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  • User’s Manual for the Physically Challenged

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    This topic contains 19 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Anonymous 10 months, 2 weeks ago.

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    • #203065 Reply

      geekdom
      AskWoody Plus

      User’s Manual for the Physically Challenged
      Version 1.0

      This manual is designed for the person who has difficulty with some basic tasks, but who is not what I would consider severely disabled. Many elderly might be able to use this manual. Those who have hand or mobility impairment could also use this manual. The chronically physically challenged are going to find some help here. I hope it will teach you how to do some things more easily than are presented to the physically fit. You might get better; you might get worse, but this manual is still here to provide some answers to your everyday challenges, that in my opinion, shouldn’t be challenges. Life is already hard enough.

      What is offered here are suggestions only and your mileage may vary. If you have caregivers, physical and occupational therapists, or physicians, I suggest you follow their leads and directions

      This booklet has been broken up by tasks. Each chapter includes simple, useful directions for learning how to do tasks by yourself or with minimal assistance. No special tools required, although there are some available anywhere basic supplies that may prove useful. Each chapter gets a separate post.

      1.    Clothing
      2.    Home Food and Eating
      3.    Restaurant Dining
      4.    Hygiene
      5.    Mobility
      6.    Shopping
      7.    Some Available Anywhere Basic Supplies
      8.    Managing computer and Communications
      9.    Other Things

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    • #203069 Reply

      geekdom
      AskWoody Plus

      Chapter 1: Clothing

      • If you have hand dexterity problems, I suggest avoiding shoestrings. Buy children’s or adult shoes with Velcro fasteners. For a little while you aren’t going to be a fashion plate, but you will be presentable and most importantly you will have done it yourself.

      • Forget fancy shoes, what you need are robust, sturdy shoes.

      • Needlenose pliers can be used for zipping zippers, as well as other tasks. Keep needlenose pliers handy.

      • Find the local thrift shop and buy shirts that can be pulled over your head. Buy a bunch. You can be wrong a lot and it won’t cost too much. You might get tired of wearing the same ones day after day and you can always recycle them to the thrift shop without regret.

      • Button shirts before pulling them over your head; leave them buttoned through the wash.

      • If you can’t manage buttons, get needlenose pliers, push the tips through the buttonhole, grab the button with the pliers and pull it back through the button hole.

      • Stretch shirts are good. Stretch pants (elastic) are probably good, too, if you are so inclined. They are much easier to put on.

      • Try tube socks or oversize socks. Grab the edges and pull them up. Ankle socks are just fine, too. They are easier to get on than something that is snug.

      • If you live in a colder area, get mittens, not gloves. You probably aren’t able to push fingers into each individual slot. Mittens are easier to manage.

      • Practice getting dressed. Practiced getting undressed. This is about building independence. It doesn’t have to be elegant, it just has to be done.

      • Sit down to put your clothes on. Pulling on shirts is particularly difficult without a sense of balance.

      • All of this is easier written than done. I know it feels like starting over. Get over it and go for the results.

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      • #203077 Reply

        Elly
        AskWoody MVP

        One does not have to abandon style when avoiding shoelaces that tie. Check out no-tie elastic shoe laces… some examples are SlackLace, Hickies, Xpand, and Riplaces.

        I have to have help getting them on the shoe, but once that is done, I’m good to go.

        For men, there are even flat dress laces (sort of boring from my point of view, but I can see times when it is important to blend in).

        Check out The 10 Best Elastic No Tie Shoelaces.

        Now, if there were cords as easy for the mess at the back of my desktop… or connectors that were more forgiving of my shaky hands and bad eyes… especially those USB connectors on my laptop! I can really mess those up!

        Win 7 Home, 64 bit, Group B

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    • #203072 Reply

      geekdom
      AskWoody Plus

      Chapter 2: Home Food and Home Eating

      • Start with finger foods. Nearly everything will be finger foods, but start with them anyway.

      • Use small, plastic bowls. When you carry the food from counter to table, food will not slide out of a small bowl to the floor.

      • Graduate to a small, plastic plate. Put small portions on the plate. When you carry food from counter to table, less food will slide off the plate to the floor.

      • Finger foods are such things as: cheese squares, nuts, corn chips, crackers, anything you can pick up with your fingers and get to your mouth without too much difficulty.

      • Use a spoon, if you can’t manage a knife and fork. Grasp the spoon in your fist like a two-year old. It’s okay, not pretty, but okay all the same. Your goal is to eat. Finesse comes later.

      • Graduate to a fork once you feel competent with the spoon. A fork has tines and it’s not real friendly. It’s fine to drop back to the spoon.

      • Use a regular knife, not a knife with a sharp edge. A regular knife can be used for most things. Stay away from sharp-edged knives.

      • Bread is good. You can break loaves with your hands and don’t have to cut anything.

      • If you have cheese blocks, and not prepackaged cheese squares, break a portion of the block off.

      • Packaging is a big problem. Get a pair of children’s scissors, rounded tips, but sharp on the edges, to cut open food packaging.

      • Use smaller, plastic cups for drinking. Fill them only two-thirds full. Avoid hot drinks. Things spill.

      • Use both hands when carrying drinking cups from the counter to table. If you must hang onto something to move from place to place, use one hand to port yourself and the other hand for the cup. Alternately, set the cup on the seat of a walker and port the cup on the walker.

      • Make sure you have napkins or towels available to clean spills.

      • Avoid extremely hot and extremely cold foods. Life is going to be bland for a little while.

      • Avoid foods that require oven cooking. From refrigerator to table works well.

      • The microwave is your friend, but remember plates and food can get too hot, and you can get burned either eating or moving food.

      • Take your time.

      • Avoid Styrofoam cups for a little while. If motor control is not good, chances are you will send your fingers or thumb through the cup.

      • Fresh fruits are important. Try fresh grapes. The banana might work. Dried fruits are available. Dried apple chips are tasty.

      • Try trail mixes. I know, you have to break into the bag, but that’s what the scissors are for.

      • Take a walk through your grocery store to see what will work for you.

      • Use a nutcracker to open screw-top bottled water.

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      • #203081 Reply

        Elly
        AskWoody MVP

        Stay away from sharp-edged knives.

        So true! Food should not require blood sacrifice!

        Sort of combining clothes and food… I dislike bibs… I end up using the thrift shop tops when eating, so that any grease stains can just be thrown out at the end. I go through a lot of t-shirts, but they make great rags for cleaning… don’t have to buy paper towels. A roll of paper towels costs about as much as a thrift shop t-shirt, and I get more use out of the t-shirt!

        They also do nicely (when clean) to gently wipe the dust and fingerprints off my computer.

        Win 7 Home, 64 bit, Group B

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        • #203085 Reply

          Microfix
          Da Boss

          @elly, Liking your initiative and recycling mindset 🙂

          ********** Win7 x64/x86 | Win8.1 x64 | Linux Hybrids x64 **********

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          • #203114 Reply

            Elly
            AskWoody MVP

            I was into recycling way before I had to apply it to current needs. I love re-purposing items. Do you have any idea of how many things can be done with old DVD/CD disks? Great crafts for the grand kids… from seasonal Christmas decorations to a model of the solar system.

            And I got my grandson a too old, not working computer to take apart, just so we could take a look at what was there, research some of the parts and learn what they do… with no thought that it might be made to work again… and then the parts were used in crafts (boys like the wires and boards and stuff). Robot stick figure armies, with the case for a fort… who’d of thunk? Even dead USB drives have a nice shape for crafting things like that…

            Of course, living in a household with kids, they are under strict instructions as to what is theirs to use (crafting box) and what is completely, totally, hands off (the rest of the house). Recycling/crafting keeps them much more engaged than store bought toys… and they come up with things that are useful, or decorative, or fun(ny). We use cardboard, plastic, wood, wires, bits of metal, etc. Lots of glue. Oldest is learning to sodder.

            Oh… and those t-shirts can be made into tote-bags, too, useful for sorting and keeping supplies in the crafting area. You can see that I’m used to it!

            Win 7 Home, 64 bit, Group B

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            • #203123 Reply

              Microfix
              Da Boss

              I used to do that with PC’s years ago for a salvage friend of mine, test parts from broken systems in order to create a donor system. Local businesses used to throw PC’s out with hard-drives removed when upgrading their network systems, he would collect them, I’d test and sort them, then he would donate them to charities or kids groups. Things changed and he stopped doing that due to some computer legislation. Now it’s just a throw away culture, which is a shame really..

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            • #203156 Reply

              anonymous

              Not knowing what was the legal difficulty with giving them away, would selling them for one dollar, instead, be legally allowed?

    • #203073 Reply

      geekdom
      AskWoody Plus

      Chapter 3: Restaurant Dining

      • If you need to, in a restaurant, use a spoon and grip the spoon like a two-year old.

      • The wait staff is not going to laugh nor smirk for several reasons:

      1. You are paying for their services.
      2. If this is a normal restaurant, there are several two-year olds who are behaving precisely like two-year olds and everyone within hearing distance wishes they wouldn’t behave like two-year olds.

      • Consider starting at a restaurant with sandwiches or hamburgers.

      • Consider heading to a fast food restaurant for practice. Nobody cares how you eat there.

      • In a restaurant, ask for extra napkins. Chances are you are going to drop them.

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    • #203076 Reply

      geekdom
      AskWoody Plus

      Chapter 4: Hygiene

      • Get haircuts, shampoo, and brush or comb your hair.

      • Get regular dental care and brush your teeth.

      • Sponge baths are possible.

      • Wash regularly. You may not be able to smell yourself, but other people can.

      • Change your clothes daily. Fresh shirt, socks, and underwear at a minimum.

      • Hang handicap rails in your own bathroom. These are for your safety.

      • If you leave home for any period of time, use your facilities before you leave.

      • When out and about, if you need facilities, find what is euphemistically known as a “one-holer” so that you can set someone outside the door to get you if you have difficulties. For multiple use facilities, wait until the coast is clear and park someone outside the door.

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    • #203311 Reply

      geekdom
      AskWoody Plus

      Chapter 5: Mobility

      •  Many tools can be used for mobility. Here are the most common from lesser to greater.

      1. Stick or cane. Try the thrift shops first.

      2. Ubiquitous aluminum walker (usually with tennis balls). Try the thrift shops first as these things are everywhere.

      3.  Three wheelers with brakes. Try online or possibly a retail big box. These things look like a standing tricycle for adults. If you have balance problems, you may wish to avoid them, They do, however, pack fairly compactly.

      4.  Four wheelers with brakes and seat. These are definitely the Mercedes of walker vehicles. Try online, pharmacies, or retail big box store. The seat has multiple uses. Use the seat to hold stuff while you wheel around, then unload the stuff, and sit in the seat.

      •  Learn to crawl. Really.

      •  Stairs are awkward. Turn sideways, grab the rail with both hands, and crab your way up sideways. Alternately, face forward, take one step with one foot, bring the other foot beside it, then take the next step. Hold onto the rail. What elevator? Many older buildings don’t have elevators.

      •  Uneven pavement, sidewalks, curbs, streets with pedestrian crossings are problematic. I wish I had answers, but too many drivers, bicyclists, skateboarders don’t check for pedestrians. Classic line: “I didn’t see you.” You be alert.

      •  Park up close and personal to your destination and do whatever errands at non-peak times.

      •  Avoid narrow aisles, people congestion and crowds, and blocked doorways. Keep your fingers out of door jams. What do you think will happen when you or someone else lets go of the door?

      •  Stay as mobile as possible.

      •  When medical professionals suggest and demonstrate exercises, do the exercises. It’s called homework. Practice, practice, practice.

      •  Backing up may prove difficult. Chart a forward path.

      •  All of this is about as much fun as watching grass grow, but it’s progress. Who said anything about fun?

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    • #203342 Reply

      geekdom
      AskWoody Plus

      Chapter 6: Shopping

      •    Make lists of needed items and where to get them.

      •    Shop at stores where there are carts. You can push carts and place purchases in the carts.

      •    Avoid big box stores unless necessary. Traversing a large, big box store is time-consuming and tiring. Parking is impossible.

      •    Consider dollar stores. Most dollar stores carry necessary items like paper towels, toilet paper, and cleaning supplies at low prices. Some now include food items. Many dollar stores are smaller and have carts. You can park at the front door.

      •    Shop at thrift shops for certain items. Some thrift shops have carts. Shirts and slacks come in three sizes: too large, too small, and just right. Ignore tag size and instead estimate size. Thrift shops also carry necessities such as walkers, tables, carts, containers. Think useful and clean or wash everything before use.

      •    Shop online. Get a small post office box and have items shipped there. Many companies with online presence offer free shipping to you (not to them) if you purchase a nominal amount. Make your list and load up. These companies will also let you know when your purchase is delivered. Go to the post office after notification.

      •    Hardware stores have weird useful tools in a “cheap” bin: screwdrivers, pliers, hammers, putty knives. Get a cart and load up carefully.

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    • #203513 Reply

      geekdom
      AskWoody Plus

      Chapter 7: Some Available Anywhere Supplies

      These are items that can be used in different ways to fit your needs.

      •    Self-Adhesive Stretch Bandage Wrap: This product goes by many names. If you go to the Big River and type “medical stretch wrap” without the quotes, you will see many products. This stuff sticks to itself, but not anything else. Use it where you need a good grip. Wrap it around doorknobs to provide traction. Found online, pharmacies, farm supplies as veterinary wrap.

      •    Needlenose and Other Pliers: All sizes and types. When your hands won’t work right, these pliers will. They are particularly useful for those whose opposable thumbs aren’t opposable. Use them to button shirts or grip screws or other small items. Found everywhere.

      •    Screwdrivers: All sizes and types. (Remember: rightsy tightsy, lefty loosy.)  Found everywhere.

      •    Putty Knives: Small, Medium, Large. Use these to scrape gunk off floors. They don’t have particularly sharp edges and you can get a grip on them. Found everywhere.

      •    Paintbrushes: All sizes with soft bristles. Brush dust and dirt off stuff. Found everywhere.

      •    Kitty Litter (Factory Fresh): In winter spread outside liberally; it provides traction for ice and snow. For emergency inside flood control, spread where the water pool formed. It soaks up stuff. Found at dollar stores in 20-pound bags.

      •    Newspaper: Spread on the floor when you think things are going to get messy. Found everywhere.

      •    Cardboard. If you drop something on the floor, put the cardboard down beside it, and push the item onto the cardboard; then pick up the cardboard. Found everywhere.

      •    Nightlight. Useful for those nighttime trips, before you get the overhead light on. Found everywhere.

      •    Emergency Lights. When the electricity goes out, these go on. There are battery powered lanterns and flashlights. Found everywhere.

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    • #203817 Reply

      geekdom
      AskWoody Plus

      Chapter 8: Managing Computer and Communications

      •    Make sure you have a full-size computer keyboard. You are going to mash keys together or mash the wrong keys, but a bigger keyboard is easier to type on.

      •    Make sure you have a good-size monitor. Squinting or pressing your nose to the screen is bad practice.

      •    Make sure your computer and peripherals are on a solid, large foundation. Large desks work well (5 foot length by 3 foot width).

      •     If you have a tower, it may be placed on top the desk.

      •    Your peripherals including printer can be placed on the desk.

      •    Make sure your printer has front loader for paper and you can change cartridges easily.

      •    Anything that has a plug gets plugged into a surge protector/battery backup.

      •    Keeping everything off the floor will make it easier to plug and unplug all devices from each other and the surge protector/battery backup.

      •    Gravity always wins. Put padding under everything including the desk. When you drop your backup drive, it doesn’t become your former backup drive.

      •    Use a flashlight, if you need to, to plug everything together.

      •    Velcro strips for cords are available.

      •    Find a comfortable office chair.

      •    Fill forms out using your computer.

      •    If you need to practice writing or printing, print off grids and practice writing a character to each square. Decrease the size of the grids.

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    • #203818 Reply

      geekdom
      AskWoody Plus

      Chapter 9: Other Things

      •    Keep what medical records you need on your computer including doctor names, phone numbers, and prescription information. Physically challenged people usually have multiple doctors and your computer does your remembering for you.

      •    Create question lists for caregivers, doctors, and everyone else as needed. These questions  are probably better created on your computer and neatly presented as document so you will be taken seriously, so you don’t forget anything, so you can drag the topic back on target if it goes off target, and so you can get an answer.

      •    If you have a caregiver or someone with you when you are out and about, people tend to ignore you and instead address the person beside you. Instruct your caregiver beforehand not to answer on your behalf. When someone addresses the caregiver, say to that someone: “Please address me. I am the person supplying and requesting information.” You.are.not.invisible.

      •    There are those who will make assumptions and present you with advice. Your reply: “I am under doctor’s care.”

      •    Develop a positive attitude. You are still breathing.

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    • #205502 Reply

      OscarCP
      AskWoody Plus

      I am left-handed, and would hope that to the advice given in this admirable series of postings, geekdom might also add something about the likes of me when it comes to using scissors. The ones sold in the usual kind of stores are invariably designed for the right hand, and can be really hard to use with the left one, even for able-bodied people, because the “eyes” in each leg are shaped to fit in the other hand. There are places that sell such items for lefties, but I only know of one in the UK, not here in the US.

      I have been physically disabled a few times and only for a while, because of some illness, in the past, and can really appreciate some of the advice given here, but am not permanently disabled, yet. That said, is not unreasonable to think about it for anyone that is getting on in years.

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    • #239224 Reply

      bellelyn
      AskWoody Lounger

      Hi Geekdom:

      Thank you for your concern. I have been disabled since I was three years old, polio. I am in my 60’s now, so much of this is second nature to me. I will read thru them all, but the few I read, I pretty much learned all of these tips just by being disabled and having to come up with solutions that fit me living in a non-disabled world.
      But, thank you again. Bellelyn

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    • #239237 Reply

      Anonymous

      Hi Bellelyn,

      My husband had polio at the age of seven.  He did quite well until now in his early 70’s he needs crutches and a scooter to get around.  It’s called “post polio” – as survivors age they sometimes get weaker and unfortunately the medical profession does not do research because polio is no longer a threat.  — It sounds like you are manging very well and like my husband you do everything possible to thrive.  Thanks Geekdom for this topic.  My husband is lucky that he has upper body strength and can still climb stairs if there are two rails.  Sooner or later we all have to make adjustments — thanks for this topic and for listening!

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