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Self-help assistive device can help patients with arthritis live an easier life. This article outlines the 6 ways that you can use self-help assistive devices to make your life easier if you have arthritis.

Arthritis is a condition characterized by joint pain, inflammation and swelling. While there is no cure for arthritis, there are treatments that can help relieve pain and improve joint functionality. Additionally, there are self-help devices that can make your life easier by:

  • Making tasks easier on your joints
  • Keeping your joints in the best position for functioning
  • Helping provide leverage
  • Extending the flexibility of your joint

The first step to obtaining these devices is to understand when and where you need help. Then, you will be able to identify products that can help you for the situations in which you need help. Often, it is helpful to think of the devices you might need in terms of the rooms of your house where you need the most help. These devices can help you cook, clean, get dressed, bathe, and move around a lot easier.

1. Devices that can help arthritis patients in the bedroom

  • For when you are getting dressed in the morning, using zipper pulls can help you fasten up your clothing. If available, you can try to wear your clothes with Velcro fasteners.
  • A shoehorn that extends all the way to the ground can help you reach your shoes without bending.
  • Replace the small switches and doorknobs with large knobs that are easier to grip or levers that you don’t need to turn, which can make this simple activity a lot easier.
  • Lamps that switch on and off by touch or voice activation can limit the movement you need to do with your hands.
  • Sock aids can help pull up your socks without having to bend.

2. Self-help devices that you can use in the kitchen

  • Regular kitchen appliances like electric can openers, food processors and mandolins can make kitchen work less of a struggle.
  • Reachers, which are long tools that have a gripping mechanism, can be used for items that are stored at high or low locations.
  • Built-in handles and easy-grips utensils can make utensils easier to hold and use.
  • Fixed jar openers can help open jars.
  • Chairs can be fitted with extenders to make the height difference less.
  • Pots and pans with handles on both sides can make holding them easier.

3. Self-help devices that you can use in the bathroom

  • Installing tub bars and handrails can help keep you stable and secure when you are showering. These are particularly important if your balance is impaired.
  • If your grip is too weak to turn the faucet or the tap, then you can install faucet levers or tap turners.
  • Raised toilet seats make it easier for patients to get up or sit down on the toilet.
  • Sponges with long handles help you wash your legs and feet without having to bend. Furthermore, large sponges are easier to hold on to.
  • Curtains in the shower that are easy-to-pull are better than heavy shower doors.
  • Electric toothbrushes are easier to hold onto than a regular toothbrush.
  • Putting a seat in front of the sink can stop you from leaning forward, which is easier on your joints.

4. What self-help devices can arthritis patients use at work?

  • Chairs with adjustable-height can make it easier to get up and sit down.
  • Work-surfaces with adjustable heights can make it easier to work at a height at which you are comfortable.
  • Telephones with large push buttons make it easier to dial.
  • Hands-free headsets make it easier to talk to people for a long period of time so your hand doesn’t have to hold up the phone the entire time.

5. Leisure activity matters too: What assistive devices will help you enjoy your free time?

  • Kneelers and light-weight hoses can be used for gardening.
  • “No-hands” frames can help with quilting or embroidery.
  • Card holders can be used for playing card games.
  • A cane or a crutch — correctly used not on the same side as an arthritic knee or hip, but rather on the other side — allows for less laborious walking, enabling you to enjoy walks outside.
  • Orthotics can help make it easier to walk. Therefore, they can help you do leisurely and fun activities such as going for a walk. Inserts can also be worn in the shoe or orthopedic shoes can also help you feel more comfortable when walking.
  • Braces and splints help support joints and lessen the strain on the joints.

6. Cars: When you are driving, you can use these devices

  • Wide key holder can make it easier to turn ignition
  • A gas opener can help fill the tank at gas station

These items are mostly available at grocery and drug stores. For more specialized items, you can ask your doctor, occupational therapist and physical therapist for recommendations. If you need help installing a new device, you can ask the hardware store if they can send someone to help you do it. These little self-help devices can really help make your life with arthritis much easier.

  • Nordenskiöld, Ulla. "Daily activities in women with rheumatoid arthritis. Aspects of patient education, assistive devices and methods for disability and impairment assessment." Scandinavian journal of rehabilitation medicine. Supplement 37 (1997): 1-72.
  • Tuntland, Hanne, et al. "Assistive technology for rheumatoid arthritis." Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 4 (2009).
  • Põlluste, Kaja, et al. "Assistive devices, home adjustments and external help in rheumatoid arthritis." Disability and rehabilitation 34.10 (2012): 839-845.
  • Photo courtesy of SteadyHealth

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