Daily Living Activities

There are a lot of little activities each of us do every day, usually without even thinking about them: things like buttoning your clothes, brushing your teeth, or picking up a coffee mug. Though these common tasks are automatic for most people, they become more challenging when you have ALS.

You can make such daily living activities easier by adjusting how you do things or making small changes to items around the house. There are many different products or techniques you can use, and our free downloadable daily living activities manual covers everything in-depth. Below are some examples of tips you can use to make daily living activities easier.

  • Wrap the handles of forks, spoons, combs, toothbrushes, or other small utensils with foam, rubber, or tape to make them larger and easier to grip. You can buy foam tubes and cut them into to the correct lengths, or wrap rubber bands or tape around the handles until they are a comfortable thickness.
  • Use lighter-weight utensils, such as plastic forks or plastic cups.
  • Choose a mug that has a large handle, allowing you to use your entire hand to grip it rather than just a couple of fingers.
  • Use cups with a ribbed rather than a smooth outer surface, since a ribbed surface is easier to grip.
  • For zippers on clothing, attach a loop of string or a metal ring to the zipper tab. This will make the zipper easier to grab and easier to pull.
  • For clothes with buttons, you can remove the buttons and sew pieces of Velcro on instead: one piece where the button had been attached to the clothing, and one piece on the back side of the button hole. You can then sew the buttons back on, but on the outside of the button hole, making it look like the clothing is still buttoned shut.
  • Consider buying clothing that is easier to manage, such as pullover tops that don’t require buttoning, buttonless pants with elastic waists, and clothes that are a couple of sizes bigger than normal and are therefore easier to put on.
  • Use sweat pants that do not have elastic around the ankles, or remove the elastic, so that it is easier to slip your foot through the opening.
  • Form a washcloth pocket by sewing two wash cloths together on three sides. You can then slip your hand and/or soap into the pocket, allowing you to wash without having to grip the cloth.
  • Put toothpaste directly into your mouth before brushing, rather than trying to put it on the toothbrush first. You can hold the tube of toothpaste between your two palms and squeeze them together to get the toothpaste out, instead of trying to grip and squeeze with one hand.
  • Leave the cap off the tube of toothpaste; you don’t have to screw it off and on with each use.
  • Flip top lids, such as those on many brands of shampoo and lotion bottles, can be opened and closed using the edge of a table or countertop.
  • Choose a hairstyle that is easy to care for.
  • Take breaks and allow for periods of rest throughout your day to prevent fatigue.

For more tips on how to make daily living activities easier, download the complete manual or ask your local ALS Care Services Manager.