When gadgets become life lines
I like gadgets. I love those magazines with all the coloured pictures of wonderful items that promise you the earth. If you are anything like me, you buy them, use them once and stick them in the back of a cupboard. But, when my friend was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, I started looking at gadgets in a new light.
Gadgets help her to carry on many activities she would otherwise find impossible, from cooking, to bathing, to walking, gardening and working in the office. Gadgets aren't a gimmick to her, they are a lifeline.
When you are living with any type of arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis in particular, certain movements with your hands and gripping is difficult, painful and sometimes simply impossible. Fortunately there are many arthritis aids to help, from ergometric cutlery to tipping teakettles to ergometric keyboards. Here I have tried to bring together some of the more common items that help arthritis sufferers around the home and garden.
Hands on Keyboard
Explaining Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis can affect anyone, there is no known cause, and no cure. It generally hits woman between the age of 30 and 50 and can be gradual or sudden in onset. It is characterised by stiff, swollen, painful joints and tendons, and may feel hot to touch. Often it starts in the writs, hands and feet but any joint in the body can be affected. It is extremely painful and gradually debilitating.
It is an inflammatory disease. Inflammation is usually the body's way of healing, but with rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system actually attacks the body instead of defending it.
The inflammation affects, the thin membrane that lines joints, the tendon sheaths in which tendons are contained and the bursae - those sacs of fluid surounding muscles and tendons.
Gripping things becomes painful and eventually, neigh impossible so imagine what it is like to try to cope with today's jars, bottles and packaging.
Bending, lifting your arms, walking, all become difficult.
In the kitchen
A lot of adaptation is needed in the kitchen for people suffering from arthritis. Gripping is difficult and painful, so ergonomic cutlery with big chunky easily held handles is essential. Fortunately there are many on the market, as with bottle and jar openers. There is even a small one you can carry round in your handbag, handy for opening those bottles of pop at the fair.
You can buy angled knives which make positioning of the hand with swollen joints much easier. They enable a more powerful grip and reduce pressure on the wrist.
Custom made pans with bent handles help to hold a heavy pan.
Scissors designed to absorb pressure while cutting also make life a bit easier.
Other helpful gadgets are easy open containers, kettle tippers, grippers, can-pull openers, vegetable slicers, electric can openers, or easy hold mugs.
Certain movements are difficult. One my friend struggles with most is using a kettle to make tea and coffee - that turn of the wrist is impossible for her. Luckily there is a rocking teakettle that rocks forward to fill a cup.
Enabler Key Turner for Arthritic Hands
Simple aids for arthritic hands
There are simple tasks the rest of us dont' think about like turning keys in a lock, pulling up a zip or fastenign buttons. Because you can't grip or hold anything so well, turning a key in lock can be a pretty painful business. Key turners like these are designed to attach to the key and provide an easier grip and extra leverage to take off the pressure needed to get through the door. There are different designs available for different key shapes and for how much help you need.
Tiny buttons and zippers are difficult to get hold of an to manipulate if your fingers are swollen so these simple aids can be a real bonus. You can use a button hook with a flexible handle that adapts to your grip, you slip the hook through the buttonhole, hook the button and pull it through. Zippers are manipulated by hooking onto the zip-pull and .... well .... pulling. You really won't believe how simple things like this make the world of difference to anyone who suffers from arthritis.
We've all used a finger in the back of a shoe to get it on, of course with arthritis that becomes impossible to say nothing about how hard it becomes to bend down that far. the answer is a long handles shoehorn like this which takes all the pain out of putting your shoes on.
Help with the chores
Arthritis Aids For Household Chores
If there was one thing my friend would recommend it would be a reach and grab - with it she can reach and grab anything anywhere from picking up something that has fallen on the floor or fetching something from a high shelf to picking up leaves in the garden.
Being able to grip tools, without pain, and well enough to accomplish a task, becomes problematic with ordinary handles. Fortunately there are several good products designed for ease of use and to ease pressure when they are used. It is all about finding tools with good grips, ergo designed handles and extended reach when possible or needed.
More to follow...
There are too many aids out there I haven't managed to cover so - keep an eye out for my next article on help with work when you are suffering from arthritis.
- Arthritis and Joint Conditions - About.com
Information about various types of arthritis, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options. Learn how to manage chronic pain and other aspects of arthritis.
- Rheumatoid arthritis : Arthritis Care
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in your joints. The main symptoms are joint pain and swelling. There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, but treatment to relieve the symptoms is effective