"Life Hacks" for MSers
Last updated: July 2023
“Life hacks” are a popular internet trend right now. They are basically any trick or shortcut that makes life a little easier. People living with MS are definitely in need of some life hacks to help us save some time and energy, and maybe even maintain some independence.
This is a list of some hacks that I’ve picked up as a nurse, by talking to other MSers and while living with MS myself. Every product I list can be purchased online (but I’m in no way paid by or affiliated with any products), making them extra convenient!
In the bathroom
This is where most of us start and end our day, and there are a few ways to make things go a little more smoothly:
- Long-handled scrub brushes – The long handle means minimal bending and twisting in the tub and/or shower.
- Hair-washing trays – These allow a caregiver to easily wash hair in the sink while the recipient of the suds sits in a chair or wheelchair. It’s also great because you don't need to bend your neck at a painful angle to avoid making a mess.
- Walk-in tubs – These can be an expensive modification, but they are great for avoiding falls while trying to step in and out of the tub.
- Squatty-potty stool – This is a device that wraps around the toilet, which you place your feet on so you are in a squatting position over the toilet. Fellow MSers swear it’s really effective at helping alleviate constipation!
- Dexterity kits – Often include an adapter for a toothbrush, making the handle much thicker and therefore much easier to grasp.
- Shower chairs – These can make getting cleaned up a lot safer and easier.
- Toilet safety rails – They make adjustable, removable bars that fit right around the toilet you already have; no expensive home modification is necessary!
- Hands-free hairdryer holders/stands – These are so much easier on the arms!
Difficulty with fine motor skills can make getting dressed in the morning extremely frustrating! Here are a few devices meant to make this process a little bit easier:
- Zipper pulls – These are SO much easier than trying to maneuver small zipper tabs. One reader even suggested using a fork to accomplish the same thing!
- Magnetic button-down shirts – Originally developed for people with Parkinson’s disease, these look like regular shirts but the buttons are actually magnets that require almost zero fine motor skills.
- Jewelry helpers – These make working the clasps on necklaces and brackets so much easier!
- Dressing sticks and shoe horns – These will help you pull on clothing and shoes with minimal bending and twisting.
Getting out the door
You are cleaned up, dressed, and ready to go! Now WHERE did you put those keys? Here are a few basic tips to help your morning routine flowing smoothly:
- Plan ahead – Lay out items you need the night before so you are less likely to forget something in the morning.
- Assign everything a place – Keep your keys, wallet, purse, etc. in the same place all the time.
- Put items back in the place where you first looked for them, not where you ended up finding them. Maybe that first place you looked makes more sense to you.
- Leave yourself reminders – I like to slap a Post-it on my door so I don’t forget something important before leaving!
- Use your smartphone’s alarm clock to set reminders for yourself.
While you are out on the town
Alright, we are out the door! Are there some things that could make your day run a little more smoothly? Of course there are!
- A good pair of shoes– As a nurse, I have no shame in my shoe game. Comfort over style baby!
- HurryCane – I love this cane because it is extremely steady. It can be pretty easy to trip over standard canes, and personally, I think this one is easier to use.
- Walkers with a seat – Never expend energy looking for a place to rest again – it's a no-brainer!
- Plastic seat covers for your car – Sliding in an out of vehicles just got a whole lot easier!
- Ask wait staff to cut up your food before they bring it to the table while you are eating out if you struggle with using silverware.
- Carry straws with you to make drinking out of cups and bottles easier while you are on the go.
Tackle your chores
Let's be honest, this is often where we expend most of our energy. Fight the fatigue with these tricks:
- Grocery shopping – Many stores offer curbside pick-up or delivery. My store offers curbside pickup service for free – what a deal!
- Cleaning services – This is a luxury for many, but sites like Groupon.com and livingsocial.com often have great deals for cleaning services.
- Wash and fold laundry services – These generally aren’t expensive and can be a great way to save some energy.
- Reachers/grabbers – These can help with so many odd jobs around the house. Never risk falling off of a step stool if you don’t have to!
- Vegetable slicers – These decrease the risk of injuring yourself with sharp knives if you have any trouble with coordination or fine motor skills.
- Many of the bigger popular stores such as Target and Walmart will allow you to shop online and pick up your order at the store (if you aren’t a fan of just shopping online) for no additional charge. Sometimes you just don’t have the energy to wander up and down aisles!
- The US Postal Service will ship you packing supplies and then pick packages up right from your own home, completely eliminating the need to run to the post office.
- Dragon voice-to-text software – this can help at work and with basic tasks like emailing.
Around the house
Make your home work for you, not against you!
- Dexterity kits (again) – These include a ton of useful items that make turning keys, opening doors, using pens, and cutting food so much easier.
- Grab bars – Put them up in the shower, up the stairs, in the garage, or wherever you need them!
- Secure your throw rugs – Rugs are the No. 1 cause of falls at home. Velcro them or find a way to secure them so you don’t go sliding around!
- Pour Thing (actual name)/The Magic Tap – These devices make pouring drinks into a cup from large heavy containers a breeze. No lifting involved!
- Hand grips – These can fit over telephones, cups, electric razors, bottles, or hairbrushes for anyone who has trouble with their grip.
Staying on top of your healthcare needs
- Keep all of your important medical information organized and in one place.
- If you have trouble opening pill bottles, your pharmacist can provide you with easy-open lids.
- Use pill organizers to keep track of whether you have taken your daily medication or not.
- Use a calendar to remind you when you need prescriptions renewed by your doctor. Contact your pharmacy or physician at least one week before your prescription runs out!
- Search for phone apps. There are tons of apps to help MSers out there. Do a quick google search to find the most current ones that are out there.
There are so many products out there, and I'm sure I've left some awesome ones out! What tricks do you use to make your day go a little bit more smoothly?
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