Eyeglasses, bottle openers, pliers -- we use dozens of assistive devices every day; without them there's a lot we couldn't do.
So when rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or another condition puts the brakes on what you do, why not expand your tool set to include a few helpful devices that make it easier to do the things you enjoy?
After a skiing injury 30 years ago, Bert Pepper, MD, got osteoarthritis in his left knee. "I stopped skiing and gave up tennis, running, and other sports that are tough on the knee," he says. "I turned to speed-walking to stay fit, but the knee kept me from walking at a good pace."
As his pain got worse and walking became harder, he looked into having a knee replacement. It's not a decision to make lightly, says Pepper, who is a psychiatrist. "It's a major life event. You have to be prepared to...
Arthritis is the most common cause of disability, says Patience H. White, MD, vice president of public health for the Arthritis Foundation, and with more than 100 types of arthritis, affecting 46 million people, that's not surprising.
Fortunately there are hundreds of tools that can help. But before you employ any assistive device, be sure to use your own strength and range-of-motion first, the better to preserve both. A few all-purpose self-help tools you can use anywhere in the house include:
Fat rubber grips slip over everything from a toothbrush handle to a pen or potato peeler, reducing pressure on your joints and making it easier to hold small items.
Doorknob adapters are lever handles that fit over standard round doorknobs; once installed you only need push the lever up or down to open a door
Lamp adapters. Screw a lamp adapter into a light bulb socket and it converts any metal lamp into a touch lamp with three brightnesses.
Leg extenders can lengthen the legs of your office chair, dining room table, kitchen island, or any piece of furniture that's too low to use comfortably.
Spring-loaded scissors can save your hands from fatigue from garden to office.
Key turners snap onto the heads of household keys, widening your gripping surface and making keys easier to turn.