Aug 2, 2019

Life Hacks to Help Cope with Your Arthritis

If you have arthritis, chores, errands, and other everyday tasks are no simple feats. It isn’t always easy to complete your to-do list with the pain and fatigue, and coping with arthritis means you may need more time to get tasks done. But that’s ok! You can’t do it all at once, so consistent breaks and some outside help is important. You will also need an extensive arsenal of life hacks to get you through the day. These shortcuts, tools and tricks can help you get things done with less pain and stress. You’ll ease the strain on your joints, conserve energy, and stay organized.

Ask for help.

Keep in mind it’s ok to ask for help. It’s good to stay active and independent, but some tasks may be too much. Enlist neighbors to drive you to the store or help with some yard work. Ask your nurse or a social worker if services in your area can help with some of the tasks that put a lot of stress on your joints. Let friends help you organize your home or move items so they’re easier for you to reach. If you have the extra cash, hire someone to do a deep clean or a professional organizer to help make your home work better for you.

Utilize arthritis-friendly tools.

New ergonomic gadgets are everywhere and can solve many common dilemmas for those with arthritis. Look for products that are simple and practical, rather than fancy gadgets with intricate pieces. From kitchen tools to gardening accessories, or exercise equipment, there is always something new out there to make your life easier.

For your kitchen

  • Stop digging around in your cluttered cabinets. Use magnetized nesting spoons and cups. Stick them to any metal surface for quick and easy accessibility.
  • Electric jar and can openers are great for anyone, but they are a must-have for people with arthritis. Electric openers are affordable and will keep your hands free from aches and pains.
  • Using a hand beater will make your arthritis symptoms worse, so invest in a standing mixer with assistive attachments. Not only will standing mixers help with arthritis-related discomfort, but all those attachments can be lifesavers as well.
  • One-handed cutting boards are perfect, as they hold food while you’re cutting, meaning you will only need one hand to complete prep.

For hobbies

  • A lightweight gardening tool set is essential for the outdoor lover. Choose a set that is made with strong, yet ergonomic materials.
  • Squeezing and holding a hose can be difficult for those with arthritis. A front-squeeze hose nozzle is easier on the hands, and the locking mechanism on this wand can be activated with one hand.
  • Wrist guards, thumb slings, knee wraps, and elbow sleeves are all great ideas for the active arthritis sufferer that doesn’t want to slow down. Specialized slings and wraps are made to support bones, muscles and tendons.
  • The Bookmate makes reading easier and more enjoyable. The innovative design holds books open and flat, leaving your hands free to just rest.

For everyday life

  • A seat belt reacher easily attaches to your existing seat belt strap and extends out to bring the belt within easy reach, making buckling up a breeze.
  • Bending down or reaching up for items can be difficult when you’re stiff and sore. EZ reachers are lightweight, portable tools that allow arthritis sufferers to comfortably retrieve out-of-reach items.
  • Eliminate the struggle to get up and out of your chair with the Upeasy Lifting Cushion. The hydraulic design gives you the boost you need to get on your feet from any hard surface or chair.
  • Cut down on multiple trips to the car and prevent heavy shopping bags from causing wrist pain with the EZ Carry, which allows you to carry up to 50 pounds and multiple bags at once.

Use correct body mechanics

Change the way you use your joints so you don’t put as much stress on them, which results in less pain and fewer injuries. Set your feet slightly apart when you stand, or place one foot slightly in front of the other to help you balance. If you have to stand up for a while, lean against a wall or chair to take the load off your body. When you’re at work, place a rolled pillow or towel under the small of your back while you sit at your desk. If you are relaxing at home, use a footrest or low box to keep your hips, knees and ankles bent at a 90-degree angle. If you’re lifting, be smart and use your legs instead of your back. Or better yet, just ask for help!

Other essential life hacks

In the kitchen

  • Use paper plates when possible so you can avoid doing the dishes.
  • Prep as much as much as you can.
  • Store spices and other ingredients in easily opened containers.
  • Use that crockpot!
  • Put anything you use daily on low shelves.
  • Use pre-cut parchment paper to line your baking dishes. It makes cleanup so much easier and it enhances most recipes.

For cleaning

  • Put organized cleaning supply bins in different areas of the house, or use a small portable cart.
  • Use furniture sliders.
  • Research the new robotic vacuums, and avoid vacuuming when possible.
  • Use an old sock for dusting instead of gripping a rag.
  • To take pressure off when loading and unloading the washer and dryer, use a stool to either sit on for front-loading washers, or to stand on for top-loading models.
  • Avoid ironing entirely by choosing wrinkle-free fabrics, using wrinkle-free sprays, or by removing items promptly from the dryer.

For pain management

  • Find a thick winter sock, fill it with rice and tie it at the top. Heat it in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. It’s easily pliable and perfect for placing around the neck, legs, arms, or lower back.
  • Make your own ice pack with a freezer bag and alcohol.
  • Invest in electric self-care aides such as an electric toothbrush, an electric razor, a shower chair, or removable showerhead.
  • Put a heating pad or throw blanket in every room you typically relax in. This avoids using excess energy to carry around the throw in winter, and saves your back from bending to unplug/plug it in when you go from one room to another.

For everyday life

  • Your cell phone speaker button is a lifesaver (and your neck will thank you, too!).
  • Take advantage of voice recognition on all of your electronic devices.
  • A rubber band, string, or a key ring on a zipper can help with getting dressed. Keep shirts buttoned while washing or folding to save time with annoying buttons or snaps.
  • Use a robe when you come out of the shower. You won’t have to use your arms and hands to dry yourself, plus you will feel like you’re at a luxurious spa!

While life hacks won’t cure you, they can make it easier for you to get through your day and cope with your disease. For more tips on living with arthritis, keep following Carolina Arthritis, and if you have any ingenious life hacks of your own, let us know on our Facebook page!