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Need a little help sometimes? Maybe you could use a hand when you get out of a chair, cook a meal, or write out a shopping list. You can make life with rheumatoid arthritis easier with a few gadgets that are easy on your wallet.

"People say that they don't want to use an assistive device because they don't want to feel dependent," says Jane McCabe, an occupational therapist and certified aging-in-place specialist in Laguna Hills, CA. "But these devices can make them more independent."

With the right ones, you'll have more freedom to do what you want with less pain. Most of these eight helpful tools cost less than $20. You can even make some on your own with supplies at home.

1. Reacher

It’s hard to reach up high when you have pain in your shoulders. And bending over hurts if you have pain in your hips.

The solution: a reacher. The simplest type is a stick with a hook at the end, also called a "dressing stick." Many others have clamps at the end that you control with a trigger. You can use them to grab a can from a high shelf or pick up keys that have fallen on the floor.

Some can be hard to use if you have pain in your fingers, says Lenore Frost, PhD, a clinical assistant professor of occupational therapy at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT. Look for reachers that don't put too much stress on painful finger joints.

2. Doorknob Covers

Opening doors is painful or tricky for many people with RA. The problem is the combined holding and turning motion.

Doorknob covers slip over knobs to make them bigger and easier to grip. Or you could change knobs to handles, although that costs more.

3. Wide-Handled Spatula

Is it hard to grasp and hold kitchen tools? Get a spatula and other kitchen gear with wider, easy-grip handles. Most kitchen stores carry them.

You can also make your own. "Just duct-tape a washcloth around the utensils you already have," says Victoria Ruffing, RN, program manager at the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center in Baltimore. You can also buy cheap pipe insulation online or at hardware stores to cover handles.

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