Life Hacks For People With Multiple Sclerosis
“Life Hacks” are a popular trend sweeping the internet, so I decided to make a list of my own life hacks for people with MS. These are tips, tricks, and products specifically intended to make life a little easier. Every little bit of energy saved is a little win for us, and every task we complete independently can be a big win! So here is my list so far, and please let me know what tricks and/or products you have up your sleeve! All products have links to where you can learn more about them, and even purchase them if you want to!
Many MSers have problems with fine motor skills, meaning doing intricate motions with our hands. All of the sudden simple things like cutting up vegetables or turning a key can become difficult if not impossible. Here are some things to make life a bit easier:
Dexterity kits that fit over keys, toothbrushes, utensils, and pens so that the grip is fatter and easy to grab. Additional tip: in the hospital we make these for patients by wrapping a small washcloth around the handles of utensils and securing them with a rubber band. It’s a little on the thick side, but it’s low cost!
Magnetic button down shirts- they look like the real deal, but close with strong magnets which eliminates difficult to maneuver buttons.
Jewelry helpers- because the accessories make the outfit, but first you need to be able to get them on!
Dressing sticks and shoe horns- they can help you pull on clothing and shoes independently
Long handled scrubber- a lifesaver in the shower!
Hair washing trays allow hair to be easily washed in the sink from a seated position for those in a wheelchair, or if you are trying to avoid getting an IV wet.
So you are clean and dressed and ready to go, but you can’t ever seem to leave the house without forgetting something! Or you always waste time in the morning looking for lost items, ugh! What to do?
Put important items under your keys, or in your shoes the night before.
Put items back in the place you first looked for them, not where you ended up finding them.
Put your keys in the same place every day when you get home.
Put a post it note on the door with reminders so you see it right before you leave.
Set an alarm on your phone when you think of it…8am- don’t forget to bring that form today!
Out and About
Alright, you successfully made it out the door! But what are some things that could help you navigate around a little more efficiently?
Footwear! It’s important to wear practical shoes, whatever that may mean to you. If you have foot drop wear supportive shoes, preferably ones that come up the ankle and have a firm, supportive sole.
Canes like the HurryCane can optimize your ability to get around.
Walkers with a seat eliminate the need to make sure there’s a place to sit and rest while out and about.
Plastic covers over your car seat make it easier to slide in and out of the car.
Everyday things that most people do without thinking twice can be the first things that we loose the ability to do because of fatigue or disability. Here are some simple tips:
Many grocery stores offer grocery curbside pick up or delivery. Mine offers curbside pick up service FOR FREE. No brainer (especially during a relapse).
Wash and fold laundry service- it’s often inexpensive and can be a life changer in a pinch.
Check sites like Groupon or LivingSocial for deals on house cleaning services to spare yourself some energy during a rough patch.
Reachers can help with virtually every task around the house. Double bonus if you use the kiddie dinosaur ones.
Get address labels, seems simple but not having to write out your address every time is pretty nice.
Having trouble with metal tabs on soda or caned food? Slip a hair tie underneath and pull!
Again, dexterity kits can help with so many tasks from turning keys, to cutting food.
Vegetable slicers decrease risk of injury if you have any trouble at all with coordination or fine motor skills
Dragon voice-to-text software works really well and can alleviate a lot of hassle! I know from experience that it works really well.
USPS will send you packing supplies and pick up packages right from your home, save yourself a trip to the post office!
Many popular stores like Target, Best Buy, Walmart, and Bed Bath & Beyond let you shop online and pick up at the store, no more wondering the aisles!
Make Your Home Work For You
Grab bars in the shower, up the stairs, wherever!
Tape or velcro your rugs down, tripping on rugs is the #1 to fall and hurt yourself at home!!
Toilet safety rails- they are adjustable and fit right around the toilets you already have making them an inexpensive way to adapt your home
Bring straws with you to make drinking easier on the go, or use water bottles with straws that don’t require lifting and maneuvering.
At restaurants you can ask the wait staff to cut up your food before bringing it to the table.
Cool down drinks fast before a spontaneous outdoor adventure- wrap a canned or bottled drink in a wet paper towel and stick it in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Don’t forget your cooling gear!
Evaporation is the fastest, most effective method of cooling off. Mister fans are therefore essential!
For anyone in the NYC area the Theater Development Fund has a great accessibility program, it’s free to join and tickets to broadway and other music and theater productions are steeply discounted. Even better, they guarantee accessible seating based on your individual needs!
Compile all your medical information in one easily accessible place, check out this post on how to keep organized by making your own chart.
Your pharmacist will replace difficult to open child-safety lids with easy open ones if you ask.
Trouble reaching around to inject your arm? Sit on the couch and press your upper arm against the back or arm of the sofa, now you can easily reach the fatty part of your arm from underneath.
Use pill organizers!
Keep reminders on you calendar reminding you when you need to have prescriptions renewed with your doctor. Contact your pharmacy or your doctor for refills at least a week before your prescription runs out!
Set alarms or use one of these great phone apps to remember to take your medications.
On Copaxone? They also have a great phone app to help you keep track of you injection sites and it will also remind you when it’s time to take your shot.
There are also many great phone apps that combine learning resources with medication trackers. Check out the top 10 apps for MS here.
So just remember, if there’s a will there’s a way! What other life hacks have you discovered?