We’re back to address issues that can affect your daily life, like bowel issues and mildly embarrassing issues. This time we are talking about mobility. And these issues can range from arthritic hands to joint pain to an amputated limb, so the amount of assistance needed is subjective. We spoke to Dr. Kristen Tracey, a physical therapist specializing in orthopedic, neurological and pelvic floor therapy, to find out which products are worth using and how they can help.
Tracey says the key is to equip your home with enough assistive devices to perform daily tasks without pain, but not so much that the person becomes sedentary. “The bathroom is the most unforgiving place,” Tracey says, so she would definitely start there with grab bars. She also recommends “using all technology to queue patients to move around and prevent a sedentary lifestyle.” Tracey says it can be helpful to set up an Alexa smart device to tell the person to get up and stand every 20 minutes. For a patient with chronic pain, a TENS unit is affordable and can “reduce the pain from nine or ten to something more tolerable”.
To help you out, we’ve found everything you’ll need based on his recommendations, from grab bars to an affordable muscle stimulator.
An adjustable bench for the bath or shower…
Tracey says the bathroom is where people with reduced mobility need the most help, especially since water adds a dangerous element. This bench will help you get in and out of the shower or tub without fear of slipping. It has an adjustable backrest for support, extra-wide suction cup feet that ensure it stays in place, and tiny holes that prevent water from pooling. Customers say it’s very easy to assemble. ($68.98, Amazon)
A bidet to avoid twisting and turning…
For those with limited range of motion in the spine, wiping off after using the bathroom can cause pain. This bidet uses fresh water (never from the bowl) to spray your clean bum. It can be installed on almost any toilet and has water pressure control from a light to strong jet. Plus, you’ll be choosing the sustainable option, saving toilet paper and trees every year. ($99, Tushy)
An aid that will help you put on your socks…
Simply place a sock over the plastic piece – which is made of soft, flexible plastic so even those with weaker hand strength can use it – and pull the rubber handles to step onto your sock. There’s no need to bend over or pull to cause pain, and the rubber panel prevents the sock from slipping when you pull. Getting dressed will be child’s play. ($14.97, Amazon)
A safety post with a grab bar attached…
For maximum stability in the bathroom, this floor-to-ceiling safety post will do the trick. It’s installed with a tension mount, so you know it won’t move, and has a grab bar in the middle that rotates and locks into place every 45 degrees. The grab bar has a ladder style that will help you pull yourself up, and it can also be used next to a bed. Customers love that the installation does not damage the ceiling or floor. ($174.99, Amazon)
A traditional grab bar that can go anywhere in the bathroom…
This safety bar can be installed anywhere and at any angle in the bathroom where you might need extra help. It can support up to 500 pounds and is available in brushed stainless steel to match the rest of your bathroom hardware. Note: If you are installing the bar into a studless wall, you will need to purchase secure brackets separately. ($21.32+, Amazon)
A two-pack of pliers that picks up even the smallest objects…
The 19-inch gripper is perfect for picking up items off the floor if you’re in a wheelchair, while the 32-inch gripper works well for reaching items on the top shelf. The trigger is soft and easy for those with sore hands and wrists, and the jaw is rubberized, so it can easily pick up tiny objects like keys and coins. Tracey recommends grabbers but cautions against relying solely on them because the muscles you spare will gradually weaken. ($32.99, Amazon)
A smart home device like an Amazon Echo Show…
Tracey says patients with mobility issues can often forget to move their bodies, so it can be helpful to set Alexa to remind you daily to get up or walk. You can also video chat with your family via the screen that automatically adjusts to keep you in frame, even when you’re seated. It can also be programmed to show photos, your calendar or recipes so you can cook hands-free. ($99.99+, Amazon)
A jar opener under the counter…
For arthritic hands with less strength, daily tasks can cause pain. This jar opener mounts under a cabinet so it won’t be an eyesore, but opens a range of bottles and jars from a water bottle to nail polish to a larger pickle jar. Customers note that you should install with the V pointing towards you, so you can pull the pot forward rather than backward to open the top. ($18.95, Amazon)
A set that opens jars, bottles, cans…
Place the door opener on the correct size lid (there are four sizes to choose from), lock it and easily twist it to open. It has thick rubber grips so it never slips. The can opener also features an interior space to open bottle caps, as well as a place that will open a soda can tab. This set has all your beverage needs covered. ($8.49+, Amazon)
A TENS unit to stimulate your muscles…
This is a professional and affordable machine that Tracey recommends for muscle and joint pain relief. It works via electrodes to stimulate and massage muscles through reusable adhesive pads. The pads can be placed in various places on the body, from the upper back to the calves, and even on the hands or feet. It has 16 massage modes, a rechargeable battery that can last up to 10 hours, and comes with a carry bag so you can take it anywhere. Customers say it’s great for temporary pain relief and they use it every day. ($30.95, Amazon)
A mini massager to eliminate aches and pains…
The mini version of the popular Theragun is much easier to hold, especially for weak hands. It’s compact but still packs a punch to relieve cramps, knots, and muscle tension. Plus, it’s incredibly quiet and has a 150-minute battery life. Customers say it’s great for people who sit all day and can be used at night without waking the rest of the house. ($199, Therabody)
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Skimmed by Martha Upton, Alexandra Napoli