It wasn’t long ago that I mentioned to Mom’s doctor that Mom’s arthritis makes it difficult for her to fully pull the shower diverter up. Not being able to do this meant one of two things. Either I had to do it for her. Or, if I didn’t, the tub would fill up while she showered because water was coming from both the faucet and the shower head. And her cognitive impairment meant she didn’t realize what was happening or how to make it not happen.
So, Mom’s doctor prescribed occupation therapy (OT). And it’s opened my eyes to all sorts of little tips and devices that we can easily, cost-effectively employ around the house to keep Mom as independent in her activities of daily living (ADL) as possible.
1. Foam Tubes for Grip Support
These are ingenious.
Designed to make holding things like a toothbrush or fork easier, Mom’s occupational therapists had a brainstorm for the tub diverter problem. Because you can cut these to size, she cut one about two inches in length. Then she poked a hole in one side so she could slip it over the knob of the diverter pull. Now, rather than having to grip in a pincer motion, it’s an easy-to-pull T.
Added bonus—I was worrying I might have to hire a plumber to replace the faucet with something easier for her. Now I don’t have to!
2. Bump Dots
How did I not know about these!!??!!
Bump dots are advertised for the blind, or those with low vision, by providing a tactile way to identify buttons, switches, and such. Think Braille. But they also provide more of a surface area for all those tiny buttons on the remote control, electric toothbrush, and microwave. Mom’s stiff, arthritic, weakening hands, as well as her vanity to not break her nails, meant that she struggled to turn the TV on, etc. She often used her knuckle. Not very effective and hard on already painful joint.
Bump dots come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. And although they adhere easily, they are not permanent.
Added bonus—I applied them to only those buttons on the remote control I want Mom to mess with. No more, “What buttons did you push?” while I try to get the TV back from whatever mess she made of it!
3. Easy Soap and Shampoo Dispenser
Mom has been struggling for a while with the bottles of soap, shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion in the shower. At first, it was all the differently shaped, colored, and marked bottles. She couldn’t tell conditioner from body lotion. Too may choices. Too many varied visual inputs that weren’t registering with her. So, I tried refillable plain pump bottles with a single label of what was inside.
Those worked for a bit. Until I noticed she was taking off the pumps, even when the bottle was full. She could ID the right product. But her hands made the pump motion too difficult. I brought this up to her therapist, who recommended a wall-mounted dispenser with big enough buttons that she can press it with her palm.
This model installs easily with heavy-duty two-side tape. No drilling into the tiles.
Added bonus—less clutter in the shower.
Having OT come into the house a few times a week has made such a difference in her quality of life. And mine. The more independent she is and feels, the happier she is. And the more normal she feels. For me, it is peace of mind that she can still be capable without me following her around the house like a hovering shadow. Just a few simple, ingenious tips and devices were all it took!