A lot of people ask me about the products and aids that I currently use (or have used in the past) to improve my quality of life. And while I’m sure there are at least a few disability products catalogs out there, I thought I would use this post to cover some of the products that have helped me, a sort of hodgepodge mix of chronic illness and disability items that have made my life easier over the years. I have personally used each of these products over the course of my illness, some of which I still use today.
The longer I live with my chronic illness and disability, the more I realize how crucial these types of disability products and aids are. In many ways, things like wheelchairs, shower chairs, and gurneys are our lifeline, the way we survive and function in a largely inaccessible world.
A quick note about the disability products and the affiliate links in this post: Some of these items are what I (and I suspect most people) would consider expensive. I often fundraised to buy them and did so over several years, so please don’t feel obliigated to buy any of them. And if you need something on this list but can’t afford it, consider fundraising. There are lots of lovely people out there who can help you get what you need.
As for me, I am using the affiliate links in this post to help support myself and my blog. They provide a small percentage of any purchases made using the links. This includes any additional items you buy with the items linked to this post. So if you really want to help out, bundle an item from this post with the rest of your Amazon cart. I would be grateful!
9. EZ-ACCESS Inflatable Body Washing Basin
I know this one sounds a little dubious starting with “E-Z Access,” but I promise it’s nothing R-rated or NSFW. This inflatable disabled bathtub was a game changer for me.
Until recently, I was too debilitated to get to the bathroom to shower, so I used this inflatable tub instead. It gave me a little sense of normalcy during tough times when bathing was a struggle. There’s nothing quite like a warm bath or shower, and for a long time, this was the closest thing I had to that.
My caregivers used to lay it on my mattress deflated, then I scooted onto it and they inflated it, the plastic filling with air around me. Then I used a shower wand, which comes with the tub and connects to the bathroom sink faucet.
When I was done bathing, the water drained through a hose connected to the bottom of the inflatable tub (this part needs to hang off the mattress). And that was it.
It isn’t a disabled walk in bathtub, but it really makes a difference if you are bedridden and struggling to bathe. Before I found it, I was literally bathing with a washcloth, a bucket of water, and a spray bottle. I definitely recommend this inflatable bathtub for a disabled person like me.
8. Forcemech Navigator – All Terrain Folding Electric Wheelchair
A few years ago, as my health was improving and I was becoming more mobile, I began looking for wheelchairs. I did my research and considered several models, of which there are many. But in the end, I went with this one because, among other things, it looked like it could be used pretty much anywhere–a parking lot or a mud pit. I mean, just check out the wheelchair tires, those things look like they could scale boulders.
I will say, though, I have since found that this model is not as all-terrain as it looks. Like any wheelchair, it does have some limitations, mainly that it struggles to get up the steep wheelchair ramp slope leading to our driveway (more on that in a bit), but I doubt the other models I considered would have done any better.
Otherwise, it is a great wheelchair with a long battery life. The manual says it can go 18 miles on a single charge, but I think it’s even better, as I have literally only charged my chair twice in the four years that I have had it. Though I admittedly do not travel far distances (usually just around my house). So I don’t really have to worry about the battery life or it breaking down and having to fix it with new wheelchair parts.
In my opinion, a wheelchair is one of the most important disability products. For those of us who can’t walk or are limited in walking, a wheelchair is our transportation, our vehicle.
It can be a hard choosing between a wheelchair electric version or a manual one. Depending on where you live, renting a wheelchair may be a good option to try them out.
Now, if you are indeed looking for a wheelchair, you might also be looking a wheelchair ramp, something that I am always grappling with, mostly because there are a lot of different kinds—some made of rubber, some made of metal, some made of a combination of both. And then you have to consider the door threshold and wheelchair width.
When you pick out a wheelchair, make sure to get one with a gradual wheelchair ramp slope, unless you are feeling like Evil Knievel. A few years ago, we put in a concrete wheelchair ramp from the deck outside my room up to the driveway, and it’s just a little too steep for me to ascend in my wheelchair by myself. So make sure you consider the ramp slope along with the wheelchair.
7. MJM -Shower Gurney
Besides being a genius invention, this shower gurney is also very versatile. It is made of mostly PVC pipes, which makes it light and easy to fold up. It also comes with a mat made especially for getting wet in the shower. If you are looking for a shower gurney for disabled people, this one is as good as it gets, in my opinion. (It’s not always available on Amazon though, so you might have to search for it elsewhere or try a different model.)
I should also say, I never actually used this gurney in the shower. It’s pretty big, so you need a wheelchair accessible shower or a walk-in shower, which I don’t have. But it can also be used for a lot of other purposes—transportation or just lying outside, which is what I used it for. It’s on wheels and a good height if you have a tall, platform bed (see bed frame below).
6. Medline Transfer Bench for Bathtub
There are a lot of different kinds of shower chairs, some of which you can rent, but this one works best for me. At least so far. (I only recently started taking showers again in an actual bathtub.)
If you’ve read my memoir, then you know that I resisted using any sort of shower chair or aid for a long time. But I’m glad I got over that, because shower chairs are the best. They really are. They make bathing a lot easier. In my case, it means the difference between taking a shower and having to bathe in bed (see inflatable tub above).
They make more advanced shower chairs, like a raz shower chair, but I like this particular shower chair because half of it goes outside the tub and the other half goes inside, which makes transferring easy. It’s also very sturdy, and is made of metal and hard plastic materials, so you probably won’t need shower chair replacement parts.
The only tricky part is you have to be careful about the position of your shower curtain, so water doesn’t get all over the floor. But otherwise the chair is great. It has suction cup legs, which make it stable and secure.
5. Carex Health Brands Soft Grip Folding Cane
I bought this cane a couple years ago, before I started walking, thinking I would use it as I became more ambulatory. I totally forgot about it until I found it in my closet a few weeks ago and began using it. I have been surprised at helpful it can be. I take it with me when I go outside and don’t have anything to hold onto. It’s also useful to push my door open and shut, so I don’t have to stand up.
4. Olee Sleep 18″ Heavy Duty Queen Steel Slat Bed Frame
This isn’t just a product for disabled people, but it can be a big help. One of the biggest challenges I have faced while becoming ambulatory again is getting the height of my bed at a comfortable level. For years I kept my bed on risers so the top of the mattress was the same height as my waist when I stood up. This was mainly for safety and stability, so I could lean against the mattress and it would catch me if I fell.
I’ll admit that it made me a little nervous putting my bed on risers. I mean, they were totally stable, but sometimes it just looked a little unsafe. So recently, I bought a taller platform bed frame that is basically the same height as my old frame was with the risers. This way I don’t have to worry about having my bed on stilts as I’m leaning against it.
3. Adenna Dental Bibs/Lap Cloths
At the risk of stirring up some serious dental trauma, I have to say that these bibs really come in handy. And I know they aren’t strictly disability products, but they definitely can be useful.
Even though I can walk short distances, I still eat and brush my teeth in bed, two things that can get quite messy. These dental bibs are just like the ones at the dentist with paper on one side and plastic on the other.
They aren’t super absorbent, but they do repel everything from toothpaste to hot sauce. They have also kept me dry during more than a few water spills.
2. Elipse P100 Dust Half Mask Respirator
This mask doesn’t strictly fall under the category of disability products either. With COVID, anyone might need this.
After two years of dealing with the COVID pandemic, I bought this respirator to add an extra layer of protection as I come into contact with people. This is especially crucial for me, as my immune system is compromised. I was surprised at how easy it is to breath with this mask on. Well, I shouldn’t say easy, but it is surprising how it compares to the difficulty of breathing with some N95 and cloth masks.
1. RabbitAir MinusA2 Ultra Quiet HEPA Air Purifier
This Rabbit air purifier has been such a lifesaver for me during the summer when wild fire smoke consumes parts of California. If you are wondering what air purifier is good for filtering smoke, I recommend this one.
And again, this air purifier doesn’t just fall under the disability products category, anyone could and should use this, if they need it.
I use the Rabbit air purifier every day. During the wild fires, there were times when I literally wouldn’t have been able to breathe clean air without it.
It has many great features, but the best in my opinion is the ability to control the settings through a mobile app, which I use on my phone. It is very useful if you are bedridden or can’t get up to control the air purifier manually .
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11 thoughts on “9 Disability Products and Aids That Have Helped Me”
Congratulations on your award!
Thank you so much!
Some amazing products listed here. I was happy to see the cane I personally use listed as one you like. My husband is a hospice nurse and was looking for a way of bathing some of his patients, so I pointed out the collapsible bath. He said to say thanks, and he is ordering a few for his patient’s use.
Thank you! Glad that helped. I wish I had started using a cane earlier. It probably would have given me a lot more stability (and confidence) earlier on. Hope you guys like the inflatable tub. That one made such a huge difference for me. So much nicer than sponge baths.
Thanks for these recommendations!
I never knew there was such a thing as an inflatable tub but it would be wonderful.
One question though- I have chemical sensitivities, so if the tub has anything more than a very mild plastic odor, I probably can’t use it. Can you please comment on the odor when it was new? Thanks so much!
Hi! I’m pretty sensitive to chemicals myself, so I don’t think the plastic was too bad. Maybe a little at first but I let it air out for a few days. I first got mine years ago, so it’s hard to remember. If it did have a chemical smell it went away eventually because I don’t notice anything now.
So good to see you looking and sounding much better!
Wheelchair ramps should be no steeper than 1 in 12, with around 1m level for each 1m of slope, which is very shallow but there is little hope of getting up on a manual wheelchair yourself without. Check the ADA or similar regulations, and have slight curbs at the side. A few fancy power chairs have stair climbers and so say what height they can do.
Ramps – I really recommend the curved rubber ramps for a 10cm/4 inch step eg into or our of a house. Getting in or out of a car from a wheelchair is tricky – I suggest using the rear passenger seats to stash a folded wheelchair. For manual chairs, “lightweight” is a buzzword, light ones are described as “active” and state the weight in kg. Full height back rest and headrest are a great help.
For eating I use a teatowel instead of the dental type bib things, lying against a bed wedge and sometimes on my side.
Non-inflatable hair washing basins with a hose to drain the water are great. Got the idea from Unrest. I just lie flat on my back, turn over briefly for the final rinse. SLS and SLSS free shampoo means less hair washing and itching.
I forgot about the rubber ramps. Those are great too. I have one outside my door leading to the deck. It’s still hard to get over the threshold in my chair but when I step outside it definitely makes it easier.
Great suggestions! This is going in Evernote for future reference.
I have benefited from a sport seat cane which provides both a cane and a seat. It’s great for museums, especially during a docent led tour. I can sit down while the docent is talking or lean on the cane for brief stops. I have one similar to this one but there are several different styles. https://www.everywherechair.com/regular-walking-stick-sport-seat
The inflatable tub seems like the stuff you are washing off or soap might get trapped in the cracks and crevices. Do you rinse it off after you get out of it?
That looks like a cool invention. I might have to try the sport seat cane out. As for the inflatable tub, we just dried it off with a towel after I got out. Sometimes we sprayed it with vinegar to keep it clean. I don’t use a lot of soap, so there was never any build up. Even if you use a lot of soap, I don’t think it would be an issue.