10 Life Hacks for People with Neuropathy (Like Me)

If you have trouble with twist ties, zippers, opening jars and small packages like me, you may have worked out some of these kinds of things on your own. Other times you see some little trick and ask, “Why didn’t I think of that?” This happened to me when I went with my dad to the gas station. He pulled out a pair of needle-nose pliers from the glove box and proceeded to use them to swipe his credit card at the pump. Genius. How often have I struggled with that? So here are ten little tricks that I have worked out on my own. Feel free to comment below and share your own hacks!

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#1. I have trouble tearing open little packages. I just don’t have the dexterity anymore. So, cuing off my dad and his needle-nose pliers, I’ve learned to keep a small pair of scissors in my purse for all of those little packages at restaurants: tea bags, packets of sugar, ketchup, hot sauce. You can even take little scissors on an airplane if they are less than 4 inches long.

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#2. Reuse an old spice jar for pills. Of course, you’ll need to label it properly; you may even want to save the old jar for dosage and other important information. But this kind of jar is so much easier to open. There’s no use struggling to open a childproof jar of tylenol or ibuprofen if you’re hands are in pain (which is the whole point!)

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#3. Use a nut cracker to open small lids like that bottle of vanilla extract, soda pop, or Worcestershire sauce. I’ve seen special tools for this sold in the “Functional Solutions” catalog, but I already had this in my kitchen drawer.

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#4. Tie a loop of string through the eye of your zipper. If you have trouble grasping the tab of the zipper like me, this will give you something to hook your finger into. And when you are all zipped up, you can tuck the string into the fly, and it won’t be seen.

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#5. Mascara tubes and other cosmetics can be extremely difficult to open, especially if your hands are greasy because you’ve just applied a moisturizer on your face, or if your hands are slightly wet because you’ve just washed that moisturizer off your fingers… A rubber band wrapped around the handle really helps.

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#6. Add some leverage! My curling iron was getting more and more difficult to use—I couldn’t squeeze the lever. My husband used duct tape to attach part of a clothes pin, extending the lever. Voila! So much easier to use now. No more bad hair days.

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#7. Speaking of clothes pins, I replace all bread clips and twist ties with clothes pins. These are also useful on bags of frozen vegetables, opened sleeves of saltines, potato chips, chocolate chips, etc.

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#8. Zip-lock bags are my nemesis. Sliding locks are the only way to go. I wish they came in smaller sizes, however. Seems a waste to use a quart-size bag for small quantities. I’m rethinking this. Perhaps I should just save the bread bag in the photo above—maybe even trim it to a smaller size—and use a clothes pin.

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#9. This one is my favorite. It has made my life so much easier, especially on laundry day. Opening the dryer door was getting to be impossible. I didn’t have the thumb strength to push above the dryer door while I pulled on the handle with my other fingers. I didn’t have the strength in my legs for balance when it finally gave way, and I was afraid of falling. So MY HUSBAND REMOVED THE LATCH. Did you know you could do that? It’s just a little screw. Now the door doesn’t latch anymore, but it stays closed because the door is spring-loaded. You can open it all the way, and it will lay flat, just as before. And it stays perfectly closed while the dryer is running. Problem solved.

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#10. In a similar scenario, I was having a lot of trouble opening the dishwasher. We couldn’t remove the latch in this case, since it’s pretty important to keep the dishwasher water tight while it’s running. However, we did figure out a way to keep the door from latching when it isn’t being run. (Clothes pin to the rescue AGAIN! ) Clip a clothes pin onto the latch under the counter. This keeps the door from closing all the way, and I can open it whenever I want to put my breakfast bowl inside it. (No more excuses for dirty dishes in the sink!)

What little tricks have you developed that save you from frustration? Please share your ideas in the comments below!

Suzanne Rood is the author of A LIMP OF FAITH, Credo House Publishers, 2019, her story of living with CMT. The book is available on Amazon and Books-A-Million. Click here to purchase the book.