Using Assistive Equipment/Assistive Devices

Damaged joints can make it difficult to perform the usual tasks of daily living. Painful joints, weak muscles, limited range of motion, and joint deformity can make the simplest of tasks a challenge for people with arthritis. You have to adjust and adapt to your physical limitations. A variety of assistive/adaptive equipment is available to help you make necessary adjustments and protect your joints as well. Adaptive equipment is designed to reduce stress and strain on your joints. Determine what tasks you need help with and what is most problematic for you. Make a list and then begin to problem solve.

Housecleaning

Many people who are not limited by arthritis view housecleaning as drudgery. If you can't easily reach, bend, or scrub, it's even worse drudgery. There are myriad ergonomic cleaning tools available. Long-handled mops, long-handled shower scrubbers, long-handled ceiling fan dusters, and long-handled light bulb changers help compensate for limited range of motion. Self-propelled vacuum cleaners help preserve energy. Cleaning tools that are easy to grip and have extended handles are not only more convenient, they are less strenuous on your joints.

If you are still unable to complete certain tasks after trying various assistive devices, you may need to look for outside help, such as a housekeeper or handyman. First, try to get referrals from people you know. If that turns out to be a dead end, check out Angie's List at www.angieslist.com.

Kitchen Work

Look for kitchen equipment that is easy for you to use. There are hands-free can openers, automatic jar openers, electric potato peelers, and stand mixers available. You also need baking pans with secure handles and a set of nonstick cookware. Make sure your dishes are lightweight.

Organize your kitchen shelves to suit your needs. Frequently used items shouldn't be stored in hard-to-reach places. Everything in your kitchen should be convenient and easily accessible.

Prepare extra when you cook so you will have leftovers or meals you can freeze for a later time. On days you don't feel like cooking, you will appreciate a good meal waiting for you in the freezer.

Grocery Shopping

Tackling a long grocery list may feel like a workout. Besides a lot of walking, it takes some endurance to load items into the cart, unload at the cash register, load into your car, and unload again at home. Consider your alternatives. Smaller but more frequent shopping trips may be one solution.

Another alternative is to check and see if your area has grocery delivery available. Some larger grocery chains offer online shopping, where you select your groceries and the time and day you want it delivered. If this is available to you, give it a try!

Laundry

Rolling laundry carts eliminate the stress and strain of lifting heavy laundry baskets. Smaller, more manageable loads may be an adaptation you need to consider also. Long-handled reacher aids can help you reach the back or bottom of your washer and dryer. Setting up a table near your washer and dryer can help with laundry sorting or folding.

Driving

From small items to major modifications, cars and vans can be adapted to your needs. Specially designed key fobs for people with disabilities allow a better grip and more stability when turning the key to start the ignition. Gas cap wrenches are available which add leverage needed to open the gas cap easily. If getting into or out of the car is a problem for you, a six-way power seat is an option on some vehicles (adjusts the seat up and down, adjusts the angle of the back of the seat, and the seat moves closer to or farther from the steering wheel). Some car manufacturers may offer rebates to help modify your car to make it more accessible or install more power features.

There are many catalogs available online which offer assistive devices and adaptive equipment. Not only gadgets, but supports and mobility equipment such as canes, crutches, wheelchairs, and scooters are available. Search Google for “arthritis aids catalogs.”

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