Saturday, August 20, 2011

My Favorite Daily Living Aids: Not Just For the Disabled

A sock thing
My favorite daily living aid -- something to assist disabled or handicapped people -- is not much to look at. White terry cloth on one side, black fabric on the other, two white straps stitched on.
But I consider it a miraculous invention, one that helps me not to feel so handicapped.
It’s what I call a sock-putter-onner and you’d never guess its function to look at it.
I would have never known about it if I hadn’t spent time in rehabilitation trying to make my way back from paralysis and brain cancer.
It’s one of three handicapped products that I learned about during my hospital and rehab stays that everyone should know about. You don’t have to be physically as low- functioning as I was to benefit from them. You can look for them at your local medical supply store or search for them using Google or Amazon.
No. 1. The Sock Thing
It was an occupational therapist who introduced this device to me. They (I had many over the months I was in rehab) taught me to do daily living activities -- brushing my teeth, washing my face, putting on clothes, socks and shoes.
I couldn’t bend down to get my socks on and still cannot. But the sock thing was a helpful device. You just slip the sock onto the end, pull it up and voila!

The sock is on your foot and the thing is in your hand.
In the midst of my pain and struggles to work my way back to moving, walking and taking care of myself, the sock thing gave me moments of joy. It seemed like a magic trick. It’s easy and it works.
When I got home, I searched the internet to find one like it.  There are many such devices at a variety of prices, but I found mine  for less than $10.
My husband thinks I am susceptible to gimmicky products and infomercials. I guess I am a bit. But this thing is no gimmick. It delights me (seriously) ever time I use it. It just gives me a feeling of accomplishment. I don’t have to ask anyone else to put my socks on for me.
Anyone having trouble putting on socks (like those who suffer from back pain or arthritis) would benefit from this device.
No. 2. The No-Rinse Hair Wash Shower Cap
I first came across this during my first stint in rehab. When you are busy fighting to recover from a horrendous injury or disease, washing your hair is not a top priority. But, you do think about it.
One of my roommates, asked by the nurse if she needed anything (like her water pitcher refilled, for example), said this.  “I really need my hair shampooed. And I could use some color, too.”
It had been days since she had been in an accident that left her severely injured. She hadn’t even been given a sponge bath, much less a shampoo.
The nurse ignored the hair coloring request but told her about a  shampoo-in-a-cap that she could get. They had to special order it for the patients. I got in on the ordering (don’t know how long it had been since my hair was washed).
It’s another miraculous product. It looks like a bulky shower cap, but if you warm it up a bit in the microwave, stick it on your head and massage it in, you have hair that feels  like it’s been shampooed and rinsed. It smells great and it lifts your spirits.
Back when I had hair and was confined to a hospital bed, my shampoo routine consisted of a nurse -- as part of my sponge bath -- grabbing a washcloth, dunking it in the soapy solution and handing it to me. I rubbed it on my hair.
Sort of the opposite of those shampoo commercials where washing your hair looks fun and luxurious.
When I was released from the hospital, I sent my husband to our local medical supply store to find the magical shampoo caps. The shop had to special order them and they were not cheap, but I would supplement the washcloth treatment with what was almost a real shampoo every once in a while.
It was as close to luxurious as I was going to get.
As I heard about friends or relatives undergoing surgery or breaking bones, I realized you don’t have to be bedridden to appreciate these. Anyone who can’t take a shower for whatever reason could use them.
No. 3. The No-Rinse Body Cleanser
Ditto with this daily living aid.

One of the products the hospital nurses used was a gentle no-rinse soap that I brought home when I was discharged. 
I couldn’t physically get in the shower for some time after I came home from the hospital. My caregiver continued the sponge baths I received in the hospital. She used the solution that didn’t require rinsing.
Eventually I got strong enough to get in the shower by myself and sit on a shower bench, which I still do today. But the no-rinse product is always handy for a quick standing-up-at-the-sink freshening-up. And I bring it when I stay at hotels or homes that are not handicapped friendly -- meaning I cannot physically use the shower or bath.

A version of this product also comes in wipes, which would also be useful.


  1. Something that may also help for the hair is a dry shampoo. Suave makes some, easy to find and affordable! ! Also pretty easy to aplly, like spraying on hairspray.

    1. Thanks for the tip. Appreciate learning about anything that makes life easier.