One-Handed Living Tips & Useful Assistive Devices

One-hand living tips and advice

Disclosure: Some links may be affiliate links. If you buy an item via links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.


For some people, the loss of an arm or the use of an arm through things like amputation, stroke and broken bones can make life incredibly difficult.

When you’ve been used to having function in both arms, the world can feel like a totally new place when you’re trying to do things one-handed. Thankfully, there are things you can do to make things easier, and you’ll find plenty of assistive devices to boost the use of your one hand.

Personal Care One-Handed Tips & Advice

Personal care one-handed tips & advice

Taking care of yourself when you only have the use of one hand can be made easier when you follow these tips and advice.

Washing & Drying

When it comes to washing and drying yourself, it’s important to make sure that you have everything you’re going to need to hand. Choose your equipment wisely as some things are more difficult to use one-handed. For example, it’s easier to wring out a sponge than it is a wash cloth when using one hand.

  • When using a sponge, it can be helpful to place it on your knee before rubbing soap onto it.
  • You might also have a suction cup holder with soap in it so you can simply rub your sponge or washcloth over it.
  • Automatic soap dispensers are also useful as you’ll only need to place the sponge underneath and allow the dispenser to dispense the soap.
  • You should be able to reach most areas of your body with just one hand, provided you have relatively good flexibility. However, if there are areas that you struggle to reach, using a long handled loofah or sponge can help you to access these places.
  • To dry yourself, you can sling your towel over your back and then use your working hand to pull it down. Repeat this on the other side.
  • You might also hang the towel on a hook so that you can rub your body.
  • If you’re finding it really difficult to reach certain parts of your body then it is possible to use a hair dryer to dry yourself. Just be careful not to burn yourself when doing this and have the dryer on a low heat.

Washing & Drying Your Hair

  • It can be helpful to wash your hair over a bath or basin using the shower head for rinsing.
  • Make sure that any shampoo, conditioner, or other hair care products are in flip-top bottles as these won’t be as challenging to open.
  • When it comes to drying your hair, use a lightweight hair dryer to reduce arm fatigue.
  • There are stands you can purchase that sit on a desk or dresser and you clamp the hairdryer in. Turn on the dryer and then place your head in front of it for hands-free drying.
  • You might choose a hot brush designed for drying hair which is often easier.
  • Choose your hairstyle wisely as one that is easy to style won’t require as much effort.

Shaving & Hair Removal

Part of personal grooming involves shaving and hair removal, but this isn’t always easy when using one hand.

  • If you find hair removal too difficult, you might decide to attend a salon for waxing or permanent hair removal treatments such as laser removal.
  • An electric razor is much safer when removing hair from the face.
  • Products like hair removal cream can come in useful for areas such as the underarms, legs and bikini area.

Cleaning Your Teeth

Good oral hygiene is a must, and there are some great ways to make it easier when you only have the use of one hand.

  • When applying toothpaste to the toothbrush, place it on the countertop.
  • Using flip-lid toothpaste or a dispenser can make applying toothpaste much easier.
  • If you are cleaning dentures, try attaching the toothbrush to the sink with a suction cup.
  • Instead of applying the toothpaste to the toothbrush, squirt it into your mouth and then begin brushing.
  • For flossing, there are flossing tools with a long handle to make this less fiddly.

Trimming Your Nails

If you like to keep your nails short then you’ll need to be able to safely and effectively trim them using one hand.

  • For total ease, you might go to a nail salon for a manicure.
  • You can purchase mounted nail clippers which allow you to cut both fingers and toenails using just one hand.
  • When filing the nails, you can sit on the emery board to hold it in place and then run your nails along it. Alternatively, you can secure the board to a surface using double-sided tape.

Toileting

  • For the easiest toileting hygiene, we would recommend using a toilet paper dispenser like those you see in public restrooms.
  • When using standard toilet roll, use your forefinger and thumb to grab hold of the perforations allowing you to tear the tissue away more easily.
  • Using a standing toilet roll holder can be easier if a dispenser is not available.
  • To make cleaning yourself quicker and easier, try using moist tissue paper or wet wipes. Make sure these are suitable for flushing.

Personal Care One-Handed Assistive Devices

As well as following the advice above, it can also be useful to include assistive devices in your personal care routines. Here are some of the most common.

Hair Dryer Stand

360 Degree Rotating Hands-Free Height Adjustable Hair Dryer Stand

A hair dryer stand has a clamp at the top in which you can position your hair dryer. The adjustable pole allows you to set the stand to the desired height, and then you only need to stand in front of the hair dryer once it is switched on. These stands also feature 360º rotating heads and adjustable angles so you can dry your hair in a position that feels most comfortable for you.

Suction Fingernail Brush

Hand and Nail Cleaning Brush with Suction Cups

For cleaning your fingernails, you can use a suction cup fingernail brush that attaches to the wall. These brushes can be attached to any smooth, solid surface such as a basin, mirror, tiles, and other similar surfaces.

Long-Handled Brush & Sponge

Long-Handled Exfoliating Body Brush with Bristles and Loofah

If you struggle to reach certain parts of your body when bathing then a long-handled brush and sponge can help you to access these places. They feature a comfortable contoured handle for great grip, and depending on which you buy, there may be a sponge, loofah, massager, or brush.

Automatic Pump Soap Dispenser

Automatic Liquid Soap Dispenser

If you use liquid soap then rather than squeezing it out of a bottle which may require two hands, you could use an automatic soap dispenser. These battery-operated devices dispense a preset amount of soap which is ideal for bathing and hand washing.

Toothpaste Dispenser

Wall-Mounted Toothbrush and Toothpaste Dispenser

Similar to a soap dispenser, a toothpaste dispenser will apply a preset amount of toothpaste to your toothbrush so that you don’t have to struggle. They often come with slots for toothbrushes, tubes of toothpaste, and other accessories.

Buckingham EasyWipe

Buckingham Compact Folding Easywipe Toilet Aid

If you find it difficult to reach around to clean yourself after using the toilet then you could use the Buckingham EasyWipe. This simple aid holds toilet paper and wet wipes and has an elongated handle that allows you easier access for post-toilet cleaning.

Long-Handled Razor Holder

Razor Extension Handle

When reaching down to shave your legs or other hard-to-reach areas on the body, a long-handled razor holder will eliminate the need for bending or straining yourself. They usually come with a telescopic handle so you can adjust the device to the appropriate length and feature a textured grip for safe shaving.

Long-Reach Toe Nail Clipper

Long-Handled Toenail Clippers

For people who find it difficult to bend down and cut their toenails, there are long-reach nail clippers that take away the need to exert yourself. The nail clipper opening is usually wider, so you don’t need such intricate control to get it onto your nails, and the trigger control requires the use of just one hand.

Dressing One-Handed Tips & Advice

Dressing one-handed tips & advice

Getting dressed is surprisingly intricate and fiddly, but this is something that many of us take for granted. When we only have the use of one hand, it suddenly becomes obvious that we might need to take heed of some simple tips and tricks.

General Dressing Tips

  • Choose your materials carefully. Clothes with more flexibility, such as lycra and elastane can be easier to put on.
  • Make sure that you dress the affected arm before anything else.
  • If you can choose garments that allow you to step in or pull them over your head, these are much easier to use.
  • Partly fasten your clothing before putting it on.

Bra Fastening

  • Wearing a sports-style pull-over bra eliminates the need to work with any complicated fastenings.
  • When fastening your bra, do this at the front before swiveling the garment around and pulling the straps over your shoulders.
  • It is possible to adapt your bra with D rings which are much easier to fasten.

Clothes Fastenings

A lot of fastenings on clothing can be done up with one hand if you practice a little. However, some things such as shirt cuffs can be a little more difficult with one hand.

  • Fasten the cuff button before putting on the shirt if this is possible.
  • Use expanding cuff links
  • Raise the button slightly by sewing in an additional button underneath as this will make it easier to get it into the hole.
  • Replace the button with a Velcro fastening.
  • Choose your shirts carefully. Those with vertical buttonholes are not as fiddly as those with horizontal ones.

Putting Shoes On

  • Where possible, use slip on shoes.
  • Where slip on shoes are not possible, opt for those with Velcro or zippers, which are less hassle to fasten.
  • If you have trouble reaching down to your feet then using a long handled shoe horn can be helpful.

Tying Shoelaces

Tying shoelaces almost always requires the use of two hands. However, one-handed users can follow these tips to make things easier.

  • Search the internet for instructional videos on how to tie your shoes with one hand.
  • Tying shoes one-handed usually involves using your first three fingers and your thumb to tighten the lace.
  • Choose shoes with elastic or curly laces, as these better accommodate the size of your feet so are easier to manage.

Putting on a Watch

Putting on a watch with any kind of fastening can be extremely difficult one-handed. However, there are elasticated watches that stretch and can be simply placed over the wrist.

Dressing One-Handed Assistive Devices

There is no need to struggle when dressing yourself if you only have the use of one hand. There are plenty of assistive devices you can use to improve the function of your one hand.

Dressing Stick

28-Inch Long Dressing Stick

A dressing stick is a long handled device designed to aid the user in pulling clothes on or up when dressing. Some devices also have a zipper aid which allows you to do up and undo zippers without the need to use both hands.

Buckingham Bra Angel Dressing Aid

Buckingham Bra Angel Dressing Aid

A bra angel is a simple device that can help you fasten a bra without struggling. The device sits around the neck and extends down onto the chest.

You secure the Bra Angel by holding your chin on the pink pad while attaching the end of your bra to the bottom of the device. You are then able to use one hand to wrap the bra around your back and bring the hooks to the front where the Bra Angel holds the other hooks in place as you fasten them together. Once fastened, you can then twist the bra around so that the cups are at the front and pull the straps over your shoulders.

Zip-Grip Zipper Pull

Zip-Grip Zipper Pull

Working a zipper with one hand can be extremely tricky, but a zip-grip zipper puller changes all that. This is a small and simple device that snaps over the zipper and has a loop which you can grab to pull the zipper up and down.

Button Hook

Button Hook Assist Device

If you cannot or do not want to replace your buttons with press studs or Velcro then a button hook might help. These devices have a wire hook that slips through the buttonhole, grabbing the button and pulling it through. They can be easily used with just one hand.

Adaptive Clothing

Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive Magnetic Long Sleeve Button Down Shirt

There are several types of adaptive clothing, including open back tops and dresses that eliminate the need to pull the garment over the head. You will also find a range of open back pants and skirts which can be put on in a similar way. Some adaptive clothing such as jackets and coats feature magnetic closures which are far less fiddly than buttons.

Food Preparation One-Handed Tips & Advice

Food preparation one-handed tips & advice

Not only can preparing a meal be difficult using one hand, it may be dangerous if it isn’t approached in the right manner.

Cutting & Slicing Food

If you try to cut or slice food without using the correct one handed techniques, then there is a high risk that you may slip and injure yourself.

  • Place food items for cutting on a damp towel or a non-slip mat or board.
  • Using a food preparation board gives you more control over cutting with one hand. These boards have vices which will hold the food still as you cut. These boards can also be used for grating.
  • Using an electric chopper or slicer eliminates the need for manual cutting and is considered much safer.

Mixing Food

Normally, when you mix food, you would need one hand to hold the container still while using the other to mix. Here are some tips for getting the job done when one hand is out of action.

  • If you have an electric mixer, then this is the safest and easiest option.
  • Pot holders attach to the hob with suction cups and keep the pan in place while you stir.
  • When mixing in a bowl on the countertop, use a non-slip mat or rubber suction cup to keep the bowl in place.
  • There are stove guards that attach to the worktop and feature holes for the pan handles. This secures them so that they don’t move about while you stir.

Opening Jars

While there are devices that you can buy to help open jars, these may not always be available. To open the jar with one hand, simply place it between your thighs while seated and use your unaffected hand to unscrew. It can be helpful to run the jar under hot water before opening to loosen the lid a little.

Opening Cans

The only viable way to open a can using one hand is to purchase a one-handed can opener. These feature a magnet that keeps the can opener attached to the tin while you use your unaffected hand to open it.

Storing Food

Make sure that you store any leftovers in containers that are easy to open with one hand. Anything that requires hand strength or twisting should be avoided.

There are some containers that have a tab you can pull to remove the lid, while others have buttons that, when pressed, open the container.

Washing Up

  • Use a sponge or cloth to wash dishes and pots.
  • Where possible, allow the items to air dry before putting them away.
  • If you need to hand dry items, do this while sitting down. You can place a towel across your knees and rub the items over the towel with your unaffected hand.

Food Preparation One-Handed Assistive Devices

Manufacturers have heeded the call for one handed kitchen devices and as such, you won’t have to struggle to prepare a meal.

Non-Slip Mat

Non-Slip Cutting Board Mats

Non-slip mats are essential in the kitchen. They can be placed on the countertop and provide a secure base for things like chopping and mixing. They’ll also come in handy in other situations, such as when writing.

Rocker Knife

Stainless Steel Mezzaluna

Rocker knives come with horizontal handles which allow you to get a better grip on them. That said, there are those with regular handles if you find these easier to work with. The knife is designed in such a way that you only need to rock it back and forth over the item you wish to cut rather than chopping or sawing.

There are also rocker knives available for eating which are slightly smaller than those designed for food preparation.

One-Handed Chopping Board / Swedish Chopping Board

Single-Handed Cutting Board

One handed chopping boards come in many forms. Most have a vice or clamp that allows you to secure the food while cutting, and others have a blade attached. There are also those that have areas where you can place a container when grating or chopping foods.

Automatic Can Opener

Electric Can Opener

An automatic can opener is a free standing, compact device that you can set on your countertop. It features a built-in tin opener which automatically opens cans using a simple on/off button.

One-Handed Jar Opener

One-Handed Jar and Bottle Opener

An incredibly simple yet effective device, the one-handed jar opener grips onto the jar, allowing you to use your free hand to unscrew the lid. These jar openers come with various sized holes which allow you to open a variety of different jars.

Food Chopper

OXO Good Grips Chopper

Instead of struggling to chop food with a knife, you might opt for a food chopper. These devices have a compartment to put in food and internal blades which are activated by a simple stopper button at the top. There are measurement markings so you can get the right size pieces every time.

Clamp-On Vegetable Peeler

Clamp-On Vegetable and Fruit Peeler

If you find that peeling vegetables with one hand is difficult and dangerous then a clamp on vegetable peeler might work in your kitchen. These devices clamp onto the countertop and have a built-in peeler which you can simply run the food over with your unaffected hand.

Washing-Up Brush with Suction Cup

Dishwashing Long-Handle Brush with Suction Cup

Using one hand to wash up isn’t always easy, but these suction cup brushes allow you to get the job done. They attach to a smooth, solid surface using a suction cup, and you can then scrub your plates, bowls, pans and cutlery over the brush using one hand.

One-Handed Jar Set

Pack of 5 Clear Glass Easy to Open Food Storage Jars Containers

One-handed jars eliminate the need to twist off a cap. Instead, they feature a push button which releases the lid and allows you to lift it off. These are ideal for people who have limited strength in their unaffected hand.

There are also some one-handed jars that do not have a push button but have lids with extended rims which can be easily pulled up with one hand.

Eating One-Handed Tips & Advice

Eating one-handed tips & advice

Using cutlery and eating with one hand doesn’t have to be a challenge. To retain your independence, there are lots of things you can do to make feeding yourself a lot less challenging

Eating

  • As we have already discussed, there are rocker knives which can be used at the dining table. It’s a good idea to start by cutting up all of your food before you start eating so you don’t have to keep tackling it throughout the meal.
  • Adaptive cutlery is a great way to eat using one hand. Many of these devices double up to create a multifunction tool. For example, there are forks that have a cutting edge and also a deeper body that can be used as a spoon.
  • Choose plates that have a lipped edge as this will make it easier to scoop food up with one hand without it falling off the side.
  • When eating at a table, using a non-slip mat will prevent your plate from moving around which could result in spillages.

Eating One-Handed Assistive Devices

As you can see from the section above, there are lots of assistive devices that can make eating your meals much easier when you only have the use of one hand. Let’s take a look at these in a little more detail.

Scoop Plate with Suction Base

Scooper Plate with Suction Cup Base

Using a plate with a suction base will ensure that it does not move around while you are eating, giving you more stability. Scoop plates feature a curved, raised side, which you can use to scoop food up with a spoon or fork. This prevents you from losing food over the side of the plate.

Scooper Bowl with Suction Base

Scooper Bowl with Suction Cup Base

Similar to the scoop plate above, a scooper bowl has raised edges which make it easier to get food out without it falling over the edge. Again, these bowls have a suction cup at the base to stop them from moving around while you eat.

Divided Dinner Plate

Divided Plate

Divided dinner plates have various sections into which you can place different foods. The partitions between each section can be used to push food onto your spoon or fork which is ideal when eating with one hand. However, you should note that these partitions are not as raised as the sides on the bowls and plates above making them unsuitable for softer foods like coleslaw.

Knork

Knork Stainless Steel Forks (Set of 4)

A knork is a type of adaptive cutlery that eliminates the need to use a separate knife and fork. If you find a rocker knife too difficult then a knork might be better for you. These forks have comfortable and easy to grip handles as well as a cutting edge so you can cut your food and then fork it into your mouth with a single utensil.

Non-Slip Placement Mats

Silicone Waterproof and Heat Resistant Non-Slip Placemats

Similar to the non-slip mats we discussed for kitchen use, non-slip placement mats give you somewhere to put your plate or bowl without the risk of it sliding around. This makes eating, especially hot food, a lot safer.

Similar Posts