Love Letter to the Grabber

BeRightThere
“What the heck is this?” I asked my mother who was holding up an odd contraption with a handle on one side of a stick and two prongs on the other. It looked like something my father would have created in the garage when he was bored.

“Watch,” she said, smiling, as she extended the odd gadget in front of her, reached across the coffee table, and lifted the notebook I had in my lap. She brought it to her own hand and held it up. “See?” She proclaimed victorious, “I can grab what I need without having to get up!”

“Uh huh,” I said, “so you use it to steal things?”

“No, of course not. I use it around the house. It’s really handy.”

I left it at that and basically forgot about this grabby tool thing (other common aliases: reachers, graspers). Then, I moved into my parent’s apartment when they moved into an independent living community. And I fell in love. I love my grabbers. Yes, plural. I have grabbers in every room of the house. And I don’t know how I ever survived without one!

Here’s a list of the many ways the grabber has come in handy. Let’s consider it a love letter to one of my favorite, household tools.

  • You know those times when you drop something behind a piece of furniture? Instead of having to move the furniture, you can grab and retrieve it.

  • That stack of items in the drawer that always seems to multiply to the point where something falls out the back of the drawer into the void behind or under the last drawer? We’ve all been there. Usually you wait until spring cleaning to pull out the drawers and remove whatever mystery items fell back there–“Oh, that’s where that went!” Now I use the grabber and don’t have to contort my body in weird ways or lift out drawers to retrieve the wayward items.

  • The items that you store in the back of the high cabinet, garage shelf, bathroom medicine cabinet, or pantry shelf in the kitchen–extra cans of condensed milk, soup stock, shampoo, the secret chips or cookies you don’t want anyone to find, etc.? With a grabber, you can fetch them from the shelf without having to get the handyman’s ladder.

  • Those things that waft and roll–think tissues, toothbrushes, medicine bottle lids, and the backings from adhesive bandages–into crevices and oddly configured places, like behind the toilet or under the sink, that usually require knee pads and pretty much guarantee a crick in the neck after reaching with your arm while your head has to turn the other way just trying to reach it. You know by now, just grab it!

  • When the sock falls behind the dryer or washing machine, or in that small crack between the machine and the side wall–boom. The grabber pulls it right out. No more fuzz ball growing in the laundry room.

  • And when you’re feeling a bit lazy…the remote from the TV falls off the coffee table? Just grab it without having to unravel out of your comfy blanket! Want a snack without moving, bring the cup or bowl right to you with the grabber!

  • Dog wants a belly rub? Use the grabber!

  • Your back is bothering you, and you need to pull on a sock? Grab it.

  • A cord squeezed between the wall and a piece of furniture and you need to lift it out? Grab it.

  • A book you love or album of family photos on a high shelf that you want to share? Grab it.

  • The guest linens are in a bag on the top or bottom shelf of the linen closet, and company is coming? Grab it.


Some people might say that having a roommate, a child, or a spouse to grab these things for you negates the need for such a gadget. But, isn’t it nice to be independent? To know you could reach what you need without waiting for someone else?

And while I may be waxing poetic about my love for grabbers–and perhaps I use them for things they were never invented to do–I do know, as someone who works with a lot of caregivers, I hear stories all the time about people falling, fracturing their bones or worse because they leaned over to pick-up something that fell on the floor. If having grabbers around can help any of us avoid that situation, think of all the extra years of being healthy and independent people can have!

I’d love to hear your stories of how a grabber saved the day, so please share them in the comments below.

Fern Pessin is the author of “I’ll Be Right There: A Guidebook for Adults Caring for their Aging Parents.” She also blogs about her caregiving experience and shares caregiving resources on I’ll Be Right There.

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