Helpful Limited Mobility Tools for Home and Travel

Okay, admittedly at first glance some of these tools and gadgets you’re about to see may look like torture devices, but I guarantee you, they are not. Over the last several years, I have been losing strength and dexterity in my hands, and standing up to reach something is increasingly difficult. I have accumulated several different tools and gadgets to help me live and travel independently as a wheelchair user (I use/own all of the tools below), and I would like to share these with you in case you could find them useful as well!

1. The grabber.  Okay, I don’t really know if this is the official name of this device, but that’s exactly what it does. It’s a stick or pole about a meter (or yard) long with a squeeze handle at one and and rubber-tipped pincers at the other. You can use these to reach things under furniture, above you, or behind things where you just can’t get into because of your mobility device. When I travel, I use it all the time for things I drop in my hotel room. I wouldn’t recommend using this to grab anything very heavy or breakable.

However, it’s great for things like clothes on hangers, bags or small boxes of food on high shelves, or even small objects that have fallen behind the dresser or under a bed. You can even use it to turn off a light switch or pull the chain on a fan. This is the folding version that I use because it fits easily in a small suitcase or backpack.

2. The bottle/jar opener.  I’m a huge fan of these because opening even a bottle of water has become extremely difficult for me. There are different types and shapes and sizes, and I prefer the one with multiple cap size openings. You can use these for anything from a bottle of water or soda to a jar of applesauce or jam.

3. Dressing stick.  Again, I have no idea what the official name of this gadget is, but it’s extraordinarily helpful for women who need help pulling up zippers located on the back of their clothing. There is a dangling hook at one and of a pole that’s about 2 feet long. You attach the hook to the zipper when it’s around your waist or wherever you can reach it, then you maneuver the pole so you can pull up on the zipper to bring it up to your neckline. I don’t wear zip up dresses nearly as much as I used to, but for a business or evening events, this is a lifesaver! There is also a double hook on the other end that helps you hang clothes on a rod or remove/lower anything on a hanger.

4. Suction cup grab bars.  I’m in the process of waiting for my bathroom to get remodeled, and while I’m waiting these are another lifesaver. In the home before my current one, I used these for over two years since it was a rental and I couldn’t permanently install grab bars. You do have to check their security just to be on the safe side, and some brands even have little green or red markers that will tell you if they are secure or not.

Please check to see the kind of tile in your shower or bath tub enclosure first to make sure you can use these. They do require smooth/glossy tile of a certain size and not the textured or mosaic kind in order to get a good grip. You also don’t want to be hanging off of these like a monkey. They are more for additional support, so make sure you check the box to see what the weight limit is.

5. A bed strap ladder.  I know what you might be thinking, and no, this isn’t it.  This is a device that you attached to either the frame of your bed or one of the legs, and it lays across your bed to where you are lying so you can pull yourself up from a flat position. Most of them have three or four strap rungs, and some even have rubber wrapped around the rungs for more security.

I love that they’re portable, and I always take one with me when I travel because you can use them on any bed that has legs or a regular frame. Platform beds are not doable, so if you need it for travel, make sure you call the hotel and find out what kind of bed will be sleeping in if you really need this.

6. An old-fashioned shoe horn.  It really doesn’t come lower tech than a classic shoehorn, but you’d be amazed how incredibly helpful they can be. My feet get pretty swollen from sitting all day (and not drinking enough water), so when it comes time to put on my Converse or Adidas kicks, my feet can always use an extra push — or slide, in this case. For people who can’t bend down very easily, you can find shoe horns that are even one or two feet long. These aren’t just for your grandpa anymore!

7. A simple yoga strap.  As a result of my MS, I have pretty bad spasticity in my legs. This makes it tough to bend my right leg sometimes and position my right foot. My solution has been to take a simple yoga strap and secure the buckle end around my foot. That allows me to move my leg into whatever position I need, and it’s particularly helpful when I’m trying to reposition myself at night while I’m in bed. A yoga strap can be a great solution for other body parts that need some repositioning, and it’s particularly helpful for stretching and improving blood flow if you lead a mostly sedentary lifestyle.

Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. Please understand that I have experienced all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something through my links. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.

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  1. Dr. Kristine Henderson

    Solid recommendations and explanations. Thank you!

  2. Judith Kerman

    A number of these devices are central to my life. I should mention another use for a bed strap. I can walk short distances, but I can’t get up from a chair, toilet or bed lower than about 22”. Toilets might have grab bars, beds and chairs rarely do. I took a bed strap with me to South Africa. When there was something to anchor it to at any reasonable distance (not always available, alas!), I used the strap to get onto my feet from such a bed or chair.

  3. Jennifer Clark

    These are all excellent gadgets- thank you for sharing! Please keep us posted on new items you find useful. I’m a C4/5 quad and have to use many “helpers” to stay independent.

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