Products and ideas to help make living with Arthritis a little easier...
Living with arthritis can present a wide array of challenges. Some of these challenges may be temporary, following surgery or during periods of flare-ups. Some of these challenges may be life long. Arthritis can create problems with mobility, range of motion, fine motor skills, and cause pain and fatigue that may affect the performance of daily tasks. While surgery, physical therapy and pain management may help some people with some of these issues, for the most part there is no way to remove the cause of the difficulty. Therefore, it is important for the person with arthritis to find solutions to some of these basic problems, and fortunately there are many products available that can help.
Assistive devices are nothing new. They are used by the elderly, by people of all ages with arthritis, by joint-replacement patients during recovery. According to The New York Arthritis Reporter, "These tools are not only helpful to get a certain job done, they are also essential to preserving the integrity of joints already compromised... Another advantage they offer is the ability to maintain the user's independence in performing everyday activities, from personal hygiene to household chores and work-related duties." Some of these devices can be very beneficial to arthritic patients.
DRESSING AND GROOMING
Challenges: A person may have trouble putting on shoes or socks, or cutting toe nails because of short or bowed forearms, or because hip or leg arthritis make bending difficult. A person with limited range of motion in shoulders may have difficulty brushing or blow drying hair. Arthritis in fingers and hands can affect one's ability to button or tie.
Solutions: There are many assistive devices available to help with these difficulties. There are several varieties of a Sock Aids available for those who either cannot reach their feet or who have weak grasps. There is also a Compression Stocking Aid available. Extra long shoehorns eliminate the need to bend over when putting on shoes and a shoe remover is available to help take off shoes, also without bending over. For those who have difficulty tying shoes, slip on shoes are wonderful, but if you want to wear shoes that tie, shoelaces, such as Coilers, are available with coils that never need tying, or there are deluxe Elastic Shoelaces, that allow shoes to be slipped on and off without tying and untying. DressEZ makes a combination Long Handle Shoehorn and Dressing Aid. For those who have trouble reaching, Dressing Sticks are available, and for those who have trouble with their hands, Zip Grip snaps onto zippers to extend pull tabs, and Good Grips makes a Button Hook Aid to help with hard to grasp buttons.
Long handle toenail scissors help those with limited reach. There are also Long Handle Brushes and Combs, Long Handle Back Scrubbers and Sponges to help those with limited shoulder ROM. Nail Clipper Boards and Nail Brushes are available on bases with suction cups to attach to a sink, making their use much easier for those with hand problems. A Hairdryer Holder makes styling hair easier. Also important are items that address safety concerns, such as bathtub safety rails, bath or shower benches/seats, and grab bars.
Challenges: Mobility issues can fall into two categories: dealing with mobility problems following surgery, and dealing with problems caused by arthritis, chronic pain and/or fatigue, or limb length discrepancies, including inability to walk for long distances or stand for long periods.
Solutions: For postoperative patients, there are different solutions available depending upon the type of surgery and the patient's ability (or inability) to walk. For some, a wheelchair will be necessary, while others may use walkers or crutches while they are non-weight bearing or partial weight bearing. It is a good idea to have a preoperative physical therapy session to get familiar with the type of Mobility Aids you will be using following surgery.
For those suffering with chronic and severe fatigue and/or pain, wheelchairs may be necessary where prolonged periods of walking or standing will be taking place. For many, canes can provide sufficient support during mobility. There are many different types of canes which provide specific solutions. Walking Cane Seats are available, designed for people who require either walking or resting assistance.
COOKING, CLEANING, AND EVERYDAY CHORES
Challenges: The combination of pain and fatigue, inability to bend down or reach up, weakness or pain in hands or wrists, can make cooking and cleaning difficult.
Solutions: Good Grips makes a wide selection of products that are easy on the hands, from an ergonomic, natural grip bread knife Bread Knife to Bottle and Can Openers, vegetable peelers, and Scissors. Cutting Boards, vegetable peelers, Pan Holders, and a Spreadboard, bread holder are available to allow for one-handed use without danger of things sliding away from you while you're cutting, stirring or making sandwiches. There are many different options for opening jars, from the Under Cabinet Openers, and there is the Easi Opener to help with pull tabs.
Just as there are products to help with grooming, there are products to help people having difficulty bending to clean their homes. Grabbers are an extremely helpful tool for picking things up off the floor or reaching things high up on shelves. There are several brands available.
Other aspects of day-to-day life can be problematic when arthritis affects fingers and hands. Products such as grips for keys and for turning small handles, as well as handle door knob adaptors can help.
Challenges: Pain and fatigue, difficulty bending and kneeling, reaching, and difficulty using regular gardening tools due to hand pain, mobility and rotation.
Solutions: Ergonomically designed Garden Tools can help prevent hand and wrist injury, available with regular and long handles. Special rakes, shovels, pruners, hoes and other tools are all available. There is also an arm support with add-on handles that allows you to use regular tools and appliances with greater ease.
Challenges: Arthritis in the hip, pelvis and femur can affect ability to sit comfortably. Hard surfaces can put pressure on arthritis, causing pain. It can be difficult, if not impossible, to get down and sit on the floor, and difficult to get back up.
Solutions: There are several cushions on the market which can make sitting much more comfortable. Not only do these Cushions relieve pressure on arthritis, but they also address fidgeting and fatigue issues. These cushions can be used on the floor as well as on chairs. If you need help getting up from your couch, there is a Couch Cane to provide a boost.
Challenges: Difficulty getting in and out of the car or to open the gas cap.
Solutions: There is a Swivel Seat to help you sit and swivel your legs into and out of a car, and there are Hand Bars that are secured to the frame of the car door that offer stability when getting in and out of a car. A Gas Cap Wrench can be used to help open the gas cap.
Challenges: As with sitting, lying down puts painful pressure on limbs. For many with arthritis, a good night's sleep is impossible. It can also be difficult getting out of bed.
Solutions: Fortunately, there are Akton Polymer Mattress Overlays that offer some relief. Body Pillows are also available for lumbar support, and gel wraps with cotton covers for pain relief and neck support. For anyone who has difficulty getting out of bed, there are various types of Bed Pull Ups, Bed Canes, and handle systems to help make getting up easier. There is also a Leg Lifter to help raise or lower legs without bending over.
Challenges: Hand and wrist pain makes writing painful and difficult.
Solutions: For those who have an extremely difficult time keyboarding. The Type Aid, is available. For those who have pain when writing, there are many Arthritis Writing Pens and Pencils now available on the market designed to be more comfortable to hold. There are also Pen and Pencil Grips available to use with regular pens and pencils. There are many products including Joint Supports and Braces and Microwavable Moist Heat Packs that can help during painful flare-ups.
There are many other products, too numerous to list here, that make life for those with arthritis and other musculoskeletal diseases easier and more productive.
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