Tag Archives: home

New Uses for Common Household Items

It isn’t always necessary to buy a specialized product in order to adapt the world to your needs. Often times, you can use everyday household items already at your disposal, in new and creative ways; turning them into a mobility device or another form of assistive technology.

I am always using my body and the objects around me in new ways in order to make my life easier. Sometimes this makes people nervous. For instance, I have been known to carry anything from a slip of paper, to dinnerware, in my mouth in order to avoid an extra trip. This drives my Dad crazy, he thinks I might break a tooth; but if it is good enough for my dog, it is good enough for me. Other times my ingenuity leaves people wondering “why didn’t I think of that?” and soon others, even those without disabilities, are using my methods in their daily routines.

I have a tall bar stool in my house. It is located right next to my fridge in the kitchen. It is not for sitting, even if I wanted to sit on it I couldn’t. I do, however, use it for a number of other things. First, I use it to hold my coffee cup and cereal bowl while I pour milk in the morning. This saves me from have to make trips back and forth from the table to the fridge in the morning. Secondly, I use it to carry things from one side of the kitchen to the other. I simply place the item(s) on the stool and push the stool from one place to the next. It slides very easily on the kitchen floor. Finally, I use it for stability, when sweeping or picking something up off the floor. The third instance isn’t as common, thanks to my Mint and my dog. However, it is good to have options.

Another common item that I use in uncommon ways are tongs. You can probably guess what these are for. I not only have CP, but I am also short and cannot reach past the second self in most of my kitchen cabinets. Since step stools are hard from me to climb, I often use the tongs to give me a few more inches of reach when I am in a pinch. There is a technique to using tongs, but with a bit of practice any one can master it. Though I must caution that this is not recommended for heavy or breakable items. This warning comes from personal experience.

The last item I use frequently are those reusable grocery bags. I use them to carry heavy objects, like my laptop, from room to room, especially if I am going upstairs. I can’t carry the bag on my shoulder so I hang it on my forearm, or for a hands free trip, around my neck.

Of course these tricks and techniques won’t work for everyone, but I think that all of us can benefit from thinking outside the box in order to live UNlimited.

What everyday items do you like to use in new ways?

Homebound … By Choice!


My friend May is 78 and has been living alone since her husband passed away a year ago. She’s in pretty good shape and wants to remain in the house that’s been a home to her for almost 40 years. She told me that she was worried her children would want to put her in a retirement home so she decided to be pro-active. She wanted to ease their minds so she made a list of problems that could face her as she aged and how she would handle them.  The following is her list:

Home maintenance: keep a list of phone numbers for laundry, shopping, gardening, housekeeping and handyman services if and when they are needed.

Transportation: There is a taxi service in our town that is not too costly and, since I don’t drive at night anymore, I can call them for that. If I decide at some point that I no longer feel confident to drive at all I will call them or friends when needed

Home modifications: I’ve already turned the den into my bedroom and I live on the first floor. I‘ve had the tub taken out of the bathroom and installed a shower with grab bars. I have few steps outside but will have a ramp put in if I need one.

Personal needs: If I ever need care in dressing, bathing or meal preparations I have the phone # of an agency that handles all these issues and comes highly recommended by a good friend.

Medical: Keep a list of the meds I take and when I take them.  Keep a yearly calendar and put down Dr. appt’s, etc. Contact my insurance and see what coverage is available for at-home health care services.

Social needs: We have a Senior Citizens Center that provides social gatherings and projects. In addition we have a bus service for seniors that comes right by my house and they take us to the Center as well as to the movie theater and shopping center. I stay in touch with a large group of friends so I don’t fear being isolated.

This was the list that May gave to her children and it was very effective. It helped them realize that she is serious about staying in her home. Since I want to do the same thing it meant a lot to me and I have a feeling there are many of you out there that feel the same way. Do you have any additional items to add to her list? I’d love to hear about them.

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