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Organizing Your Home When You Have a Disability

Organizing your home and belongings, with your disability in mind, can make everyday activities easier. This is a guide about organizing your home when you have a disability.


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February 1, 2012 Flag

This is by no means a medical advice story or something that anyone else has to do. It's simply tips I have used to make my life easier and it might work for anyone who is interested in trying them. That said, I have multiple disabilities and have learned that, the more I make things easier, the longer I can live on my own.


As most of you know, we tend to slow down with age. Add to the mix arthritis, Parkinson's, and diabetes, and you face challenges every day. At least I do. So, here are some things I have learned that make the good days better and the bad days livable.

The Kitchen:

Opening drawers has become a challenge, so I tend to keep as much as I can out in the open. All utensils are in containers, easy to reach. I separate the stuff in the drawers into sections using clear plastic cookie containers, free and easy to lift.

I swapped out the fridge doors from one side to the other so I wouldn't have to keep walking to the other side and then try and hold the doors open. That also means I can take things out and put on the counter, rather than take out some, close the door, put them on the counter and repeat.

I submitted a tip a while back about having a "morning drink center" and it's really been handy. I have my carafe of tea or coffee, cocoa, spoons, and things to add to them all in one place. The cups are above and the microwave is next to it, so it's a "one shot deal".

There are no rugs to slip or trip me up. It's the kind of kitchen that has everything on one side, then a wall on the other.
Because I have some little tables and cabinets on that wall, I can always reach one side or the other should I become unsteady.
I have light dishes, mugs for soups and stews with handles, an electric can opener, and a toaster oven big enough for almost anything I might put in a larger oven.
Not having to bend over to pick up hot things is a real plus.

The Bathroom:

One of the most challenging rooms in any home, the bathroom is where I strove to keep things safest. I have a rack that fits over the door. I keep all my insulin equipment up high, as well as robes, a flashlight, towels, and such.


I sit to take a shower, wear older Crocs for sure footing, and have handles for when I want a soak, which I take nightly for my joints. I have a seat riser on the commode which helps my knees.

All like things inside the cabinet are in veggie cans, so I can grab one and have them all at my fingertips. Any pretties on shelves are glued so if I grab a shelf unit, nothing falls on me.

The Bedroom:

Sometimes, the greatest injuries come from the silliest of negligences. Not putting away a pair of shoes at night can mean a hospital visit in the morning.

Falling injures more elderly and disabled than just about anything, so I make sure nothing is in the way before I go to bed. I have a bottle of water and the charged phone on the night stand, hang my glasses from a drawer knob, and have the night light across the room.

I put the barley bag in the microwave to warm my feet at night, and take my night time meds like insulin and supplements while it's heating. Routines can be monotonous, but some are essential.

Getting Dressed:

I wear pants more than anything, so I use them to lift my foot up to my knee, then put my sock and shoe on at the same time. That saves me from bending, and I only have to bring up my foot once. I leave my shirts with buttons buttoned in the closet and just put them on over my head. Heels are a thing of the past, I am afraid.

If I have a day where I am pretty busy "puttering" I take my apron along and carry things like scissors, tape, notepad and pen, a cleaning tool, etc. I love having what I need with me to save me steps.

If I can't slip a necklace or bracelet over my head or wrist, I don't buy it. There is no one to help with clasps, which are hard for me.


I know I should walk outside, but that is not safe where I live. It's a rough neighborhood and the sidewalks aren't lit. I have a small stair stepper that keeps my blood and heart at a good level and has a handle on the top for stability.

When I am on the computer or watching TV, I pump my feet like I was driving the car every so often to keep my circulation going, and have a small stepstool so the chairs don't cut off circulation. I also reach really high and stretch both arms when I am sitting, which helps to keep fatigue out of the back.

I have never smoked, don't drink, and stay away from Aspartame and MSG. I recently took a diabetic education class, and now eat much better, keeping my weight down and my energy up.

Turning 57 last month wasn't a big deal. I have always been realistic about my age. But, the limitations I have to face each day made me realize something that I wanted to share with you.

It's the little things we can do to help us live and independent life that are just as, if not more, important than living a longer life. If the fates allow, I might have another 40 years left in me. The more time I can stay at home the less time I will spend at someplace whos name starts with Shady Grove.

By Sandi from Salem, OR

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CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
May 27, 20150 found this helpful

I, too, have to make adjustments due to arthritis. I just became a widow and my wonderful husband loved helping me and doing the cooking. One of the problems I was having was being able to cook. I invested in a small electric skillet about 8 inches square that I use at the table and am able to fix better meals than the easy out (bagels and cream cheese) for convenience. I also found a 3 quart slow cooker which I load up in the morning and by dinner time have a complete meal. I love both of them and use them regularly. You soon learn to work smarter when you have disabilities. These items for me are well worth it.

ReplyWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
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May 27, 2015 Flag

My roommate is in a battery powered scooter. While she tries to keep active, often her scooter has a mind of it's own.

During a recent "Turkey and all the Fixins' Dinner", her power hand lever got caught under the lip of her work table. The scooter nearly dragged and spun the table and food to ruin. It took two of us lifting the table and turning off her chair to stop a disaster.

So, I came up with this idea. I put a smaller can of mushrooms inside a can of veggies.

As you can see, it's decorated and easy as pie to do. You just have to have the correct sizes to fit inside, raising the table so she can still work on it and still clear whatever the obstacle is.

I used veggie cans and little mushroom cans, but you can use vegetable juice cans and large fruit cans upside down inside for utility tables. Each are temporary or permanent, depending on your needs. The "temp" ones are great for picnics or food processing outside.

Now, she can pull in without worrying about spilling a pan of hot food or a big salad on her. Win! Win!

Source: Nope. Just mommy and the invention!

CommentWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
June 9, 20150 found this helpful

I truly enjoy all of the 'tidbits' that you send out to all of us on Thrifty're one in a million. Thanks!

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9 found this helpful
May 20, 2013

Man in Wheelchair Washing Dishes

CommentPin It! Was this helpful? 9

Hi all, I am disabled and it took a long time to get used to it, that areas will be limited and some things are out of being part of my life. Yes, I had to change the thinking first, then the home.


17 found this helpful
April 8, 2013

My son has Down Syndrome so we've learned to make things simple around our home. I moved his bed to the center of his room so he could walk around it to make it, much easier than making a day bed which needs long arms to reach to the back when making it.

Comment Was this helpful? 17

February 26, 2014

The traditional hunter's vests have many pockets. They are so nice to use as it leaves my hands free. I carry these items with me for emergencies: a whistle, cell, pad and pen, eyeglasses, reading glasses, money, medicines, etc.

Comment Was this helpful? 3

February 23, 2015

Rubber Band To Tighten Paper Towel Holder

CommentPin It! Was this helpful? 7

My room mate is in a scooter. When she set up the paper towel roll on the door, she probably didn't expect to have the roll fall off the spindle arms when she pulled on it.


Share on ThriftyFunCheck out these photographs. Click at right to share your own photo in this guide.

January 27, 2011 Flag

Yep, I moved again! I am helping my sister-in-law get through pancreatic cancer. And it's because of her weakness that I came up with something to help her. She is pretty independent and while I do the heavier stuff, she is still trying to come up with things that let her do things herself.

Because she is weak, we came up with a way to transfer heavy soda bottle contents into smaller bottles, and she doesn't even have to lift the bottles. We simply lay them on their sides, after starting the first bottle "sink side" with the smaller bottle in the sink, and let gravity do all the work! When the first bottle is full, she simply lifts up the opening about 1/2 inch and switches to an empty bottle. Not only does she not have to lift the 2 liter bottle out of the fridge, she can now just pull out a smaller bottle when she needs one. This would also work for juice, milk, or just about any larger liquid container.

She takes on a task that wouldn't have bothered her 6 months ago, and saves room in the fridge. Win/Win! Hope this helps someone who is fighting fatique from any ailment.

By Poor But Proud from Lake Zurich, IL

Filling Smaller Soda Bottles

CommentLike this photo?Like? Yes
January 28, 20110 found this helpful

You are a real treasure to help her in this way. May the Lord bless and keep you for that. As for the tip, brilliant is the fanciest word I can think of to describe it. Thank you for sharing!

ReplyLike this photo?Like? Yes
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