This is the first in a series of Handicap Hack articles offering creative solutions to some of the unique problems faced by the handicapped and the elderly.
The last time I was crawling around my dad's floor with a flashlight in my mouth, searching for his lost hearing aids, I decided he needed a better container.
The cute little case his hearing aids came in require them to be nested perfectly in place in order to shut the case. Dad's 93, and doesn't have the eyesight nor the dexterity to do that. So he's been keeping the hearing aids in the flimsy plastic cup that came home with him from his last hospitalization. He drapes the right hearing aid over the top and places the left one inside so he can tell which is which. (Yes, as usual, the right hearing aid is marked with a red dot - Red for Right - but it's too small for him to see.) This makes the lightweight container top-heavy, and easy to tip over. When it falls, the tiny hearing aids, which happen to be exactly the same color as his carpet, go flying. And then he can't hear anything for a few days until I come visit and search for them. And hopefully he doesn't step on them in the meantime.
Once I spent hours looking unsuccessfully for one hearing aid that went AWOL while my daughter's new puppy was visiting. We finally decided the puppy must have eaten it. My daughter wasn't too happy about having to check every bit of puppy poop for a $1500 hearing aid! Not that the hearing aid would have worked upon its exit from the cute canine. But the VA wouldn't replace a lost hearing aid, they said they would only replace a damaged one.
Lucky for my daughter (and the audiologist at the VA!), I happened to find the hearing aid shortly after, in the crevice of the seat of the car, sans puppy poop.
So, avoiding hearing aid disappearances was the goal. After searching for possible container solutions that would fit my dad's needs, and coming up empty, I went to the art supply store. I'm an art educator, I should have known to try that first!
This little wood container works just fine, it's 3.5" wide x 6" long x 2" high. I glued colored felt inside (Red for Right, of course.)
What a great project this would be for Scouts or for church bazaars. It sure has made life easier for Dad! And making it (including buying the supplies) took less time than I spent trying to find something ready-made that would do the job.
Here are the instructions, in case you have a loved one who needs one:
STUFF YOU NEED:
(With my 30% off coupon, the felt, glue and box were under $5. I had the other supplies on hand at Dad's - including the antique wooden ruler that is older than I am!)
A little wooden box. This one is called a "Mini Display Box," it's like a tiny shadow box (with a knob on the end, it looks like a drawer for a mini cabinet.) I found it with all the little wooden items at Michael's. It's 3.5" x 6" x 2" high. It was already painted white when I found it (for $3.99 minus 30% off!) but if it had been raw wood I would have painted it white to prime it. (If you find a box with three wells, the third one can be used for hearing aid batteries or cleaning tools.) Be sure that the wells aren't too deep, so that the hearing aids can be retrieved comfortably.
Green and red felt. (39 cents each. I chose a lighter green rather than darker green, so the difference in colors would appear more pronounced in dim lighting.)
A marker such as a Sharpie or Flair pen.
Scissors which will cut felt.
Glue such as Aleen's Original Tacky Glue ( you need this type because it is thick and sticky, not like regular school glue, which is too runny. A mini bottle of this glue is about a buck.)
Brush (for smearing the glue around if you don't want to use your finger.)
Ruler or other measuring device.
1. Measure the inside dimensions of the two wells of your box.
2. Add 2 inches to each dimension. Using this larger dimension, draw a rectangle on your felt with the marking pen. (The marked lines are on the back, and will not show in the finished project.) Then measure an inch in from these lines on each side and draw four lines, as shown. Double-check the measurement of the inside rectangle to make sure it matches the size of the well. (Measure twice, cut once, like Bob Vila says!) Cut the rectangles out along the outside perimeter, as shown.
3. Then cut out the four corners. My cuts weren't too even due to the amazingly poor quality of the scissors, but the good news is that I don't need to worry about Dad cutting himself with them! Cutting these squares out generously (i.e. outside the drawn lines) allows for ease when the felt is adhered to the box.)
5. If your little box has a knob on it like this one, and if your hearing aid wearer is right-handed, position the knob on the right. Put glue in the bottom of the right hand well, use the brush to smear it around and up about 1 inch on the sides. (The glue will dry clear so don't worry about getting too much on the sides.)
6. With the marked side of the RED felt down, fold the sides in and place it into the bottom of the well on the RIGHT. Smooth it down to fit using fingers. Use the capped pen to flatten the felt, and nudge it neatly into the corners.
7. Repeat with the green piece of felt. Let dry before use.
OPTIONAL: I plan to get a piece of rubbery waffle shelf liner and trim it to size, then glue it to the bottom of this box to help keep it from sliding off the table. When I do, I'll take photos and update this post.
You can read about my Dad's miraculous WW2 adventure here: How a WW2 Twist of Fate Saved my Dad