Disabled into Abled.. My 8 life-changing tips and tricks!

Here were are again my dear friends! Another week filled with so many different possibilities…..and a new blog!

This week, I bring to you my 8 handy tips and tricks to possibly make life a little easier.

Let’s be honest though, whether you are disabled or abled, we all need help with some things through life. When you are dis-ABLED, a portion of your life is spent finding new ways to go about daily life. For most people, getting out of bed, going to the bathroom, brushing your teeth or hair, preparing food or even getting from destination A to B doesn’t require much thought. However, for approximately 15% of the population (stat courtesy of the World Health Organisation) going about everyday life isn’t that simple.

For some of us, just simply going to a new destination requires a lot of thought and planning. Is there Braille located on stairs or on buttons? Are there any stairs, and if so is there an option of a lift? Is the chair at the right height so I can get up unassisted and most significantly, how crowded will it be? Will there be enough space to maneuver a wheelchair? Is it going to be too much of a sensory overload? The list seems endless, and then if someone else is planning the day out, the anxiety rushes in.

Fortunately, the place where ability is on your side is within the home. We all have the ability to make the home as functional and as practical as we need. By introducing various aids, Braille, dimmed lights, flick mixer taps, higher toilet seats or frames, is usually a relatively easy fix to the accessibility problems at home.

Though in saying that, I want to make it clear that all disabilities have different limitations, and everyone struggles with something. What may work for some may not work for others. These tips I am about to share with you are what I have found works for me and my situation.

Nevertheless, I hope sharing my ‘techniques’ will encourage you to be as equally quirky to come up with some different ways to go about your daily life! If you have any tips or ticks you use to get through your day, please comment below! Who knows, your tricks may just help others too!

So first up….

Tip 1: Get a dog to help you

Being disabled means needing extra help. In my case some help comes from my pawfect Border Collie Companion.
Let’s face it, I have the cutest dog/ companion ever!

 I am fortunate enough to have Milly in my life. When she was a puppy, we put her through puppy preschool and obedience class. Safe to say she excelled, and from there I knew that she could be more than just a pet.

I decided that she could help me in more ways than just offering reciprocated, unconditional love. She became my assistance dog. Overtime I began to teach her to pick things up off the floor and bring them to me with simple commands, and constant rewarding with treats.

As I have had Scoliosis surgery, and with gravity being my constant enemy, I struggle taking off and putting on socks as well as tying up shoe laces. Hence requiring the assistance of a four legged, cute ball of fluff to help me. It is safe to say she is brilliant with removing of socks, but I am not as confident that she will ever be able to tie my laces!

In order to train her,  I would drop a piece of clothing in front of her and as she grabbed it I would simply say ‘pick up’. Once she brought it to me (probably thinking we would pay a game), I would say ‘thank you’, take the item off her, then reward her with a treat.

After a little patience and consistency, she started to associate the words with the actions and knowing she would get rewarded. I may be a bit biased when I say that Border Collies are the best dogs to train!

Then we introduced her to taking socks off my feet. Training her was pretty simple, as it started out like a game of Tug-Of-War. I would put a sock on my hand and get her to take it off while saying ‘sock off’ and then reward her. Once she became confident enough, I then started seeing if she would do it when I had socks on my feet. She took some time but eventually it worked, and soon enough she was taking my socks off like a pro assistance dog.

Fast forward 7 or so years, and she is my perfect companion.

However, it is safe to say that on occasion she does her job too well. This is because she will bring you random items without you instructing her to do so. You have to love it when she brings you dirty laundry or some random piece of rubbish just so she can get a treat! Or she will be in one of those moods where she simply doesn’t want to help at all.

PS…..be warned, if you end up teaching your dog to remove your socks, they may end up grabbing a toe instead of the socks out of excitement.

Tip 2: Tongs aren’t just for food

 If your dog doesn’t want to assist and she looks at you as if to say ‘nope not today’, then using tongs may be your next best option.

I have recently discovered the multiple uses for tongs around the house. Not only are they designed for flipping food and grabbing spaghetti, they are also handy for picking things up off the floor! Shocker I know!

It is astounding how versatile these things actually are! I know I know, I am probably late to this discovery, but better late than never right!

Tip 3: Reaching Aids

If tongs aren’t in easy reach or you need something a little extra (and if the dog still doesn’t want to help) then a long reaching aid is the next best bet. You can find this awesome tool practically anywhere, especially your local mobility store. We were fortunate enough to find mine in a discount store!

They are very efficient to pick things up off the floor without needing to bend over which puts strain on your back and may result in falling flat on your face (yes that has happened!). If you need extra length to reach things in a cupboard or to grab things stuck under furniture, this is your gadget! Win Win!!!!

Tip 4: Feet (I know.. eek!)

Photo by Marianna from Pexels

If all of the above is not available to you, I have found that I have a secret skill with my toes! I can pick up a lot of things like cutlery, pens, mobile phones, plastic and can even move baskets with my feet. It is a very handy skill which requires not much explanation.

It has taken me a while to master this skill, but when you are on your own and the tongs, reaching aid or family pet do not work, it is the next best thing! I apologize if you are one of those people who have feet phobias and were grossed out by that tip. Truly I am!

Tip 5: The best thing for washing hair!

The next tip is for washing your hair in the shower!

I used to use a back scrubber to be able to reach the back of my head since my arm muscles and shoulders are tight and having less muscle strength means my reach is less than ‘usual’.

However, I found that this method wasn’t doing the job properly, and I ended up with the good old flaky stuff constantly. I know TMI and disgusting, but hey just being honest.

So I ditched the scrubber and decided to wedge my elbow between the shower glass and the tiled wall. It created a good elbow jamb, enough for me to lean on it which pushed my hand closer to the back of my head! I still have some issues reaching the back of my head with this method, however it is a lot better than having an oily head and it is something I can do by myself.

If anyone has any other methods that work please comment below!

Tip 6: Use a knife to open tins

The next hack is for opening tins….should I really be suggesting using a knife for this?!

As I don’t have much arm or hand strength, opening jars and tins or just lids is a pain. I think for anyone opening a new jar of Jam or Capers is just a nightmare. Am I right!?

However, in saying that I have discovered the power of a knife.

I know that may sound weird but let me explain. I am not sure if this is standard across the world, but in Australia we have small tins of tuna which have a tab like a Soft Drink Can, but bigger. I struggle opening the tin due to needing super human strength to pull the tab back on itself to open the tin.

So one day I decided to pull out a bread knife to pull up the tab.

Once that successfully worked there is a hole in the tab that was big enough to fit the knife. I wedge it between the hole and the opposite edge of the tin and lifted upwards, while holding the container against the bench. It then opened my tin of tuna! SCORE!!

This is now my go to method of opening tins. When my dad saw me doing this even he was shocked with how I managed to figure out a way of opening tuna.

Tip 7: Use a small flour sifter/ strainer

Has anyone else struggled with the weight of saucepans when it is filled with boiling water? And then hoping that the handle doesn’t break or you don’t drop the pan and burn yourself when trying carry it from the stove to the sink?

I certainly struggle with the weight, as well as trying to hold onto the handle when it contains water. This is simply due to the fact that my arm and wrist strength is shocking at the best of times. So therefore it is close to impossible to lift the saucepan, let alone carry it to the sink.

So, I figured that when it came time to straining out my rice or pasta, I grabbed the small flour sifter or strainer we had in the draw. I would scoop out the contents with the sifter/ strainer which effectively drained out the water and then put the contents straight into a bowl. It works every time!

To empty the water from the saucepan I simply wait for the water to cool down so I can hold both sides of the pan. Simple! Or if it is one of those days where I feel as wobbly as Jelly, I will scoop out some of the water into a bowl, and then empty the saucepan. Once the pan is light enough for me to carry, I will take the pan and pour the left over water into the sink.

I know that plenty of people use strainers to scoop out Churros or Bay Leaves from savoury dishes. So it could be safe to say I am a little late to the party on that front, but has anyone else tried straining pasta or rice using a mini strainer? Makes life so much easier!

Extra tip: When trying to strain rice with this method, let the water keep boiling. This will allow the rice to stay on top of the water instead of on the bottom of the pan. The end result is more rice in your bowl instead of on the bottom of the pan!

Tip 8: If all else fails, ask a human!

If all the above methods fail or you don’t have the resources, or maybe you are having just one of those days (like I do on the regular), I highly suggest asking a human to assist you.

Carers, guardians, parents, spouses, friends or neighbours, are always near by to help you if you get stuck. I mean that literally and figuratively. You just have to ask. There is absolutely no shame in asking for help. Ever! Regardless of the area in which you need a hand, I wish I had realised a lot sooner than I did that asking for help is ok.

Growing up I struggled with accepting my circumstances. Asking for help made it more apparent to me that I was disabled. Throughout my schooling, I was told multiple times by my ‘friends’ that I was too ‘needy’ in the help department. This, naturally, made me feel like I was a burden to those around me when I needed help. Also being told by others that I was too ‘needy’, this left me feeling like I could only ask my parents for help in order to reduce the chance that my loved ones or friends would start to feel the same way towards me.

Understandably, this then created a domino affect with my mental state, resulting in my lashing out at those who just wanted to help me! As a result I became super angry at the world, and didn’t want to ask for help out of fear of being judged. Before I knew it, I was spiraling down a dark path mentally.

Not many people understand that asking for help with getting off of low chairs, off the toilet, getting changed, walking up stairs etc, can be very confronting. This is simply because to help you, they need to be in your personal bubble, and that can be very uncomfortable at times, especially when you are still getting used to the idea of being ‘disabled’ and needing help in the first place.

However, I soon realised through many conversations with my family, that EVERYONE needs help. Tears were shed, enough to make Niagara Falls seem like a stream, but communication is the best healer.

For example, my father needs help with IT and computer programs, and my mother needs help with chopping firewood, and reaching the top of cupboards. For me, I need help with opening jars, tying up my hair, getting changed on the odd occasion, being helped off the toilet, and needing help with my mental health…..and that is ok.

Once I came to the realisation that regardless of disability, everyone needs help in some way, my mood started to improve. Suddenly, asking for help started to become less daunting, less anxiety inducing and even less depressing each time. That in itself is a good thing, especially when you end up in hospital and the only help of an evening are Nurses who are complete strangers! We have all been in that situation!

I am starting to get better at asking for help, even though I do have days where the old thoughts starts to resurface.

The one things acceptance has taught me is I have realised the importance of laughing it off if things don’t go to plan. For example if both you and your assistant end up on your butts because they tripped while helping you off the floor. We are all more the same than you think in this department.

So when you are stuck and need help, it is better to ask for assistance rather than just struggling along. And you may just make someone who is secretly struggling to feel a sense of purpose, feel needed! So it is a win win!

The End.

Photo by Ann H from Pexels

So here we are my friends, the end of another blog.

Please remember that we all need help in some department. If you are struggling in any way shape or form, please do reach out to those you trust. We are all loved, and simply want life to be as stress free as possible. So finding ways in which you can do things that seem tricky, is the best thing ever. It makes you even more unique which is honestly a really good thing. Remember being the same as the person next to you is incredibly boring. You deserve to shine in your own way!

I hope you all are doing well.

Till next time

Peace and Love,

Rhi xo.

8 thoughts on “Disabled into Abled.. My 8 life-changing tips and tricks!”

  1. Fantastic blog, Rhi and thought provoking about some things that aren’t well known to everyone. I wonder if a future blog could look at the do’s and don’ts of offering supports without seeming patronising or rude? But you seem to have so many good ideas for your writing, I am sure you have heaps to cover anyway? I am really enjoying this quality blog, looking forward to your continued great work!

  2. Pingback: Own your life! Tips and tricks to smash 2021 - Living Abled

  3. Pingback: Muscular Dystrophy: My Beautiful Roller Coaster ride - Living Abled

  4. Pingback: Disability Pride! Let's Crush the stigma- My journey to pride! - Living Abled

  5. Pingback: Home Alone: How I crush being on my own - Living Abled

  6. Pingback: How I am managing my dis-ability in 2023! - Living Abled

  7. Pingback: Living At Home: Creating Independence - Living Abled

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.