Top 12 Hacks for Wheelchair Users
Hack Your Way to an Accessible Life!
“There must be a better way!” This exclamation is now a relic of broadcast infomercials when someone struggles with a seemingly easy task and suddenly discovers an invention, often made of what appears to be high-density Tupperware. This item can solve all your problems for just $19.95!
Well, consider this list of life hacks an infomercial for people who are new-to-wheelchairs, new-to-a-diagnosis, or who have a recurring mobility problem and need a “better way.”
What is a ‘Life Hack’?
Some of you might not be familiar with the term ‘life hack.’ What does it mean? A life hack is simply a shortcut developed to make your life easier often by using everyday items in new ways. Sometimes a company refers to an innovative new product as a life hack. Certainly when the integrated handicap van was developed back in the ‘90s, we felt it was a life hack to beat all life hacks. After all, it simplified life for our customers, it was using items in ways they had never seen before and it was an innovative new product. Learn more about BraunAbility’s long history.
Top 12 Life Hacks for People Who Use Wheelchairs
Life Hacks for Your Home
1. Upgrade to a Headframe with Bars
Instead of opting for a headframe that is upholstered or flat wood, choose a decorative frame with gaps - that way you won’t need to install a grab bar near the bed and can use the frame to help sit up, turn over, or get out of bed.
2. Install An Empty Bottle to Extend Water Flow on Faucets
If you can’t afford to overhaul a bathroom to be accessible right now, an easy life hack is to clean out a plastic bottle and fit it over your sink faucet. This will allow the water to be diverted closer to the sink edge where you can more easily reach it until you find a better long-term solution.
3. Store Plastic Bags in Tissue Boxes
Plastic bags are getting phased out of many stores because of their negative impact on the environment, which means it is more important than ever to hold on to the ones you have! Instead of stuffing them all into one ugly master bag, consider putting them in old tissue boxes. It makes for easier storage and is less likely to fall off the shelf or hook where you stored the others. Aside from the many awesome uses of plastic bags, if you have a power chair, a plastic bag can be used to protect your joystick and other electrical components when it is raining.
4. Use Touch Lamps In Your Bedroom
Touch lamps may not make sense in some areas of the house, but for a bedroom, they are a game-changer! In many bedrooms, light switches aren’t located near to the bed. Even when they are, it’s hard to reach when laying down for a night’s sleep. A touch lamp on the bedside table is easier to activate with limited mobility or dexterity and is an easy fix for a frustrating problem.
5. Learn to Meal Prep
You’ve probably heard a lot about meal prep on social media and in magazines lately. It’s the term that refers to making food in bulk that generally lasts the full week. People who meal-prep are often focused on the weight-loss or fitness benefits of having pre-made meals to avoid snacking or falling into calorie pitfalls with eating out. However, for people with disabilities, more leftovers or prepping meals for the week means less energy spent cooking and washing dishes each day.
6. Stock Up On Safety Pins and Buttons
This is one of the most circulated life hacks for people in wheelchairs. Sitting in a wheelchair can make your shirt creep up your back over the course of the day. Get rid of the annoying creep by safety pinning your shirt to your pants or add a button to your pants with loops on your tops to keep everything where it should be. Alternately, if you don’t have sewing skills or want to avoid putting holes in your clothes, many companies now offer accessible alternatives for people who use wheelchairs.
7. Add Key Rings to Your Zippers
Metal keyrings can be a pain to put on, but once they are, they make a huge difference in zipping pants to sweatshirts. An added benefit to key rings on your pants zipper is that it can easily be hooked over the button and can help keep pants zipped throughout the day if the zipper is worn out.
8. Use Hangers or Clothing Loops to Help Pull Up Pants
Clothing loops are often found on nice tops to help them hang securely on a hanger. However, adding strong clothing loops to pants can help you pull up pants by looping them between your thumb and forefinger without needing to firmly grip with your whole hand. Alternatively, a hanger hook or other easy grab device can also help you pull up pants.
Life Hacks for Travel
9. Carry Baby Wipes or Antibacterial Wipes
It’s no secret that wheelchairs can be a dirty business. Between dirt picked up by wheels to scuff marks wheelchairs can leave oneverything from clothing to walls, baby wipes or antibacterial wipes can be the quick clean up you need to look and feel your best.
10. Connect Your Phone Charger to Your Chair’s Power
When you are out and about, one of the last things you want to have happen is to lose battery on a cellphone, especially if you are travelling in an area you aren’t familiar with. One of our favorite life hacks for people in wheelchairs is to modify your chair battery to also charge your phone in emergencies. Obviously this only works for power chairs, but it’s a great emergency backup for when you need it most.
Visiting friends' houses, the local library, or a new bar in town may be easy for some people, but for people who use wheelchairs, you can’t always rely on a business or home to be accessible. Having a backup portable travel ramp can save you lots of stress, and with so many lightweight solutions, you can keep one in your vehicle for when you need it.
Perhaps the biggest lifehack on the list is this one: making sure your ride is accessible. Not everyone knows that there are companies like BraunAbility who offer accessible vehicles to buy or rent. If you aren’t yet ready to purchase or live in an urban city with a lot of accessible transportation options, you may want to explore rental options to get around or go on vacation. Discover your rental options today and connect with a BraunAbility dealer to see what might be available.
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