Ugly Aides

I was lucky enough to have an Occupational Therapist visit my home and make adaptations to make my life easier. They had installed grabrails in all the bathrooms and the offer of more equipment than my house could withstand. The grab rails were drab but bright white so not too offensive. They were useful and that all that mattered.

Then the fun started, the screws attaching the grab rails began to rust and drip orange down white tiles ( Sorry, Mum!!) as they were on the wall over the bath underneath the spray of the shower. The sun started to turn them a slightly odd neon shade of yellow.

I had gone from slightly blandly clinical to eyesores in a matter of years. I will forever be grateful for the help I am lucky enough to receive to make day to day living easier but I’m tired of aides not being aesthetically pleasing. I find myself feeling a stab of guilt after typing this but it’s true; the use of aides might be for safety and practical reasons, but do they have to look so UGLY when I know they could be seamlessly fitting in with their surroundings. Take aeroplanes seats, for example, they have to try and save you from impact and potential death, yet they are designed to look pretty, add comfort all because a big company can and will order many.

I know the main issue is that most ‘unwell or disabled’ tend to be the elderly it’s a tiny market and it is about affordability and practicality. I long for a brushed chrome grab rail and if I need a shower seat/bench in the future I want them to be made of wood. I don’t see why we can’t make these practical items stylish. I would use them more if they were so.

If you look onto Pinterest there are hundreds of designs that make the grab rails look sculptural or a point of interest or simply blend in. I am going to buy new grab rails once Dad and I can suss it out and it will make a huge difference to me. I am in my twenties and sometimes need to be convinced I’m still young. I’m not in the greige part of life just yet.

After a recent visit to an ‘Independent Living Center’ I can tell you how old and incapable I felt after being surrounded in beige and brown for a few hours. I was surprised at how much you needed to buy yourself and if it had a ‘prettier option’ that was only a private purchase option. We live in a world of cutting edge design so why does this area of the market resemble the seventies brown couture?

I know a lot of people who buy their aides so they can choose how they look or have the option to customise them. I will forever be grateful for living in a country that helps people like me by loaning equipment and making sure that people with disabilities have access to things that enhance their lives. But like the mobility scheme transferred to being about adapting normal cars many years ago, I feel like we should be trying to be moving towards ordinary rather than practical.

Is it too much to ask to want to be able to not have items that scream about your disability or what you are incapable of doing unless you want to catch attention to your neon crutches for example? I want to have the choice in how my home looks without having to pay several hundred pounds. Why does a grab rail need to cost so much money in a different colour?

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