Category Archives: Staying at Home

AT Round Up


By Aimee Sterk, LMSW

I’ve heard about and used some cool AT recently that doesn’t all fit in one category for a cohesive blog post, but I still want to share these with you, so in no particular order, enjoy these apps, devices, and resources.


The Atlantic had a great article about relieving anxiety through singing using the Songify App. I’m very much going to give this a try! Songify allows you to take intrusive anxious thoughts and make them feel more trivial by turning them into a funny song. The author took her fear of having contracted leishmaniasis and turned it into a song you can listen to in the article. My brain does a great job of generating fears. I think Songify will help me fight back. My psychiatrist also informed me that negative thinking/negative self-talk can also be mediated using singing. She gave the example of singing “I’m so stupid” to Camptown Races. The beauty of music therapy of all sorts! Songify is available on iOS, Android, and Google Play. What apps and AT do you use for anxiety and/or negative self-talk?


Inspired after seeing her grandmother struggle with eating after developing Alzheimer’s, the designer of EatWell created an adaptive dining set. It is user-centered design and helps to increase food intake and maintain dignity, while also making the process of eating as easy as possible. In this way, users can feed themselves for as long as possible. The design has more than 20 features including colors to help users distinguish food, no-slip bases, slanted bottoms to help users gather food without having to scoop, ergonomic handles, and spoon heads that match the curves of the bowls and basin. The set even comes with a tray with clips which would allow the user to attach a bib or apron to prevent food staining clothes. The EatWell set has won many awards including the 2014 Stanford Design Challenge.

An Eatwell set on a tray that includes clips to attach an apron, two cups woth large bases and contrasting bright colors and large comfortable handles, two ergonomic, built up spoons, two plates that are deep with slanted bases to aid in loaning food on the spoon.


Making Food Preparation Easier

I’ve been having more trouble with fatigue lately, especially after finding out I’m pregnant. For me this means having the energy to cook healthy meals is a challenge. I also was talking to some people I know who use home and community based supports to live in the community. They were talking about finding the energy to cook for themselves because the Meals On Wheels in our community is just not very good. We discussed cutting back on the need for intensive prep and clean up to conserve energy and swapped recipe ideas for Sheet Pan Suppers and One-pot Meals. There are some great options for recipes online that require less energy and time in prep and clean up. EatingWell has some delicious sheet-pan recipes, though they have more costly ingredients than some other recipe sites. I especially enjoy the kale potato hash with eggs and the mini meatloaves with green beans and potatoes. I also found some sheet-pan recipes on Allrecipes I want to try. I find myself using things like pre-shredded cabbage and my food processor more often now and digging out my 30 minute meal cookbooks. I also put away my heavy cast iron cookware and get out lighter pieces like my ceramic non-stick everyday pan which can cook an entire meal but is light weight and easy to clean. It can also go from stovetop to oven or vice versa. What are your cooking hacks?

the ceramic everyday pan is a 12 inch saute pan that is deep and has rounded handles on both sides riveted to the pan. It has a dome lid with a large handle on top and is ceramic non-stick lined.

You know, maybe these aren’t so random after all–I do a lot of cooking and eating when I’m anxious–and I’m working on the anxious eating part.


Experiencing Universal Design for a Day


By MATP Staff Member Laura Hall

A few weeks ago, staff from the Michigan Assistive Technology Program joined staff from Disability Network/Michigan (Centers for Independent Living) at Transitions Remodeling in Farmington Hills for a tour of their universal design showroom and hands-on interaction with assistive technology for the home.

At first, I was excited to see what I thought was going to be an “accessible” model home. I quickly realized, however, that the philosophy and designs at Transitions Remodeling centered around universal design, not just accessibility.  Universal design is more about creating an environment that will work for everyone, not just a person with the disability. It is also meant to allow people to age in place, and meet the person’s needs as they age and change.

A bidet toilet showing the water cleansing stream and controls on the side of the toiletWe explored the designs and technology used in the bathroom, including shower seats, grab bars, handheld shower heads, and specially designed floor tiles to reduce the risk of falls. I was also introduced for the first time (and got to try out) a bidet toilet. Popular in many other countries, bidet toilets have a water sprayer to help with personal hygiene and allow many people who would otherwise need assistance to take care of their needs independently in the bathroom. The model we looked at, known as the Toto, even had a dryer and a heated toilet seat.  it is not often talked about, but technology such as this can also help cut down on medical problems such as urinary tract infections.

Rev-A-Shelf shown in a high cabinet. Wire Shelving with a pull down bar


Our tour of the kitchen was my favorite part.  We were shown a pantry with slide out drawers, a dishwasher with two levels that were accessible from a seated height, and a water faucet that turned on by touch.  I was amazed by the Rev- a Shelf built into high cupboards that could be pulled down and pushed back up using a bar.  My personal favorite was the induction cook top with all the control buttons on the side built a base lift that raised and lowered by button.

We were also introduced to home safety and monitoring devices. For example, the Kwikset Smart Code Touchscreen allows you to set different security codes for different people at different times.  If you have a caregiver that comes in from 3pm-5pm, their unique code will work for that time period only.  Many home monitoring devices are now available to work with you smartphone or tablet.  You can turn on/off your lights, set a lighting ambiance or monitor who is at your front door all by using your own device,

The MV-1 in red. The side ramp is extended and inside are the driver, passenger in a wheelchair, two children and a dog in the backseat.As a bonus, our group was also given a look at the new MV-1 accessible vehicle from Mobility Ventures.  The vehicle is meant to accommodate wheelchairs whether they be the passenger or the driver.  Unlike most accessible vehicles, the MV-1 is purchased “as is” without extensive retrofitting, or lowered floors that can often scrape in driveways, snow, etc.

I hope for a day when everything will be built will the principles of universal design.  This experience gave me the opportunity to see the possibilities and dream of owning a universally designed home.   Have you thought about universal design for your current home or in the future?


What Home Adaptations Would Help You?


By Brenda Henige, Michigan Assistive Technology Loan Fund (MATLF) Coordinator, United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) of Michigan staff

Do you have a disability and need some type of assistive technology to improve your functioning? You may need a modified vehicle or a home modification for accessibility. Residents of Michigan who have a disability or their family members can apply to borrow money from the Michigan Assistive Technology Loan Fund (MATLF) to obtain needed equipment or tools (assistive technology or AT), modified vehicles or modifications to a vehicle, or home modifications for accessibility through this program.

man in manual wheelchair pulling down a rod in a closetThe program provides loans for home modifications as long as they will increase the applicant’s accessibility within the house, apartment, or on the property, such as installation of ramps, roll-in showers, or other modifications. Individuals with hearing, vision, or other disabilities may benefit from various modifications to improve accessibility within their homes.

An individual may apply to borrow up to $30,000 and there is no minimum amount required to borrow since many home modifications may cost hundreds of dollars or much less than the maximum allowed. Here are two home modifications that MATLF approved last year:

An individual who has a mobility disability and uses a wheelchair was able to obtain modifications to his home’s bathroom, including having the doorways widened and installing an adapted shower so he can shower without assistance. MATLF loan enabled him to get around in his bathroom using his wheelchair and to shower on his own. The counter tops are now lower and drawers are located where he can reach them.

MATLF approved an accessible breezeway to connect an individual’s home to his garage. This included a ramp and plenty of room for his wheelchair to pass through. With this loan, he is now able to go to his garage where he does woodworking projects. His relative commented that this has changed his personality. Now he can go to his garage workshop whenever he wants to and spends a lot of time there working on his projects.

As the new loan fund coordinator, I have seen that this program which allows people with disabilities to borrow money to improve their independence and productivity really does empower them to accomplish more and to truly be more independent.

Please contact me for more information on the loan program at or at . You may also view loan fund information by going to our website and clicking on the link “Assistive Technology”.

Note: More information about funding for home modifications can also be found in MATP’s Funding Strategy!


New Grocery Store Service Becomes AT


By Aimee Sterk, LMSW, MATP

Many products originally designed as assistive technology (AT) for people with disabilities have become mainstream conveniences everyone enjoys—automatic doors, text to speech/speech to text. Now our regional grocery superstore, Meijer, is offering curbside pickup, a service that is be great AT for people with disabilities. The service is currently offered at five locations in Michigan and four locations in Ohio.

a wire shopping basket filled to the brim with fruits and vegetables

Meijer has developed an online portal that lists almost every item in their store. Customers can use the portal to shop and then pick a time to arrive to pick up their order at the curbside. No hassling with blocked aisles, items on too-high shelves, crowds, or confusion to manage. I’ve used this service myself two times now and really appreciate it. Older adults, people with physical disabilities, people with young families, and people with agoraphobia/social phobia/PTSD or other mental health disabilities can really benefit from not having to get out of the car and go into the store. I know, for myself, I have to have many spoons at the ready and mentally prepare myself for the onslaught of busy shoppers before I go into Meijer—and I try to pick times with very few people. In fact, just looking at and picking out the pictures below brought on anxiety.

overhead view of very crowded grocery aisles


the front end of a grocery store with mobs of people trying samples and waiting to check out







Curbside pick up to the rescue! For the first month, this new service was free. Now it costs $5. I’ve written to Meijer to see if they waive this fee for people with disabilities and/or low income and will post an update when I hear back.

With the push for same-day delivery from Amazon and to-your-door delivery of organic groceries or farm vegetables, this is a great, locally-based alternative that meets needs, a mainstream convenience that can also be AT.

What services or devices help you with your grocery shopping?