My husband Arthur and I experienced a drastic lifestyle change when he had his motorcycle accident 5 years ago. He is a T-11 complete paraplegic whose legs are his wheelchair.
We’ve been living in our condo since 2016 and, although it is wheelchair accessible with wide doors and a shower that he can roll into, I learned that we had to make other accommodations for daily living for my husband with an eye towards independence. I’m happy to say that my husband is independent enough that I can go away for a few days and he is fine – he will not starve nor will he be stuck without being able to reach his clothes. I’m happy to share what works for us in the hope that it will take some of the thinking off your shoulders should you find yourself in a similar situation!
Below is a list of changes made so that my husband could be self-sufficient:
Problem: Arthur can’t reach the microwave above the stove.
Solution: Two microwaves. We put one on a cart that he can wheel up to and reach.
Problem: Arthur can’t reach the cabinets where the plates and glasses are.
Solution: We put a shelf over his microwave so he can reach plates, cups, and glasses.
Problem: He can’t reach the shirts on the rod in his closet.
Solution: Add a lower rod. I switch out his shirts each season – summer/spring and winter/fall so the off-season shirts are on top. In-season shirts are moved to the bottom rod where he can reach.
Problem: He can’t reach his jackets in the hall closet.
Solution: I couldn’t just add a lower rack here because the bottom of the hall closet houses household items like the vacuum. So I derived this solution: Put a hook on the inside of the door and use several hangers hung on rope within his reach. It’s a bit crude and I’m sure you can figure out a better way than rope, but it works!
Problem: The space is awkward to open drawers in the bedroom in his wheelchair.
Solution: His sweaters, pants and socks are in baskets on open shelves. It may not look aesthetically pleasing but it gets the job done.
Problem: We have a stacked washer and dryer that are on top of each other. Arthur cannot reach into the washer or see inside the upper dryer.
Solution: He uses a grabber to move the clothes from the washer to the dryer. He uses a mirror to look inside the washer to be sure he hasn’t left anything in it. He also uses the mirror when the clothes are dry to make sure he didn’t leave anything in the dryer.
Other ways we accommodate independent living:
We have worked out a system so that he is contributing to the chores. He empties the dishes from the dishwasher onto the counter and I put the dishes away.
We keep a grabber in every room. He may need it to reach something higher level, to pick up something he dropped on the floor, or pull the quilt over himself in bed.
The refrigerator has been stocked so that items he uses regularly – mustard, bread, fruit, are put on lower shelves.
He has a corner desk that he can roll up to.
Coffee, oatmeal, crackers, etc have all been put in shelves under the counter within easy reach for him, especially things he uses everyday.
I hope some of these help! Please share with us in the comments below your hacks for daily living!
The Italian Grandmama
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