Tools That Help Me as a Prepper with Mobility Issues

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Author of How to Prep When You’re Broke and Bloom Where You’re Planted online course

Being a prepper with mobility issues can be tough, and that’s even before the possible need to bug out on foot through the forest. What used to be easy and done without a second thought now requires planning, pain, and exhaustion. But before we ever get to anything extreme, there are things we need to do at home that can be difficult under some circumstances. I’ve found a few tools that help me as a prepper with mobility issues, and I’m going to share them here in the hopes they help you, too.

How I became a prepper with mobility issues

A little background: a year and a half ago, what felt like a mild ankle sprain was actually a torn tendon. Me being me, I pushed through and the situation did not improve. I’ve been seeing a doctor back in the US for the past 7 months, and it’s only gotten worse. There is almost a full rupture just below the inner ankle bone. Now, to prevent it from fully separating, I have to limit my steps. I can’t carry heavy things that might strain it, and it’s constantly painful.

The things that help me may not help you. I do have some mobility, though it’s limited. I can walk (well, limp) and manage things around the house pretty well. But soon, I’ll be having surgery to reconstruct that tendon, and many of the items here will no longer help me at all for at least six weeks when I am not able to bear weight on that foot.

I already had some of these things and bought the others. If you’re mobile at all, you may find these items helpful. Once I have surgery, I’ll write another article like this for when I have to use crutches and a knee scooter.

A grocery cart

I use this grocery cart multiple times every week. It folds up and lives against the wall of my apartment behind the door. If you had a front hall closet, the folded version would easily slide in.

How I use it:

  • When groceries get delivered, I don’t like to let people in the house. I bring this cart outside and then pull it back in once they’ve loaded it from their car. Then I roll my food straight to the refrigerator and pantry to put it away.
  • On laundry day, I can’t be lugging heavy hampers to my laundry room, which is fortunately on the same floor. I pop the hamper into the cart and wheel it there. It’ll fit 2-3 smallish hampers.

The grocery cart is probably the thing I use the most. It’s nice because it also provides the user a little bit of support.

A wagon

I have a folding wagon which I don’t use quite as often but still find helpful if I have a large, ungainly package of some sort. The nice thing about the wagon is that the sides are down lower, so I don’t have to try and awkwardly squat down and lift something really large and heavy all the way up, then back down into the grocery cart.

This comes in handy when I have a larger package delivered. They aren’t brought right to my door so I have a short walk to get them. If it’s a larger item, such as a piece of furniture that I’m going to assemble or a few cases of canned goods, I can’t carry these packages. I break out the wagon, move the items into it, and wheel it back to my apartment.

You can use it to bring things in from the car, too. It folds down well and fits in almost any trunk with plenty of room to spare.

It has big, chunky off-road-type wheels and rolls easily over grass, paving stones, or whatever I need to roll it over.  So there’s more utility to it than the grocery cart, which is pretty finicky about liking flat surfaces. Because of this, it could easily be used for outdoor tasks as well. But because it’s fabric, you’ll want to line it with a trashbag before moving messy things. If you plan to use your wagon for gardening, you might want something specific to the outside. This one is a good price and easy to hose off, though I’d say it’s more like a small wheelbarrow than a wagon.

A dolly cart

Another thing I use regularly is a dolly cart. I, like most people, had one for moving heavy stacks of boxes. But I’ve found that I use it for other purposes too.

One thing I use it for is to wheel my generator around the apartment during a power outage. The battery section is heavy, and lifting it in and out of carts and wagons isn’t ideal. I simply slide it onto the dolly cart, and moving it where I need it is simple.

When choosing a dolly cart, I recommend the kind that doesn’t fold up – it’s just one less point for potential failure. Mine is all one piece, and I’ve had it for at least a decade. (And y’all know how often we move!)

I do have another utility cart, but it’s too big for use around the house.

A rolling office chair

When doing things that require a lot of bending or squatting, I make use of my rolling office chair. It’s quite simple to wheel it into the kitchen to put things away on the bottom shelves or to reach the plumbing under the sink, and it keeps the strain off my ankle. I also use it if I’m cleaning out the refrigerator or doing other tasks that would require prolonged time squatting. I have this one, which I’d gotten for my office, but you don’t need anything fancy for these tasks. A cheap $30-50 one will do just fine.

These are my go-to items as a prepper with mobility issues.

This short list may not offer anything groundbreaking, but perhaps it will give you some ideas you haven’t considered before. I find all the things extremely useful, and they’d be useful for folks who can get around well, too. I had several of the things before my injury but definitely rely on them more now. Every bit of independence that I can maintain is important. I don’t want to have to wait for help to reach low shelves or move my portable generator to where it needs to be.

I hope you find these ideas useful if you are a prepper with mobility issues or if you love someone with these concerns. In a few weeks, I’ll share what I’ve learned about getting things done when I can’t bear weight on that leg at all.

If you also struggle with mobility, do you have any other things that help you in the house or yard? Other ways you move things from point A to point B? Ways to reach awkward places? I’d love to hear your ideas.

Please help your fellow preppers out and share your ideas in the comments section.

About Daisy

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media and she has appeared in many interviews.

Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at SelfRelianceand Survival.com You can find her on FacebookPinterest,  Instagram, and Twitter.

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • That wagon can be stored in your car when you’re healed to haul things back home if your car no longer runs due to an EMP. It’s great for hauling things when you don’t have a healthy back but want to carry your bugout stuff.

  • I live in a semi-rural area. So… A wheelbarrow. (in place of a grocery cart) A come along, to remove/move fallen trees. And a dc and ac winch. Crowbars, various sizes. Extra rope.
    Love your website Daisy. M

  • Yes, I got those way in advance of my knee replacement surgery. I love the wagon and the “granny” grocery cart. I have also used those at craft fairs (like Harvest Festival) when buying lots of stuff. I have a dolly cart (not as nice as yours) but am lacking the utility cart which would save me from hauling heavy seasonal stuff back and forth. When you get older, or broken, or just tired; these things are a GodSend!! However my current house has 4 steps to the back and front doors. Ugh! You end up carrying a lot to just load it up to wheel it. There is a lot to say for one floor plans!

  • A person (like myself) who is mobility challenged has to do a lot more advance planning for disasters than the able-in-body folks. Fortunately there is a lot of planning guides available online and people should make use of them. https://www.ready.gov/disability is a good place to start. Too many people focus on SHTF when it’s being unprepared for the yearly natural disasters that are more likely to kill you. There are lots of handy tools and gear to solve the daily mobility challenges (as per the article) but by extension, the mobility challenges are amplified during any disaster and a workable plan for both shelter in place and evacuation is definitely needed BEFORE any actual disaster hits. Another good article on keys to disaster survival is this one: https://www.npr.org/2011/07/04/137526401/the-key-to-disaster-survival-friends-and-neighbors

  • I too have one of those folding wagons. My wife got it for me at a “big box” store for about $50.00 about fifteen years ago, when I was working trade shows for my employer. I looked at that thing and said “I’ll get about two shows out of this.” Fifteen years later, it’s STILL doing its job, even though it was MERCILESSLY overloaded when used at the trade shows. In fact, though I no longer work the trade shows, the wagon STILL goes to them with my coworkers!

    I recommend being a prepper when looking at the possibility of mobility issues no matter HOW young or old you are! Wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, and canes are ROUTINE yard and estate sale fodder, and go for PENNIES on the dollar. Having items like these on-hand will lessen the possibility of you losing your ability to live before or after the SHTF. Indeed, my wife sprained her ankle a while back. She’d bought a “HurryCane” at a yard sale for about $3.00 sometime before. There was no need to wait for a doctor to “prescribe” one of these things. My wife was able to maintain some semblance of mobility immediately after the injury. Think ahead, folks…

    • I saved my late husband’s cane, which came in handy for my sciatica.

      Also kept his crutches and bedside commode and urinal.

      Thrift stores are another good source for used medical equipment.

  • A few things that work for me are having a long grabber for things that either drop on the floor or are located high on a top shelf. I love my Hurrycane walking cane because when it falls on the ground you don’t have to bend over to pick it up. The base is made up of 3 sections so all you have to do is step on it and it pops right up to your hand. I bought a small cross body purse to keep my phone and flashlight with me at all times. After my surgery, I had a mini microwave and tiny frig in my bedroom so I didn’t have to hobble to the kitchen too often. Instead of the frig, you could use an ice chest and fill it with frozen water and fruit bottles and yogurt, frozen sandwiches, frozen meals in a bag, milk, etc. Now this next suggestion is a bit personal, but we’re among friends, right, so here goes. If you can’t make it to the bathroom, you can buy an Awoke portable, hand held urinal from Amazon and use it and then pour your urine into a large plastic bottle with a screw top so you don’t have to hobble to the bathroom every time you tinkle in a port a potty. There will be no urine odor in your room. Lastly, if you cannot drag your garbage can to the curb on trash pickup day, have your doctor write you a note or take a picture of your handicapped license and contact your garbage company and request a handicapped sticker for your can. That way you can keep your can in your driveway close to your door and that will help tremendously. Daisy, I love your column and good luck with your surgery. You’ll be in my prayers.

  • Good article and excellent comments. I now have a bad knees and a bad ankle. I commute to work by bus and carry a backpack. I sometimes don’t know when the knee or ankle might go out. I carry a foldable cane, knee brace and ankle brace in my backpack every day. It’s saved me more than once. I use a rolling office chair, at work and I have a sturdy, folding grocery cart. I’ve also redone my budget and can afford grocery delivery once a month. I order all the heavy stuff and more bulk stuff. I live up three flights of stairs and I tip extra to have them carry it all up.

    • Oops, I forgot one more thing. I bought a cloth wheeled cart that has special wheels on it that will climb stairs. There is no longer any need to lift your items up the stairs. The cart is light weight and does not take up much room.

      • I have one and it is a huge help!

        I also break heavy items down into manageable pieces.

        For example, I once bought a wire shelf unit that was too heavy to tote up 3 flights of stairs to my apartment, so I just opened the box and carried one piece up at a time.

        When I go to the feed store I have the feed sacks loaded into the back of my Highlander and when I get home I leave the feed sacks in the back of the car and empty a half sack into a 5 gallon pail, then tote the pail into the coop.

        Easier to tote 25 pounds at a time than 50.

        Also use a plastic sled to load heavy things on and slide them to the door or around the yard.

        I will also lift a 40 pound sack of water softener salt onto a low 10 inch stool and open a hole in the side of the sack to let the salt pour into a bucket, which I tote down to the basement where the water softener is.

        For gardening I have a hefty metal wagon with drop down sides to carry sacks of potting soil or plants and also a “tractor seat” on wheels to sit on while weeding.

        That 10 inch stool helps while getting stuff from low cupboards.

  • Due to arthritis, it’s very difficult for me to walk without a cane or a walker. In the kitchen, I use a rolling desk chair that our son was discarding, due to his cat shredding the leather/leather-like upholstery. With the aid of a staple gun, I re-covered the seat with a floral fabric; it’s very, very helpful and I use it in the kitchen all the time. Also, I use it in the living room when I vaccuum.

    My sister has a paved driveway and has a heavy duty rolling cart with3 shelves on it. She uses it to load groceries from the car and to transport laundry around in the house.

    My cane is very useful for reaching things and I’ve found it to be more helpful than my grab-it. When we were overseas and without a car, I used one of those granny carts to bring groceries home from the store. Word of warning, though: I ruined my rotator cuff lifting it up onto the bus.

  • I happen to have 3 different-sized easily rolled wagons. Two are mostly used in the garden. I have a small luggage cart that works well for smaller items and things in grocery bags. I have office chairs in several areas of the home. Yes, they are handy to roll around in. I have a tall slender rolling cart that was made for groceries or laundry. I’ve repurposed it for my fishing gear. It stays packed and ready to go with a crawdad trap at the top. But if I were hobbling the only way I could use it would be to pull it along while I sat on something I could roll in. I have another outside cart. It could have stake sides and I may build them for it one day. I used it to carry feed or grain sacks. I could pull it up to even with the truck tailgate and drop the 40 or 50 lb sacks onto the cart and pull it to the steps. I then walked a sack at a time, a step at a time, up 5 steps. My current residence has a ramp. I found a set of crutches in a closet.
    5 years ago I was a caretaker to a husband who was dying of Alzheimer’s and struggling to get around with a torn hamstring muscle in my left leg. In the home, I had a wheelchair But because of two old shoulder rotator cuff injuries, I couldn’t wheel myself in it. I had a transfer chair that rolls easier than an office chair and two different walkers. One very plain style and one with wheels and a seat with storage under the seat. They were both foldable. Later I gave away the wheelchair but the rest are stored here. I have a heavy cloth bag a friend made for me to use on a walker or the transfer chair. It is really handy to have a place to carry things. I have a wheelbarrow outside but a wagon or cart is still easier. I have 3 canes and several ski poles I use as walking sticks. Also a grab-it for high things. I have a 5-gallon bucket with toilet seat and top to close it. When my husband couldn’t walk but a few steps I set it by his bed. I’ve used it a few camping trips so it still looks like new. All you have to do is change the trash bag and carry out the old one.
    I chose PT instead of surgery. I walk a bit slower than before but no problems. The shoulders are good but not perfect. But I saved all the handicapped equipment, in case. I can hang 2 backpacks on the walker with wheels. One from the front and one from behind. I tested that while I was using it every day.
    At 77 I hope not to need any of it but I know it is possible.

  • For folks who can afford it, an electric golf cart can be a good way to get around a homestead or your neighborhood.
    Easier to get into or out of than an ATV.

    • I’d love to have a golf cart. We live in the country on a dead end road and there’s little traffic. However, we have a dedicated Karen living very near us who always calls the sheriff on anyone driving anything that’s considered “off-road” like 4-wheelers. Not hot-rodding; merely for being on the road. She said she has to pay taxes on her vehicles and everyone else should, too.

      • I grew up with one of those Karens living next-door. I feel you pain….

        Have you checked with your sheriff to see if you can “legalize” a golf cart? In California, golf carts can be registered for use on roads with 35MPH and lower speed limits in many counties. Yeah, you’ll have to register the thing, but it’ll force Karen back into her cave with her cats…

        • How did you know she has cats? Actually, I have more than she does.

          She really hates our adult son, who also lives on our property and has called the sheriff on him for having a fire in his fire pit. The deputies come out, talk with him, shake his hand and leave. It must really gall her because no one ever really gets in trouble or cited. When he got fed up with it, a former neighbor shot her vehicle with a paint ball gun as she drove by. She’s a very unhappy person.

          Thanks for the suggestion. I’d never thought of that. The speed limit on our road is 20 m.p.h.

    • I’m no longer able to walk to our back pasture. The pickup can make it but it’s wooded enough to make turning around difficult. Our mower is a zero-turn and sometimes I ride it up there, but it’s really hard for me to get on and off of it. The old John Deere riding mower was much easier for me to use. It’s not long til blackberry season and the wild plums after that. If we can get to them before the birds this year, I have plans for cobbler and jam. Hopefully we can get the J.D. running again soon.

    • I have an ANCIENT… U-U-UGLY… flatbed electric cart. I mean, that thing was OLD when I was YOUNG! ‘Made by Harley Davidson, believe it or not! I got it basically for the cost of the batteries in it, even though the seller had put new batteries, a new motor controller, and a new charger into it. We’re on an acre and have a barn at the far end of the property. This cart makes it EASY to move items from the deep larder to the house, or vice versa. It can also haul a garden cart or the water wagon I use to supplement irrigation for the fruit trees. I keep a set of basic gardening tools and gopher traps aboard as well. At our age, ANYTHING that makes work easier is worth what you can afford to spend!

      …Buy what you need before “they” tax the money out of your pocket!

    • I bought an old gas golf cart for $300. Worth every penny. I used to have an electric one. I used it getting around on three acres and for hauling stuff.

      • I plan to move the golf cart here to the new yo me place on 10 acres with a larger garden and a small orchard I’ve started. It has been sitting a while so may need a new battery and cleanup.

  • My neighbor gave me a stair climber shopping cart. This has triangular wheels set with three smaller ones, and I bless her every time I use it to get groceries and other stuff up the three flights of stairs to my apartment. They cost between $80-$125, but are definitely worth it.

    I also use reusable shopping totes to carry laundry. They’re less awkward than hampers and clean easily. You can also tie the handles together and roll the bag downstairs if it’s heavy (lol).

    Old plastic cat litter jugs are great for watering outside plants if you can lift them, because they don’t spill easily, but don’t overfill beyond your capabilities to lift. They get heavy quickly.

    My mother has a fabric shopping tote over the handle of her walker for carrying small items. This leaves her hands free.

    Pre-moistened bath wipes are a God-send as Mom can’t safely use the bathtub anymore. In a shtf situation, water would be at a premium, anyway. Shampoo caps or rinse free shampoo solution and a towel are also available and well worth having. Most are made in China, so stock up now and reseal the packets in plastic to help prevent their drying out. Baby wipes will do, and are somewhat cheaper, but are much thinner material and dry out quickly so you need to use more of them.
    Hope these ideas help.😊

  • I have a number of issues with various body parts, so depending on where I am, I use a cane, a walker, or a rollator. The rollator is a godsend at home, as it has a basket that holds laundry, moves groceries from the porch, etc., etc., etc.

    I now always use a small crossbody bag when going out, as I need my hands free for my mobility device (or to hang onto my husband if I have the cane and need some assistance).

    I cannot easily get into our relatively high 4 wheel drive truck, even with running boards. I have a little fold up stool that helps me get in by myself. Once I’m in, I can use my cane to grab it, then fold it down to slip in between the seat edge and the door. It’s so helpful! I am able to jump out, so I don’t have to put it back down the way I pick it up.

    I sleep alone in a king sized bed, and always put a heating bad under the bottom sheet to warm and soothe what hurts. I have one on each side of the bed. I sleep on one side for a week, then switch to the other side before laundering the sheets and repeating.

    When I travel, I am leery of getting into a high-wall, slippery tub to shower. I took a tub mat and cut off one end of it. I fold it up and take it along to make me much more stable in the tub. From the Dollar Tree store, I also have a set of 4 little plastic/rubbery circles that act as jar openers or coasters, but I use them in traveling as a smaller set of the tub mat described above (they dry more quickly that the bigger, thicker mat).

    I am excited to go check out a mobility device I saw advertised. It is motorized, but folds down small. In one configuration, it can roll along beside me (like a rolling suitcase, upright) and in another, it comes apart into two pieces which will fit into the overhead compartment! I love to travel, but my mobility issues have made this both difficult and painful. I have hopes for this new device!

    I appreciate all the great suggestions others have offered. Here’s my last thought: I have a number of canes, as I’ve been using one for nearly 20 years. My favorite one came from Walgreens, and has a nice soft grip handle for when my arthritic hands don’t want to use a cane. The gel in the grip and on the bottom cane tip are glow-in-the-dark, so I’m safe at night when hobbling along with my cane! Know that as you use a cane, the tip gets warn. You can buy replacement tips (and even a tip for using a cane on icy surfaces in the winter, if you dare!!) to keep your cane safe for your use.

  • We live in a single level house (by design) but one thing I did for my mother is to go out to Harbor Freight and buy a few furniture movers and put them permanently under some of the things she wants to be able to move, like the clothes hamper.

    A lot of good ideas here, thanks.

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