Aids and Equipment for Managing Fatigue [AD]

pippa sat cross legged on bed holding up sign that says 'it takes me twice as much energy to achieve half as much as my peers'

[AD] This piece is sponsored by CareCo Ltd and features affiliate links. More information can be found at the bottom of this post!

Something that comes up a lot in conversation is how I negotiate living independently whilst dealing with long-term chronic fatigue. And whilst that’s a broad topic to tackle all in one go, I thought I’d begin to answer that question by sharing some of the aids and equipment I use in day-to-day life that help me to manage my symptoms.

There are various things out there to assist with practical tasks, and technological advances are increasing by the day, but I wanted to think about how these could be applied to fatigue in particular. You’ll see from the list below that the items I use range massively: some are bigger, more costly mobility aids specifically for disability, whilst others are cheap and cheerful household products.

I’m sure that anybody reading this will already be aware that different things work for different people, and it’s all about finding what works best for you and your lifestyle. And for me, the things that work include the following…

Personal Care

  • Shower Stool: The first ‘official’ mobility aid I ever bought was my Shower Stool, and it’s probably the one I used the most. You can get either attachable or free-standing shower stools for your bathroom, to enable you to sit in the shower instead of using up valuable energy whilst remaining standing.
  • Turbie Towel*: If holding up a hairdryer wears you out, a ‘Turbie Towel’ can simply be wrapped around wet hair to give it a towel dry and keep it out of your way. It’s an absolutely ravishing look, as any of my old housemates will tell you, but it gets the job done.
    iphone on bedsheets displaying calm app home screen
  • Calm App: Hear me out on this one. There’s a lot of stigma around chronic illness and mindfulness but personally, practicing 5-10 minutes of mindfulness a day was what finally made the concept of pacing and restorative rest finally click in my head, and I haven’t looked back since. An annual subscription to the Calm app is pricey and something I couldn’t quite justify paying, however many of the basic meditation practices are free to use without a subscription.
  • Noise-cancelling headphones*: Once I’d finally taken the plunge and purchased noise-cancelling headphones, I was cursing myself for not doing it sooner. The most effective (and unfortunately more premium-priced) ones really cut down the background noise around you, making your surroundings a lot more comfortable for sore, over-worked brains. I’d advise trying on a pair in-store and working out whether they’ll be comfortable to lay down in, but if you’re not able to get out, I have an older version of the current Bose Quiet Comfort ones* which have suited me just fine.
  • Pill holders/ dispensers*: When the ominous brain-fog hits, having your medication sorted into the days and times you need to take it in advance can make your day-to-day routine a little less complicated. Personally, I find it quite therapeutic to make some time each week to sit and sort my medication out. Makes me feel like I actually have my life together, y’know?
  • Adjustable/ Electric Bed: this was a Scary Big Purchase when I first got ill, but when I was at my worst, having a bed where you could easily self-raise your head or legs to your desired level with a remote control was a blessing. Even when orthostatic intolerance means you can’t be up and about, being able to raise yourself up in bed and distinguish that time from lying down or resting can make such a difference to your mood and wellbeing.

Around The House

  • Perching Stool: Kitchens can be one of the trickier rooms to manage fatigue, often with less capacity for you to have a little sit-down mid-task. Because of that, a standalone perching stool that you can leave out, or one that can be folded up and stored as required, can be handy for a little sit down when you exceed your official allocated standing-up time of the day.
  • Wifi Kettle*: The Wifi Kettle isn’t cheap (I actually won mine in a competition a few years ago), but in my humble opinion, it’s one of the greatest gadgets of the 21st You connect your phone and download an app, and provided there’s water in the kettle, you can set it to boil from your phone and be alerted when it’s ready, taking away the need to get up and stand waiting to pour the water. And really, what situation is there that can’t be improved with a nice brew?packet of dettol wipes and green sponge on a stick positioned next to each other on wooden floor
  • Sponge On A Stick*: I’m sure there must be a more official name for this, but mine has become affectionately known as Sponge On A Stick and frankly, I think that hits the nail on the head. If you struggle to bend and reach various places when cleaning, having a tool like this means less physical exertion is needed to get the job done. They’re especially handy for cleaning the bath, one of the tasks I personally find most energy-draining.
  • Cleaning wipes*: Antibacterial household wipes are handy to keep in a cupboard, so you can just whack one out and have a quick wipe down as and when you feel up to it: I’ve linked to some on Amazon with my affiliate link, but it’s worth bearing in mind that they’re much cheaper to buy in supermarkets and discount stores, if you’re able to get to them, than online. Having disposable wipes on stand-by means you can just tackle a little area of a given room at a time, making it easier to pace yourself and avoid the clutches of over-exertion death by Mrs Hinch-ing.

Hobbies and Interests

  • Book Page Holder*: If you’re a reader but find that sore hands or the exertion required to hold up a novel makes it challenging to read for longer periods, the usual suggestion is to turn to Kindles and eBooks. But, if like me, you’re a die-hard paperback devotee, Book Page Holders can keep your place without having to use your hands and arms. Particularly handy for fellow Book Bloggers too.

open book placed in book stand holding pages openopen book placed in book stand with back cover and stand facing camera

  • Mobile Phone Stand*: Similar to above, but I actually discovered this tip in a local support group for people with M.E. If you have difficulty holding your phone up to eye level to see the screen or to your ear when talking, specialist phone stands are relatively affordable and accessible. 
  • Soft Lap Tray: If you work, or write, or spend any significant amount of time on a laptop, as well as a good chunk of your day in bed, Lap Trays and Surface Tables can be useful. I know it’s naughty to work from bed, but when you have a long-term illness, not everybody has that luxury of choice. And if having this kind of tool can make your environment even somewhat more office-like, it may be worth having. The one linked is the one I use personally, from good old Ikea.
  • Timer on phone for managing activity: I know we all have a love-hate relationship with pacing, but deep down, we know it’s what’s good for us. If you’re prone to getting carried away in the middle of tasks or hobbies, setting the timer on your phone can be a useful way of keeping track and making a deliberate point of resting before you burn yourself out.

Out And About

  • product image of careco airglide wheelchair, on white background
    Image Credits: CareCo Ltd

    Power-chair or wheelchair: If standing or walking is problematic, you don’t need to struggle. I’ve talked more about this issue in this past post, and I do appreciate it’s a huge purchase to make, especially for a power-chair. Those bad boys are not cheap. Many people with fatigue opt for transit wheelchairs, but if you’re looking for the autonomy that a self-propel offers, using a lightweight model with an aluminium frame is essential. The CareCo Aluminium AirGlide wheelchair weighs only 7.9kg, meaning much less exertion is required to get yourself from A to B, in comparison to other models.

  • Stickman Comms Cards: Hannah Ensor’s Stickman Communications is a goldmine of resources to help you explain medical conditions and symptoms in a concise and light-hearted, yet effective, way. Having some of these cards and badges, such as the ‘disability not visible’ badge, means you can simply whip one out and show it to who you need to without the cognitive strain of having to explain your needs and medical history in depth to strangers (who often, for unfathomable reasons, feel entitled to this information…).
  • Thermal clothing: Not everybody has this symptom, but my condition means that I’m constantly freezing cold, so much so that leaving the house can actually be painful, and my energy resources are depleted in trying to keep me warm. I used to be quite embarrassed about wearing thermal leggings under my jeans or going out with a hot water bottle on my lap, even during summer, but you gotta do what you gotta do. There are lots of different brands, but I personally find HeatHolders to be the most cost-effective. lilac chills water bottle places on blue blanket
  • Chilly’s Water Bottle*: Having a reusable water bottle isn’t only good for the environment, but can save you a bit of trouble when out and about too. I’m very easily dehydrated, so having a hot or cold drink on stand-by in your bag or wheelchair can save an emergency dash to the shops when the dreaded dry mouth suddenly hits. I was initially surprised and a little reluctant to pay what they cost, but I’ve already had more than my money’s worth out of mine. Much more environmentally friendly too.
  • Taxi apps to save a phone call: We’ve all been there- we’re so happy to have made it out the house that we’re run on adrenaline, and then suddenly the fatigue hits all at once and you just… wilt. In that moment, all you need to do is get home to bed safely, but even calling a taxi can feel impossible. See if any of your local taxi ranks offer an app, where you can book on your phone with the push of a button, just using your current location. However, always make sure you double check the location you’ve pinned on the app is right, otherwise you could end up engaged in a lengthy phone call from a confused driver regardless…

So there we have it: an introduction into the range of aids and equipment that helps me to get through the day whilst living with fatigue. This is by no means a comprehensive list, so if you have any top tips or suggestions of your own, I’d absolutely love to hear them!

This piece is kindly sponsored by CareCo Ltd [AD].

Links marked with * are affiliate links: I earn a small commission from any sales made through these links, at no extra cost to you. As always, all opinions and recommendations are entirely my own!

9 Responses

  1. I love all these ideas! I can’t live without my pill organizer and shower stool. The book holder seems really helpful! I could also use it for my Ipad. I’ll have to look more into it!

  2. I find when I hit The crunch point as u call it. I like to use a wheat cushion you can heat up in microwave which is quick and easy to do or for someone to do for me safely The heat lasts longer than a hot water bottle and us easier to position where you need it most or use two. I found investing in a mattress topper great as it raises the bed height a BIT and makes it easier to get up from bed whilst using my grab rail I have fitted on BED. I found buying a raised toilet seat great as used less effort to get on and off. I have a blanket and pillow in lounge so if I can’t make it to bed room I have a well needed rest in my leg raise push back arm chair I got at second hand furniture store I have purchased extra walking sticks / crutches and have these in most parts of home and garden just in case I hit rock bottom and need to grab them . I have more second hand chairs in garden so I would only have to walk a short distance to rest and relax and enjoy fresh air and garden I find now after many years it’s good to plan ahead I hope some of these ideas help.

  3. Hi, I wonder if you would be able to say where you got your electric bed from? Also what type of mattress do you use? I’m finding myself in bed most of the time now due to ME and Pots, and my current mattress is not supportive enough. Contemplating an adjustable bed.

    1. No problem, just asked my Mum who got it for me and she said it’s from Barker and Stonehouse – can’t remember the exact make or model but the specialist mattress came with the frame and it’s lasted well for 5+ years for me so far!

      1. This list is very helpful. Love the kettle app idea and the sponge on a stick. I find scrubbing anything is the fastest way to drop my body battery. I think the best idea that I wish I’d thought of is the noise cancelling headphones. I think I may need some kind of shades too because noise and light are my biggest issues. Thanks so much for normalising these issues and providing some solutions.

        1. You’re very welcome Rachel, thank you for reading! Hope you find some stuff that helps you, the headphones can be an investment but I wish I’d gotten them years earlier!

  4. Thank you ever so much Pippa for this. I was recently diagnosed with two long term conditions: Fibromyalgia and Functional Neurological Disorder which is still not understood by most people, even medical personnel. Your comprehensive list is the most helpful thing I have come across in the last year. Thank you for taking the time to share these insights to help others like us, who often feel lonely and just get on with situations, despite how challenging simple tasks usually are. I have related with at least 50% of what you have written about and I am really grateful. Keep up the amazing work.

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