Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Balancing Disability with Family Life

Animated frog in showerHaving struggled with aspects of daily life, after being diagnosed with SPD in 2006 and then herniated discs a few years later, I know how hard it can be when things that used to be second nature suddenly become trickier. There are various aspects to consider, beyond the obvious physical challenges presented by such basic processes as bathing and dressing. For example, it's exhausting negotiating barriers from the second you wake up in the morning. It's also humiliating. No self-respecting adult is going to enjoy discussing their difficulties with getting dressed or washing, let alone having to get help with it. So, if you are the partner of someone who is struggling with a disability, or are a sufferer yourself, how can you make things easier? 

Produced in association with Premier Bathrooms

Firstly, don't underestimate how much everyday life is challenging you. The worst thing about having mobility problems, or other limitations, is that often they come on gradually and it's easy to just learn to adapt and adjust your life to accommodate your additional needs. However, over a period of time, the whole situation can become overwhelming and it's at this point that it may be time to start considering what changes you could make, to ease the strain and switch the focus back to enjoying life without getting bogged down from pain and discomfort that could be avoidable. 

The Little Things...

Keeping a diary for a week or so is a good way to establish which areas of your life are giving you the most hassle. It could be anything; putting on your socks, using the oven, getting in and out of the car. In many cases, there might be a simple, low cost solution that would make a world of difference. Here are some of my favourite tips for solving some common disability-related issues simply and cheaply. 

  • Dropping Things

It's amazing how often you seem to drop things when picking them up again is a challenge! You can buy a grabber in many discount stores that will do the job for you for just a few pounds. It's fun to play with too! 

  • Negotiating The Car

Getting in and out of a car is something a lot of disabled people struggle with, because it's not always easy to get each leg in the car separately, it has to be a single movement, with legs together. A physiotherapist once told me I should imagine I was an elegant film star potentially being filmed! One simple trick to make it less awkward is to have a plastic shopping bag on the seat to sit on. It makes it so much easier to slide round, by reducing the friction from the car seat fabric. 

  • Shoes and Socks

There are a few ideas for putting on shoes and socks. Buying bigger socks is a good place to start. Particularly if you use a tumble dryer, they shrink a little over time, causing an unnecessary struggle when putting them on! You can also buy a long-handled shoe horn to assist with putting on shoes. My favourite cheat for this issue though, is fur-lined clogs! They are brilliant if you just want to go out for a little while and don't want to battle with shoes and socks, they are warm enough for short venturings, even in winter ithout socks. These are fur-lined crocs, but you can buy them eslewhere too. I got mine in Aldi! 

The Bigger Ones... 

Some problems can take more money and imagination to fix, such as the bathing issue. Wet rooms are a popular, but expensive solution, and they also take up a lot of space. There is certainly a lot of appeal to just being able to walk into a room without having to do the bath-hurdle when all you actually want is a shower. The problem for families, though, particularly with young children, is how do you fit in a bath as well? A preferred option, if space is an issue and you want to try to please everyone, is a walk-in bath, such as this one, from Premier Bathrooms. It removes the need to hurdle the side of the bath, looks lovely and means you can still have an over-bath shower, saving precious space in an average-sized bathroom. 

There are other investments that could also be worth considering, such as a rise and recliner chair, for standing with ease, or a bed-raiser, to start the morning off with less drama. Money is often an issue for these bigger areas, so it may be worth finding out if there are any grants or discounts available to you. The Occupational Therapist at the local council is a good place to start. Hopefully keeping a diary will help prioritise what will give you the most benefit in your everyday life, it's sometimes surprising what causes the most problems without people even realising! 

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