Do it Yourself Ideas 

By Karen Cifala

I have to laugh because my stepdad Bob, who is 85 and a former structural engineer, always has a jury-rig for something in his house to work around day-to-day obstacles. There is a hook to adjust the TV on the wall to his view liking. There’s the composition book where he records all of his bills that come in so that he doesn’t have to go through so much paperwork again to pay the bills.

Then there is the refrigerator door seal that has lost some suction, and he has tilted it back a bit with blocks under the front. Now it really slams shut good. Who cares if the Jello always comes out a little tilted. The 300 or so egg cartons downstairs hold at least 3,600 golf balls that need to be stored as well. All of these ideas are a creative way to satisfy these conundrums.

Whether you are having difficulty turning door knobs, or putting on your socks, we all have our way of working around day-to-day obstacles; some more practical than others. Here are some tried and tested, creative and funny workarounds that you can share with your family and friends.

Mobility and Personal Care

  • For user-friendly crutches, use pipe insulation to make additional padding on crutches to avoid bruised ribs and make softer grip areas.
  • A plant hook screwed into a dowel to fit your hand will make it easier to carry plastic bags.
  • Use hiking poles to improve balance and reduce strain on knees.
  • Use those pink sponge curlers to slip over eating utensils or toothbrushes for an easy-to-grasp handle.Remember soap on a rope? Take an old nylon stocking and drop the soap in it, and then tie to the shower head or grab bar for easy access.
  • Tape an emergency kit on the wall where it is highly visible — include important documents such as DNR, an aspirin, nitroglycerin, info on meds and allergies, doctor’s phone number, and other people to contact.
  • Having difficulty holding small objects? Glue and attach a nail clipper to a 3-4 inch long 2 x 2 inch wood. Add a popsicle stick to the arm of the clippers and duct or electrical tape. On one side of the wood block, glue an emery board to block of wood — then figure out the best way to attach to the counter. That’s where your ingenuity has to jump in.


  • Make light switch pulls that make it easier to turn lights on and off by drilling a small hole in the light switch and inserting a ring of some sort (like a key ring), and tie a string with a cork attached.
  • Install cord lights in areas around the house to help guide the midnight rambler or motion-activated lights and touch-on lamp switches.
  • Glue a piece of plastic tubing to a clothes pin and attach to a glass so you have a no slide straw holder that stays in place.
  • Sticky notes everywhere always help with reminders of everyday health and hygiene chores, as well as appointments.
  • Replace the purse with the 1982 Fanny Pack to keep both hands free.
  • Rubber bands around a glass or jars can create a no-slip grip.
  • Use foam tubing around doorknobs to improve usability.
  • Keep a magnet on the refrigerator to grab small things with. This helps improve dexterity when trying to pick up hard-to- grab items.
  • Keep frozen peas in the freezer as ice packs in a pinch.
  • For those card sharks that have a hard time holding all of their cards in their hands, cut a section of a pool noodle and slice the section in half lengthwise so it lays flat on a table. Then cut a 2-inch slot in the top of the noodle to hold your cards; like a dominoes tray holder, but for cards.

Another idea would be to turn plastic ice trays upside down to hold your cards. Make a picture of your remote, tape it near the TV, and detail the instructions on it so you don’t have to call your kids.

It can be hard sometimes for people to admit they can’t do something or that they need help. Why not enlist the grandkids to help with some of your good ideas and make it a fun and creative day together?

Karen Cifala is a SRES realtor for Remax Roots in Berryville, VA. You use a specialist for your health care needs, why not to sell your home? She can be reached by email at or by cell phone 303-817-9374.