up as close as possible at an angle, put the brakes on, put my feet on the step, and spin around to sit on the ledge. From there, I pull myself up into the seat mostly with my upper body, but the four inches of extra height makes it much less of a struggle and gives me plenty of leverage. Most importantly, I love that I can do the transfer myself, so that it’s a one-acrobat process instead of two!

As an added bonus, the simple little bath step not only opens up possibilities for me to get in my friends’ cars, but also makes the process of getting into bed much easier for me when I’m exhausted at the end of an adventurous day. When I got a new bed a few years ago, it was much higher than my old one and posed a challenge for me to get on. So, I bought another step to keep on the side of my bed to give me a small but much needed height boost for transfers.

Who knew that independence could take the shape of a plastic step? It’s been such a freeing discovery. What are your transfer tricks?


 

EmilyLadau_Headshot_2013Emily Ladau is a passionate disability rights advocate whose career began at the age of 10, when she appeared on several episodes of Sesame Street to educate children about her life with a physical disability. In the years that followed, Emily took on leadership roles in many advocacy initiatives. She graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in English from Adelphi University. Immediately after graduation, Emily was selected to participate in the prestigious American Association of People with Disabilities internship program based in Washington, D.C. Since completing her internship in August 2013, Emily has been both employed and volunteering with multiple organizations to foster employment opportunities and develop resources for the disability community, as well as to encourage people with all types of disabilities to develop their inner voice for advocacy.

Emily blogs at Words I Wheel By about her experiences as a disabled young adult, challenging people to consider all aspects of the disability experience in new ways. She loves forming new connections, and invites you to like Words I Wheel By on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @emily_ladau.

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