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Living with a Chronic Condition: Simple Ways to Increase Water Accessibility at Home

Almost half of the U.S. population or 133 million Americans are living with at least one chronic condition, while 40% of adults experience two or more. While experiences vary from person to person, living with a chronic condition can impact several facets of everyday life, whether it’s chronic fatigue, arthritis, or conditions that impact mobility, leaving access to proper hydration and water a challenge for many. From how you can effectively enhance access to hydration throughout the day to how home modifications can help, here are just three key ways in which those living with a chronic condition can increase water accessibility at home.

The advantages of making small changes

Large, reusable water bottles can be a great solution for those who need access to hydration throughout the day, without having to constantly head to the kitchen. This can be particularly beneficial to those who experience chronic fatigue or mobility issues, however, such water bottles can go a step further in increasing accessibility to hydration. Chronic conditions such as arthritis, for instance, can make using a single-use plastic water bottle both difficult and painful. Eco-friendly, reusable options, on the other hand, bring a variety of styles to the table, from models that are easier to open and clean to those that feature handles. The Wide Mouth Anti-Bottle, for instance, provides a flexible, easy-to-grip body and is easy to wash, making it easier on the hands. The design also makes hydration more accessible on the go, as it can be tucked away into a pocket or purse once empty — not to mention the fact that it’s freezable, making a great option for an at-home ice pack when addressing issues like chronic pain.

To further enhance hydration accessibility throughout the day, a simple rolling cart or trolley can serve as a ‘hydration station,’ in which extra water, electrolyte drinks, and other items (such as a thermos full of hot water for tea) can be stored for easy access. Preparing the cart at the beginning of the day can allow those with chronic fatigue to do so at a time of peak energy, and will ensure that hydration is easily available should exhaustion creep up later on. This can also serve as a great solution for those who experience chronic pain or mobility issues, too, by effectively keeping hydration options within reach throughout the day.

Bathroom modifications for easier access

Increasing access to water at home can oftentimes extend beyond hydration. Those with symptoms such as aches, pains, and stiff joints can make not only getting around, but activities such as washing hands or showering more difficult. For many, chronic illness can be experienced in tandem with a disability, or vice versa. For example, a wheelchair user may experience chronic fatigue, thus further underlining the value of accessibility in areas like the bathroom. When looking to increase water accessibility, simple modifications — such as installing a shower chair or hand rails — can go a long way in adding much needed support. Detachable shower heads can further allow for accessibility to water for those who are unable to stand in the shower for long periods of time, while installing lever handles for the sink can increase accessibility for those who may be unable to turn knobs due to arthritic hands.

Landlords catering to tenants with a chronic condition or disability need to take accessibility into consideration as well. While it’s required under the law that landlords make reasonable adjustments to a property for tenants with disabilities, understanding the scope of the responsibility is imperative. This means ensuring that the property is able to be used by a disabled individual, through a change in rules, policies, or services. Examples of this include the installation of accessible features, such as railings as well as making changes to showering and bathing facilities — for instance, if a property has a bath only, then grab rails should be installed for support and safety. On the other hand, properties that have a shower may need to have a roll-in shower installed (or otherwise be adapted, i.e. installing a shower stool).  

Kitchen considerations

Additional home modifications — particularly in the kitchen — can also benefit those who may experience mobility issues or chronic conditions like arthritis. This includes helpful installations such as a hose faucet extender for the sink as well as easy to use lever handles vs. knobs. For those with limited hand function, devices such as kettle tippers can make access to hot water both safer and simpler without the risk of spilling and burns, though there are several other kitchen modifications that can further make accessibility to water features in the kitchen easier. For example, refrigerators with external water dispensers can further allow for easy to access water, while the installation of a pot filler faucet can allow for large pots to be filled safely.

Living with a chronic condition can make several aspects of daily life a challenge, from staying hydrated throughout the day to showering and effectively using the kitchen. Various modifications, however, can make things easier — whether it’s an accessible water bottle or the installation of lever style faucets.

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