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Devices for Living Easier with Arthritis

From the kitchen to the bedroom, here is WebMD's room-by-room guide to easier living with arthritis.
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WebMD Feature

While the use of painkillers tends to grab most of the headlines when it comes to coping with arthritis, the use of assistive devices also plays an important role. These simple devices can improve your ability to walk, bathe, cook, clean, and get dressed with relative ease.

"Think of arthritis as both pain and the loss of joint function. Both are incapacitating," explains John Klippel, MD, president and CEO of the Arthritis Foundation in Atlanta." One of the approaches to pain is drugs. But by and large, the approach to functional loss involves the use of assistive devices."

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Where do you begin, and what can help you the most? Check out this room-by-room guide to learn exactly how and where assistive devices can help you with the activities of daily living.

Your Kitchen/Dining Room

There are many useful aids and strategies that can help make cooking and eating easier for people with arthritis.

For example, "utensils are often small and difficult to grip for people with arthritis in their hands," Klippel says. But choosing utensils with wide-grip foam handles can make a big difference. "The handles are bigger so people can grip them," he says. Other devices that ease life in the kitchen include:

  • A reach extender. This rod with trigger-controlled grasp at the far end allows people to reach 26 to 30 inches and pick up small objects -- say a can of soup in an otherwise out-of-reach cupboard.
  • A jar opener. Once you get that jar down, open it with an automatic jar opener that clamps down on jars of any size and twists off the caps.
  • Door levers. Replace door and faucet knobs with levers so you don't have to grip and twist door knobs.
  • Chair extenders. Extenders on chair legs can elevate the seat at the kitchen or dining room table to the height at which it's easiest for you to sit. Stools, carts, or trash cans on wheels can also help.

Kitchen setup is also key. Rearrange your cupboards and drawers so you have quick and easy access to the items you use most often. This will help reduce the need for painful stretching. Raise the level of electrical appliances, including microwaves, food processors, and bread makers to a comfortable height to help relieve undue pressure on your hips and knees.

And be sure to look for the Arthritis Foundation "Ease-of-Use Commendation Logo" the next time you are in the grocery store. This seal signifies user-friendly products and packaging. The Folgers AromaSeal™ Canister, for one, has an easy-to-hold handle and a foil seal that peals away so no can opener is necessary. For a complete list of all such products, visit http://www.arthritis.org/resources/sponsors/Ease_of_Use/eou_complete_list.asp.

You can buy many assistive devices online. Just search for the name of the product you want. Or contact your local Arthritis Foundation chapter to find local stores that sell these products.

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