More than 20% of working age adults in the UK live with some form of disability, including almost half of over 65s. That’s about 14 million people. Human beings are resilient creatures, and many surprise themselves with their adaptability.
For many, the bigger challenge is a psychological one. Whether aged 20 or 90, it can be frustrating to rely on others to carry out the daily activities you once took for granted.
Mobility aids have existed for centuries, but, in recent years, technological innovations have made it possible for those living with any degree of immobility to enjoy freedom and independence on their own terms. Such aids also take some of the pressure off family members, who can rest assured that their loved ones are able to live as they wish without worrying that they are putting themselves in danger or struggling to cope.
Incredibly, the first wheelchairs are believed to have been invented in around 600BC. Stone carvings originating in both China and Greece clearly show people conveyed on wheeled devices.
Wheelchairs have evolved with the times, but the biggest breakthrough in terms of boosting independence was the introduction of powered chairs in the late 20th century.
Powered wheelchairs evolved rapidly over the past couple of years. AXUS powerchairs provide a great example of the advanced mobility technology that is now available in 2022. These are a far cry from the chairs that were available even a decade ago in terms of comfort, practicality and performance.
AXUS has developed five models of powerchair, all of which use the latest battery technology and power-efficient motors to offer a range of more than 20 miles on a single charge.
There is something to suit everyone. For example, the ultra-compact AX3 is just 50cm wide with a mid-wheel configuration that allows it to turn on the spot! It means effortless mobility even in a small house or flat where space is at a premium.
The AX5, on the other hand, has a high-power motor and specially designed suspension that can handle uneven terrain. Ideal for outdoor adventurers who want to spend time in nature without the need for a friend or carer in attendance.
Each model can be further customised in various ways, such as colour, seat width and extra features. AXUS offer home consultations as standard to help customers make the right choice.
Traditional Manual Mobility Aids
Powerchairs are highly versatile, helping users remain independent around the house, at work, whilst shopping and enjoying leisure pursuits. However, powerchairs represent just one of a range of mobility aids that can give you the confidence you need to remain independent.
For those who can walk unaided but are a little less steady on their feet, fear of falling can be debilitating. In this case, manual aids from traditional sticks and canes to rollators provide that extra bit of support to boost confidence, as well as making walking easier and reducing the risk of falls.
At the other end of the spectrum, mobility scooters literally go the extra mile. They are predominantly for use outdoors or in accessible indoor environments like supermarkets. Sime offer incredible performance and features, especially those designed for both road and pavement use. With a maximum speed of 8mph and a range of more than 30 miles, the world really can be your oyster.
Other mobility scooters, known as travel scooters, have more modest performance credentials but can be easily separated in into four or five lightweight parts without the need for tools. They are designed for easy transportation by car, train or even plane.
Limited Mobility Doesn’t Mean Limited Freedom
Reduced mobility, whether through injury, illness or disability can add extra complications and frustrations to everyday life. However, one positive aspect is that modern technology has brought us a range of mobility aids we couldn’t have even imagined a generation ago.
Make no mistake, everyone needs a helping hand sometimes, whether disabled or not. It is wonderful to have family, friends and carers to lend support. But, it is equally important to have the freedom and independence to live life on our own terms.
Mobility aids like powerchairs, rollators and scooters make this possible for millions of people, eliminating the need to rely on the support and assistance of others.
Let’s be honest, when we’re young, we’re all enticed by a pretty face or a good body. Attraction is primarily physical, and to put it bluntly, at 18, most of us would shag anything with a pulse – opportunity is everything.
I cringe when looking back at some of the guys I fancied and gave my attention to! What the bloody hell was I thinking?!
Much later, I reluctantly signed up to dating app Hinge, which lasted a total of two months.
I tried modern dating (eurgh!), which, in my limited experience, seemed to consist of shallow idiots and the phrases “you’re no one’s type”, “get in the car!” and, “let’s book a hotel room”.
Responding with a firm no, I was told to “fuck off then”.
There are some lovely people out there!
On reflection, it probably wasn’t the best idea to tell one bloke that his car was shit, but it made me laugh as I rolled home alone in my powered wheelchair.
Growing up, a friend of mine repeatedly told me, “you need a big strong guy to pick you up and throw you around”.
I can see where she was coming from, but even as a young teen, I always thought, why? Don’t I just want someone to care?
Eventually, I did date that guy – the gym guy. And yes, for the first few months it was great. It was fun, liberating, and as another friend once said, “he gave you a sense of independence and adventure”. She was totally right.
In terms of practicality, it made life a hell of a lot easier for me, as a non-ambulatory wheelchair-user. For a fleeting moment, I thought that was what I wanted.
But, ultimately, I couldn’t rely on him and I felt very much like an option, a burden, and too much to take on due to my disability. He was physically incredibly strong, but mentally and emotionally very weak.
I didn’t realise it at the time, but at that stage, I was willing to accept the bare minimum – stupid girl!
I invested my time and energy in the wrong place, the wrong person.
The experience changed my outlook and, as cliché as it sounds, made me realise my worth.
You live, you learn, you move on.
As we get older, our perspective, values and priorities change.
These days, I can’t think of anything worse than attempting to flirt (awkwardly) with some Tinder clone. Quite frankly, I’d rather cuddle up at home, alone, with a nice cuppa tea!
At 33, my life certainly isn’t as I imagined or hoped for as a kid. Then again, with age comes the realisation that life rarely turns out as planned.
I’m no longer impressed by aesthetics. Trust me, a pretty face will only get you so far in life.
Above all, what I want is someone to care, unconditionally. Simple as that.
Don’t we all??
Don’t get me wrong, I cherish my alone time and independence, and I’m more than capable of caring for and supporting myself (mentally, anyway).
I’ve endured a fair amount of crap and spent over 90% of my life single. I’m certainly not the type to need a man.
I’m not interested in grand gestures, a lavish lifestyle, fancy house, or gym-bods!
But, for someone to choose you, want you, and stand by you, even when the shit hits the fan – especially when the shit hits the fan! That, to me, means the world.
“Normal” life came to an abrupt halt and, 5 weeks later, I’m still struggling with breathlessness, pain and exacerbated chronic fatigue.
For those of you who don’t know, I was born with a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy – a progressive condition. Consequently, my lung function is total crap, immunity impaired, and a significant scoliosis causes my internal organs to fight for space.
I’m a seasoned pro when it comes to extended periods of enforced isolation and inactivity, resulting from a lifetime of ill health. Fortunately, I’m more than comfortable with my own company!
In all seriousness, spending your days sat in the same chair, in the same room, attached to a ventilator 24/7, unable to make it as far as the kitchen, let alone leave the house – it’s…really not good!
This latest period of downtime allowed me to reflect on my 33 years – what I’ve learned, and what I want to focus on going forward.
My Life Lessons
Stop caring what others think of me
(because, actually, they’re probably not thinking anything)
I can trace this back to a comment made by a fellow pupil at primary school who told me, “you look normal when you sit down but really weird when you walk”.
I remember it vividly and, ever since, I’ve been painfully self-conscious, particularly about my appearance. But, now I’m ‘old’, I’m trying not to care about the opinions of others, especially total strangers.
Take me as I am or not at all.
Be my true, authentic self
I once had a (sort of) date which ended up in the guy’s completely bare bedroom. In this room was only a bed, some strewn clothes and a copy of, Alice in Wonderland. Rather than attempt to flirt and seduce (yeah, I’m cool), I turned my attention to the book and asked what it meant to him.
His answer made an impression on me:
“I like it because it’s about being open-minded, being yourself, holding onto your identity, and being comfortable with who you are. I’m weird, you’re weird, everyone’s weird! And that’s a good thing, in my view.”
Man, he was…DEEP!
Don’t waste my time, effort or tears on those who don’t care
I think, for most of us, our social circle becomes smaller as we age. And this isn’t a bad thing! On the contrary, you learn who you can be your unfiltered self with, who is willing to tell it as it is, who has your back, and who you can count on when times are hard – the ‘no matter what’ friends and family.
I am guilty of investing too much energy into the wrong people. But, from here on, I will realise my worth and focus only on those who bring joy to my life.
Well, I must now bring this lengthy blog post to a close and get back to my milky tea and digestive biscuits.
For me, being stuck at home for prolonged periods of time, due to chronic illness, is the norm. Hospital admissions, operations, cancelling plans and missing out on events and opportunities is a way of life.
Over the years, many birthdays, holidays and celebratory occasions have been lost to my condition. Whole months have been wiped out to repeated bouts of pneumonia, pleurisy and pneumothorax.
~ This is the case for thousands of disabled and chronically ill people throughout the UK! ~
I know what it is to struggle, to feel trapped, isolated and helpless. Such an existence really puts life into perspective and opens your eyes to what is truly important.
Attitudes to Lockdown Restrictions
Since lockdown began, I’ve seen and heard many petty complaints from ignorant individuals, which I find incredibly frustrating.
People whining about being unable to go out partying or bar hopping to get pissed.
To those self-absorbed cretins ~ GET OVER YOURSELVES!
Despite warnings, many continue to flout the rules, refuse to wear face masks and generally take life for granted, with little regard for the wellbeing of others. Some naively appear to think they’re invincible.
Trust me, it’s a hell of a lot easier to breathe through a protective face covering than a ventilator!
So please, have a little care and consideration. Protect yourself and others.
During lockdown, I can honestly say I did not miss going to pubs, restaurants, cinemas, shops or salons. To me, these are life’s luxuries.
Yes, we all need that escapism and we all enjoy going out and socialising, myself included.
But, when the time comes to look back on my life, I’m pretty certain I won’t be thinking, “damn, I wish I’d done more pubbing and clubbing”.
The one thing I REALLY missed during lockdown was quality time and physical contact with my family and closest friends. Being able to sit with them, touch them, hug them and talk face-to-face.
~ It really isn’t what you do, it’s who you do it with. ~
This week, the UK government issued new measures to suppress the spread of Covid-19. From Monday 14th September, social gatherings will be limited to 6 people.
In all honesty, I can’t say I’m surprised at these restrictions. From my perspective, as a physically disabled shielder, it seemed inevitable.
Our government has actively encouraged people to return to work, to school, the High Street, the salon, the gym, to pubs and restaurants.
Of course, we all want a return to some sort of normality. And while it is essential we sustain our economy through supporting businesses and minimising unemployment, it would appear BoJo favours wealth over health.
Those at greater risk have been largely neglected; the elderly, disabled and those with underlying health issues.
Many, like myself, have been shielding since March. We have been isolated in our homes, watching the world go by from behind closed windows.
Some have endured months without medical support. Personal carers, though essential, pose a risk to the most vulnerable. And others are forced to leave work, since there is little to no support for disabled employees.
I am very fortunate to have been able to continue accessing my routine hospital appointments throughout lockdown.
Despite initial anxiety and fears from friends, I felt safe and protected during every one of my 6 hospital visits and 2 GP appointments since March – all thanks to our invaluable NHS.
However, after waiting almost a year for a much-needed respiratory referral, I fear my upcoming appointment may now be cancelled, due to the latest guidelines.
My discussions with various medical professionals over the past few months reveal concerns for a second lockdown around October.
With Flu season approaching, this warning poses an even greater strain and impact on the elderly, disabled and NHS.
I’ve read many trivial complaints on social media about the Coronaviruslockdown.
From park, pub and salon closures, postponed gigs and concerts, to cancelled botox, filler and wax appointments. Some are even moaning because they can’t race around and show off in their flashy cars. What a shame!
I appreciate we all have our own interests, outlets, coping mechanisms and methods of self-care. We all want to look and feel our best, and we all need somewhere to escape to.
But please, let’s try and keep things in perspective.
The current situation isn’t permanent. Of course, it’s tedious, stressful and frustrating, and will impact some considerably more than others. But it will pass and “normal” life will resume.
People on the frontline are literally risking their lives to help others – complete strangers. They are physically and mentally exhausted, yet keep going.
Carers continue to support the most vulnerable in society, despite the risk.
Key workers carry on working to ensure society functions and people are provided for.
On the upside, lockdown provides an opportunity for families to unite, spend quality time together and talk more.
But for others – men, women and children – being stuck in close proximity, unable to escape, can be a living hell.
The National Domestic Abuse helpline has seen a 25% increase in calls and online requests for help since lockdown began!
We all have problems and we are all entitled to feel and express what we need to in order to get through these trying times. Your experiences and frustrations are valid.
But please, keep in mind the medics, carers, key workers, the elderly, disabled, those living with domestic abusers and those separated from their loved ones.
Try to appreciate what you do have – for example, your health, home, and hope for the future.
When you’re feeling low, maybe write a list of all the positive things in your life and focus on that rather than the things you are currently missing out on.
Though we all must now adapt and change our way of life somewhat, it’s important to remember this is only temporary. Things will improve.
I’ve heard people complain about the restrictions; mostly young, fit, able-bodied people. Yes, it’s a pain in the fat ass! But it isn’t forever.
Also, please be aware that many disabled and chronically ill people are repeatedly forced into prolonged periods of self-isolation throughout their lives. Plans are often cancelled last minute due to poor health. This isn’t new to them.
So, before you complain because you can’t go out partying with your mates, or to the pub, please consider those for whom limitation and isolation is a way of life.
Show your thanks and appreciation for the NHS and those working in health and social care.
Be mindful of the most vulnerable in society, and help out if you’re able to.
Please don’t panic buy or stock pile. This isn’t the apocalypse, people!
This stylish food preparation board, made from sustainable Rubberwood, is a multi-purpose, top quality kitchen aid.
I was so impressed with this piece! It is really attractive and doesn’t look at all like a standard disability aid.
It is designed for those with weak hand function, including impaired grip, poor hand control and tremors.
Using only one hand, the Easi-Grip board allows you to grate and slice food effortlessly. The spiked area ensures food is kept in place for peeling and cutting.
Several essential items all-in-one: Stainless steelfine/coarse graters, slicers, collecting bowl, spiked area, and long-lasting wooden board.
I have muscular dystrophy ~ contractures, poor grip, and very little strength. Despite this, I found the Easi-Grip food prep board really easy to work with, and a huge asset. I no longer need to ask for any help, which is a big deal for me!
My mum, who has osteoarthritis, loves this equally as much as me! Suffering with joint pain and stiffness, she found it significantly easier to use than regular kitchen tools.
This popular trio of knives has undergone a recent design revamp – the ergonomic handles are now thicker, making them easier and more comfortable to use.
The bright lime green areas indicate the “soft-feel” non-slip areas, as well as making them a bit more modern and aesthetically appealing compared to standard kitchen knives!
I would highly recommend all of these products to anyone, regardless of (dis)ability. They are top quality items and I am so thankful to Manage At Home and PETA [UK] LTD for sending them to me. I love to cook, and these kitchen aids have made life a little easier for me.
This post is in collaboration with Manage At Home and PETA [UK] LTD. The products were gifted to me in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed are entirely my own.
Wealden Rehab Equipment Specialists share the benefits
of having an Occupational Therapist in the team
Care equipment specialist Wealden Rehab works alongside in-house and external qualified occupational therapists (OTs).
Our in-house OT, Gayle Cardwell has 20 years experience, benefiting the team with clinical skills that can
be transferred into private practice. The collaboration between care equipment
providers and clinical experts results in a truly personal service.
Gayle offers her knowledge and understanding of both mental and physical health and wellbeing to the product advisors at Wealden Rehab, emphasising the importance of a personal approach being necessary to achieve the best
Assessing each client holistically encompasses the environmental considerations, which improve solutions for installation of ceiling hoists and
more detailed clinical considerations for seating.
Upon prescribing a piece of equipment, the occupational therapist must clearly show their clinical consideration. Gayle has devised and shared documents to encourage clinical reasoning when prescribing Wealden Rehab’s most popular
products. The documents are aimed at prescribing OT’s to consider the individual, environment, the task and to help justify the most appropriate outcome for the end user.
Gayle has provided a rigorous training program for all of Wealden Rehab’s product advisors, through individual and group training sessions. Her ongoing program is designed to enhance the assessments and the training they offer to their customers, which brings extra value.
Wealden Rehab recognise the
significance of having an OT in the team and a clinical approach in devising and delivering training for OT customers when prescribing Wealden Rehab products. We have observed increased confidence, greater understanding from OT’s in the
set-up and recommendation of our products, resulting in improving the end users
In the future, Wealden Rehab will be adding to the range
of products and, with specialist input, Gayle will be able to critique and share her clinical knowledge regarding new products. This will surely have an impact on the quality of life of many users, which is, Gayle says, ‘At the heart of
everything we do.’
I have just turned 31 (sooo old!) and, in order to live my life, I require support from personal carers.
Today, I (well, actually my mother) received the following letter…
Now, don’t you just love it when so-called “professionals” invite themselves to your home to drink your tea and eat your biscuits at a time and date to suit them?
It seems the assumption is that disabled folk just sit at home all day, idly twiddling their thumbs ~ Nah, mate.
Not only that, they failed to inform me and instead wrote to my mother! WTF?!
I know I’m child-sized but I am in fact a fully-functioning adult who manages all aspects of her own care needs.
~ My disability!
~ My carers!
~ My business!
~ My life!!
I wouldn’t mind so much, only I’ve spent months jumping through hoops (not literally, obviously) and answering the most inane questions in order to qualify for NHS CHC (a continuing healthcare package – to pay personal care assistants).
*FYI ~ I am currently in receipt of Direct Payments, enabling me to employ and pay my own carers*
As yet, I haven’t received a penny via CHC, though I did get a call to say an initial payment was made during the summer. Nope, sorry, no it has not!
(Little tip for you ~ when it comes to NHS/council funded care, QUESTION EVERYTHING!)