MS life hacks

“Life Hacks” for MSers

“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, 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 that 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– allow a caregiver to wash hair easily 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 in order to avoid making a mess.
  • Walk-in tubs– these can be an expensive modification but they are great for avoiding a fall 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 that 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 necessary!
  • Hands free hairdryer holders/stands– so much easier on the arms!

Getting dressed

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 then 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 parkinson’s patients 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– will assist you in pulling 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– being 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, 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 frequently have some 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, Walmart, and Bed Bath & Beyond  will allow you to shop online and pickup 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 e-mailing.

Around the House

Make your home work for you, not against you!

  • Dexterity kits (again)– 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 number one 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 you 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?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (32)
  • Colleen Fegan
    1 month ago

    I use an organizer made for craft supplies that has movable parts in it. I have it divided up for 28 slots.
    I fill it with my meds about 1 time per month. You have to make sure that the medication is not affected by the air or light. I also drop in those silica gel inserts in an empty slot to keep moisture level under control a LITTLE anyway..

  • ShelbyComito moderator
    1 month ago

    Great tip, @ms_n44vhi! Thank you so much for sharing! Best, Shelby, MultipleSclerosis.net Team Member

  • dawggrad
    4 months ago

    There are some great tips in both this article, and the comments. One thing that came to mind for me is that it might not hurt any of us to stop by the drive thru at the bank every month or two. It might not hurt to get $20 in ones or to get $50 in tens, fives and ones. I try to do this when I travel, but it’s probably not a bad idea to tip someone who goes out of their way to make life a little easier. I’m not talking about the scenarios that apply to everyone like the store pickup from the car, but the situations where someone comes out to our cars with a scooter or wheelchair, the situations where individuals go way above and beyond to make our lives a little easier.

  • sandydemop
    6 months ago

    1. Going to bed early (by 10pm) really helps me have a good morning the next day.
    2. I put All my appts in my phone.
    3. I take pictures of things (on my phone) that I want to remember.

  • Joyce12345
    7 months ago

    Great ideas!

  • TracyShudo
    8 months ago

    Hi this is my first time posting something to this site. I have been diagnosed for 23 years. About 2 years ago my mobility started to be come more of an issue. I love reading how others are HACKING their MS. I have small things I have been doing over time. But I like most people I have ever met that have MS we are most type A people. What I mean by that is we are doers, always have sometime to do. Personally more often than not it is for others. But I just kept trying to do everything I always did. Well what happened to me was the universe said your not listening to us so we will just shut you down. And so they did. Lesson learnt? Kind of, do less, take more time to do things. BIGGEST thing was to go off my MS DRUG and go 100% Natural. Ok guys this is NOT A SALES PITCH!!! its a share. Ok for 9 months I have been off MS Drugs. Dr said ok Tracy you have had MS for 23 years so you cant lift your left leg off the ground your going into secondary MS. Well that was not ok with me. I did that walk test we all do if we can still walk, had to have cane. Did it in 11.// seconds. Showed Dr the new 100 natural product I was just starting to take. He read the label and surged, 4 months later I come back to him to see about going on different MS drug. I did the walking test without a cane in 8 seconds and I am lifting my left leg off the ground. I said no I am not going back on a MS drug that has a side effect of killing me. Ok I am not curing my MS, still have a ton of issues, but man oh man I am bio hacking my body from the inside out. Today I don’t feel like I did 9 months ago where my MS had the control. I now have the control. Again not perfect but man oh man so much better. I love it when people think out side the box on things that can help them. The dog collars are a brilliant idea. We could fix you up with some cool paracord. Look on YouTube under how to make a paracord dog collar. Would cost more than the $ store but man you could make some fancy ones that people would look at and go cool. Again I just have to be doing something. Thanks all the hackers out there that are letting me share. Cheers Tracy from Vancouver Canada.

  • JDeabler
    10 months ago

    Stephanie,

    This a great article. As an MS nurse you know that this topic is always relevant to someone with MS, newly diagnosed, someone with a new symptom, someone who needs to make a new accommodation….glad you are keeping this current.

    A number of things I do/use to help with my MS have been mentioned in this article by you or the respondents. My #1 go to items are my cooling porducts-vest, ankle & wrist wraps and scarf! When I exercise, when I go to outdoor family outings or sporting events during the summer, when it is really humid or even when my temp spikes if I get sick (thankfully not often) cooling products have really helped. Pseudo exacerbation or not, I am not a fan of how I feel or that I can’t see or that I get extremely weak and too fatigued to function. They truly do help me to keep living my life and a good quality of life at that.

    For some people the cost can be prohibitive and insurance may or may not cover cooling products. There is help! Both the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA) and the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation have cooling programs, https://mymsaa.org/msaa-help/cooling-products/ and https://msfocus.org/Get-Help/MSF-Programs-Grants/Cooling-Program.

    Before summer hits and it’s already hot, I always recommend to my MS friends, right about this time (February), to be ahead of the rush and to get their products now!

    Hope this helps someone else like me that changes their life because of heat sensitivity.

  • Julie
    1 year ago

    Most large grocery stores offer pickup services. I shop online to place my order, they give a pickup time and they come out, load the groceries into my car for me! Genius!

    I’m also kind of neurotic about a place for everything. Everyone knows not to pick something up and put it down someplace else. It saves me a lot of looking because I can’t find it. Nothing will set me off quicker.

  • mjsms
    1 year ago

    Mostly I am in a wheel chair. When I want to lift my legs to transfer or get in a vehicle
    I use my leg straps. I buy dog collars @ the Dollar Tree store. They come in black or red. I wear them all day long and even in bed to help me roll over or get out of bed. I have been using them for 5 years. My husband teases me (for fun) & tells people when they ask- that I am a marionette. Gotta keep laughing.

  • TracyShudo
    7 months ago

    I did not reply to you directly but I love your idea. I said on my post on May 3rd that there is a product called paracord. You can order in on line and there are tones of different colours. Look on YouTube under how to make a paracord dog collar. Would cost more than the $ store but man you could make some fancy ones that people would look at and go cool. Good luck to you and thanks to much for sharing this hack. Tracy in Canada

  • l4u95h
    1 year ago

    After I was first DXed I was in the hospital for over a week. After I came home my husband bought me a pill box for the week. That has saved me big time. I just fill it on Saturday afternoon and it is for the whole next week.

  • Julie
    1 year ago

    Oh I have to have a pill box. I no longer have to wonder, “did I take my pills?”.

  • Juleigh
    1 year ago

    A big terrycloth robe is my go to when I get out of the shower. Minimal drying necessary with a bath towel. Conserves my energy for other tasks like dressing. An OT taught me this!

  • kathyga
    1 year ago

    For a great energy saver the Roomba vacuum cleaner by irobot is great and works very well. This robot vacuums rugs, floors and under furniture. I have 3 cats and a dog who shed fur like crazy. All you do is push a button and the robot does all the vacuuming. My husband bought me one that was used on Amazon $150.00, they are expensive new but it is definitely worth it.

  • sophiekerr
    1 year ago

    Keep a stool on wheels in your kitchen so you can sit while cooking at the stove. It really helps!

  • Rendeanne
    1 year ago

    I use Fiskars brand of scissors made for preschoolers to cut up my soft veggies and meats. The blades are not meant to cut skin and I have never cut myself using these. Usually when school starts you can buy them for $1 or less a pair and they are dishwasher safe. They easily cut up peppers, cheese, raw chicken, etc. I own several pair and replace them every year. My PT recommended this tip to me over 7 years again, not a cut since.

  • Ffrreedd
    1 year ago

    Use the SpillNot https://spillnot.myshopify.com/. It makes transporting a cup much easier. I use a power wheelchair and often get a cup of tea or coffee for my also disabled wife. NFI.

  • Erin Rush moderator
    1 year ago

    Thanks for sharing this, Ffrreedd! I am glad you found something that makes your life a little easier and thank you again for sharing the information with the community. Best, Erin, MultipleSclerosis.net Team Member.

  • thumper
    3 years ago

    Does anyone know of a product to help put on earrings for pierced ears?

  • Scott
    3 years ago

    I insert into the pierce, lean against the wall and try to balace the catch in my hand, after about 10 minutes of cussing to my self about why in the he## i took it out in the first place, i ask my wife for help 🙂

  • thumper
    3 years ago

    There are also great items available for the outdoors-Cooling Vests-Scarves,towels and hats. Water bottles and Ice Packs.Anybody know of other ways to coppe with temps. outside?

  • Julie
    1 year ago

    My neuro wrote up a letter for me stating my need for a cooling vest, I turned it and an application into the MS Society and I got one for free!

  • l4u95h
    1 year ago

    Don’t go outside! LOL I stay in with my air conditioner as much as I can.

  • Stephanie
    4 years ago

    What kind of jewelry helper do you recommend?

  • Stephanie Buxhoeveden, RN, MSCN author
    4 years ago

    It really depends on your specific dexterity issues. Some people like the “Bracelet Mate” (on Amazon.com for $3.99), but if you have a lot of fine motor control issues this may not be the best option. I have recently discovered magnetic clasp converters. They attach to any bracelet or necklace and eliminate the need to fiddle with tiny clasps, you just have to get the magnets to connect and you are on your way. The round ones that have a “locking” mechanism are my favorite ones, they have yet to come apart on me!

  • Oma
    4 years ago

    Has anyone tried the cooling towel and cooling cap from RealXGear?

  • Dee
    4 years ago

    Question. I need to go with my son in April to visit colleges in Boston. I know I’d never be able to walk that much. Rolling walker or wheel chair? I wonder if the colleges have WCs. Do disabled people use the subway? I’ll call the colleges at some point to ask these questions, just looking for some tips. I’m able to walk but legs fatigue 1/2 way through a grocery store.

  • TracyShudo
    8 months ago

    I bought a used potable scotter for this issue 2 yeas ago, comes apart so you can put it in trunk of car. Saves me. | used a power wheelchair in Mazatlan Mexico in Feb again saved my life. Below all info that Stephanie is giving you is great. Using the walker you will still get tired. So wheel chair is a way better idea. REMEMBER EVEYONE!!! THESE ARE TOOLS!!! I know so many people who wont use a cane, you would rather fall down? Lord knows I did more time’s than I can count. Don’t any more. I now use all the tools I need to so I can still get out there. Have a great trip!!!

  • mario lobo
    3 years ago

    Hi Dee.
    I live in the Boston area. Our public transportation system is only partially HP/wheelchair accessible. The most comprehensive accessibility information that I’m able to put my hands on about our public transportation system, called the MBTA, or just “The T”, is here:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MBTA_accessibility#Subway

    You definitely should check with the hotels about wheelchairs. Most either have them, or will rent one for you, in advance of your arrival. I work at a college and our admission department makes all kinds of accommodations for students and their families to make touring our campus a completely accessible experience. Most colleges in the area do the same, but letting them know in advance is your best bet.

    Best of luck on the college search and I hope you enjoy Boston!
    Mario

  • Stephanie Buxhoeveden, RN, MSCN author
    4 years ago

    I’m not very familiar with the Boston public transit system, but I agree that calling the college is a good idea! The hotel you are staying in may also have a wheelchair you can use while you are in town or if not they may know of a way to rent one. The hotel should also know how handicap accessible the transit system is etc…If all else fails you can also try contacted the Boston area’s branch of the MS Society. Let us know how things go!

  • rednancy
    4 years ago

    If you shop at Walmart you can call the service desk and ask for someone to bring out a scooter to your car to use for shopping!

  • BonnieB
    4 years ago

    Thank you, Stephanie. A few of these are new to me and might be very helpful.

    Something you might want to add to your list is an amazing solution to difficulty getting out of a car, the Handybar 3-in-1 Vehicle Support Handle. When you open the car door, you just hook it onto the big metal loop on all car doors. Both the handle and car door loop are extremely strong so it’s a stable support for any weight and right where you need that to be. Makes it so easy to get out of the car with the added benefit that you can take it with you to use in any vehicle.

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