Cordless telephones allow people with impaired mobility to carry their phone at all times, so they do not have to get up to answer the phone. An answering machine can also limit the need for rising to answer the phone by screening out unwanted calls. Telephones have many features today that can be helpful to someone with physical and cognitive impairments. Phones with large buttons are easier to dial for people with impaired fine motor coordination (Mann, 1998). People who have difficulty holding the receiver can use voice-activated phones, hands-free headsets, or speakerphones. Lastly, the memory dial feature of a phone or a list of frequently called numbers can be especially beneficial for people with impaired memory.
For people who have mild memory impairment, medication organizers can be helpful. Some watches can also be set to sound an alarm at appropriate times to remind the person to take their medication. Paging systems may be used to remind the person to take a specific medication at a certain time. The person with hemiplegia may have to request medications be put in an easy to open container, something other than a childproof container that can be opened with one hand.
Items that will be used for food preparation should be within easy reach. Lazy Susans can make it easier to get to items that would normally be stored in the rear of cabinets. Pull-out racks in lower cabinets can make it easier to get the items stored there (Mann, 1998) (Fig. 10.5).
Several items can be helpful in the kitchen for someone with a neurologic injury or disease. Cutting boards with pins and clamps to hold food in place are helpful for those who need to prepare food with one hand (Abledata, 2004). A pan holder holds
a hot pan in place while the cook stirs with one hand. Burner guards also help keep pans from sliding off burners. A variety of jar openers make it possible to open a jar using one hand. Electric can openers and power-operated corkscrews make it easier to open cans and bottles with one hand. Lightweight dishes facilitate transporting dishes. An automatic dishwasher will help prevent fatigue from standing and doing dishes by hand.
Microwave ovens can be used to ease food preparation. They may be a better option for those with mild memory impairment who may forget about foods they were cooking on the stove, or forget to turn the stove off. Cooking time in a microwave is significantly less than with a conventional oven or stove, which may be beneficial for someone with diminished activity tolerance. Also, burns from cooking are not as likely with a microwave oven. This is especially important for a person with decreased sensation. Multi-use containers make food preparation and storage easier by allowing the individual to use the same container for cooking and refrigerating leftovers. Often store-bought frozen foods come in a dish that is microwaveable. Countertop devices may be helpful such as: a toaster oven, an automatic shut off coffeepot, or a toaster.
AT for shopping
For people with impaired mobility, some of their shopping can be done over the phone or with a computer.
When the individual travels to a store, scooters with baskets or walkers with baskets and seats are helpful (Mann, 1998). Also, using a cart or backpack may be helpful in carrying items home from the store.
Mann et al. (1995a, March) found the types of activities most missed by older stroke survivors living at home were sports, crafts, and long walks. The article points out that these are all leisure activities and often leisure is not a focus of intervention. Many devices are available to assist people with leisure activities following a brain injury. Card holders and card shufflers are available for people with decreased fine motor coordination, or who are only able to use one hand (Abledata, 2004). A television remote with large buttons is easier to use for someone with decreased fine motor coordination or visual disturbances. A sewing machine with an attached magnifier may help people with visual disturbances. High-intensity lighting can help people who are having difficulty seeing their project. Crochet and knitting aids are also available to allow for one-handed work.
Several types of writing aids are available for people who have difficulty grasping or controlling a pen. If writing with a pen or pencil is too difficult or impossible, a computer may be used for word processing. Many computer interfaces can be used if a standard keyboard is not feasible. Schweitzer et al. (1999), discussed the case of a man who survived a stroke and used a computer for word processing to compensate for difficulty formulating thoughts and putting them on paper.
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