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Tips and Tricks for Independent Living as a Disabled Person

Chloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,555 Disability Gamechanger

Living independently can be a real challenge for disabled people. Whether you are moving away from home or going off to university, looking after yourself can bring about a whole host of hurdles that you wouldn’t necessarily be able to predict.

My name is Ruby, I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome and I am a student at Exeter University. I run a blog where I share my experiences of chronic illness and a project called Chronically Cute Cards where I send out free, handmade, personalised cards to chronically ill people.

I’ve been living with students for the last few years but have recently just moved into a house with my sister. This has meant I have been spending a lot more time by myself and have had to adapt. I wanted to share a few little tips and tricks that I have found to make life slightly easier when living independently as a disabled person.

The perks of a bum bag

Purchasing a bum bag to carry all the things I may need throughout the day has meant less trips up and down stairs and ensures I never get caught without the essentials if I get stuck on the sofa! Having your medication, phone, glasses and phone charger on hand can also be really helpful in case of a fall or emergency.

Kitchen gadgets

The kitchen can be one of the toughest rooms when it comes to independence as a disabled person due to the countless hazards. Kitchen aids can be a great way to ease your concerns. Choppers, Nutri Bullets, kettle tippers and cutlery grips make cooking safer and easier especially if you have dexterity issues or painful hands.

Smart technology

One thing that I have found incredibly useful, but can occasionally be a bit pricey, is the Phillips Hue lightbulbs or smart lights. Being able to control the lights in your home via your phone saves you having to get up and down to turn lights off and on. You can also control the brightness which helps if you suffer from migraines as you can dim the lights. 

Snuggles with a dog!

A huge bonus for moving in with my sister is her dog Murphy! Having a pet is obviously not an option for everyone, but it really helps with my anxiety when I am home alone, and he keeps me company on the days where I am stuck in bed.

Food straight to the door

One tip that I cannot stress enough is online food shopping. Food shopping is an exhausting activity, doing it online saves so much energy and the people that deliver your order are usually super helpful and will often help you unpack if you ask.

My version of independence

Finally, I think the most important tip for me has been to create my own definition of independence. When I first started thinking about becoming more independent, I was terrified that this meant I would no longer be able to have help with anything. Now I have realised that there are certain things I can do that serve my independence all whilst still asking and accepting help in other aspects of living. Define your own independence, it looks different for everyone!

These are a few of the things that have helped me to feel confident being independent in my home and I really hope that you can draw some inspiration from these ideas and that they will help you.

What do you find helps you around the house? Are there any little hacks that make living independently easier? I would love for you to share your tips and tricks!




  • zakblood
    zakblood Member Posts: 419 Pioneering
    good luck with the University, hope all goes well and thanks for sharing and welcome to the forum
  • April2018mom
    April2018mom Posts: 2,868 Connected
    I keep a list of phone numbers on my phone. I love me time especially in the shower or at work. I recently hired a cleaner to come work for me.
    She is the same person who worked for my mother for a decade. I delegate tasks. Ironing I do myself. 
  • Ails
    Ails Member Posts: 2,256 Disability Gamechanger
    Welcome to the Community, Ruby.  A great guest blog with really good tips for independent living.  Your blog looks great too and I love your Chronically Cute Cards, a marvellous idea!  Thanks for sharing all of this with us.  I don't have much to add to the tips already given here, but one thing I couldn't live without when I am home alone is my grabber if I drop anything; which I do a lot!  Also on days of bad pain and when stuck in bed I have found it helpful to fill a flask of tea/coffee and make myself a packed lunch to take to bed with me and tide me over until my husband comes in.   :)
    Winner of the Scope New Volunteer Award 2019.   :)
  • newborn
    newborn Member Posts: 741 Pioneering
    They even have grabbers in poundland. Bit flimsy,  as to be expected though
  • paffuto10
    paffuto10 Member Posts: 388 Pioneering
    We have stairs (hoping to move to a flat or bungalow). 

    Things that need to be taken upstairs we collect during the day, on a table at foot of stairs. At bedtime everything gets taken up together. And vice versa things needing to go down. 
  • Doc
    Doc Member Posts: 6 Connected
     I have many 'essentials', besides the obvious things like crutch and wheelchair (without which I can't go out), the one I use the most often is the dishwasher.
     I can't stand for long, and my knee don't bend fully so can't sit close enough to sink to wash up, so I have a countertop dishwasher (no bending!). I not only wash dishes in it, but also toothbrush, shower caddys, trays, pegs (in colander), ceramic plant pots, etc. It's also great for washing small pet houses, toys, climbing ropes, etc. This means I can use my limited energy on other activities.
  • April2018mom
    April2018mom Posts: 2,868 Connected
    Some more useful tips: 

    1- When reading medical or therapy assessment reports, try to remain calm and objective. Remember that the report cannot predict the future. Put it in a folder and don’t become mad at your child either (this is one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received).
    Cry or feel sad, then move on with your life. Delayed does not mean never going to happen. Same applies to form filling too. If it makes you feel better, scream into a pillow quietly as your loved one sleeps. I have a file of assessment reports tucked under my bed. The old inaccurate reports don’t scare me now. 
    2- Take pictures of your child. I have a box crammed with baby photos of Logan and his twin sister in a drawer in my bedroom. Advocate for your child too. 
    3- Celebrate every inchstone. Every time my son achieved something I made a note of it. And we also go out to celebrate a big milestone at a restaurant or at our local ice cream shop. Look past the delays. Get to know your child properly. 

  • Davidtrotter
    Davidtrotter Member Posts: 2 Listener
    Hi Ruby, All of your comments seem extremely sensible and useful and so are your readers comments. I would like to add a product that many individuals are finding extremely useful, without sounding too commercial. The muggi tray that I originally invented for a sailing friend of mine on his boat, is helping with independence around the home or office whether disabled or not. I hope some one finds this comment useful.
    Kind regards and good luck with your studies. ?
  • redchicken43
    redchicken43 Member Posts: 48 Pioneering
    Great that you have taken life’s challenges face on that you have learnt to adapt. Well done and great advice.
  • Chloe_Scope
    Chloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,555 Disability Gamechanger
    Thank you everyone for contributing to this informative blog post! I've loved reading your tips and thanks for sharing these with the community. :) 

  • Queenie
    Queenie Member Posts: 2 Listener
    Thanks for this, very helpful.
  • Chloe_Scope
    Chloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,555 Disability Gamechanger
    I'm glad this could help @Queenie and welcome to the community! Is there anything we can help you with today?

  • AndMac
    AndMac Member Posts: 27 Pioneering
    Something that I find very useful is a slimline walking stick, that I use as a dressing aid.
    It helps me when pulling off trousers,  and to hold waistbands open, so that I can get them on more easily. It’s a small thing, but it saves a lot of struggles.
    A plastic screw-in broom handle would perform just as well, if you don’t have a walking stick to hand. 
  • Chloe_Scope
    Chloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,555 Disability Gamechanger
    Such a great idea @AndMac! Thank you for sharing this with us!

  • Meleen
    Meleen Member Posts: 2 Listener
    Buy a chip basket and place in your saucepan. Put your potatoes/veg etc into basket and cook. When finished lift basket out, your food is drained with no need to lift a saucepan of hot water.
  • Adrian_Scope
    Adrian_Scope Posts: 8,595 Scope online community team
    Really like that tip @Meleen. Thank you! :smile:
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  • Chloe_Scope
    Chloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,555 Disability Gamechanger
    A great tip @Meleen, thank you and welcome to the community! :)


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