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Rheumatoid arthritis doesn't have to change your "to do" list. Make some simple fixes to make it easier to get things done.

Streamline Your Approach

  • Have a plan. When you have RA, you may have less energy. So it helps to be well organized. If you want to get things done tomorrow, plan how you will do it now. Keep your goals realistic and don't forget to build in breaks.
  • Save your energy. What slows you down? Putting on your shoes? Getting ready in the morning? Once you know the things that get you stuck, you can come up with ways to make them easier.
  • Divide up the day. Spend 30 minutes on a task, then do something else. Focusing too much on one thing could leave you feeling achy and fatigued afterward. If you switch things up, you'll get more done.
  • Pace yourself -- especially on good days. Some days, you may wake up feeling like you can do anything. But squeezing in too much can backfire. If you overdo it -- going on a hike or gardening all afternoon -- your fatigue the next day could set you back. Try doing a high-energy task or two in the morning, take a nap at lunchtime, and do lighter work in the afternoon.

Easy Cooking

  • Use a stool. Don't stand while you cook -- sit and rest. You can wash dishes from a stool, too.
  • Cook simpler dishes. Stick with easy recipes, especially after work. Use shortcuts like precut vegetables. Save dishes with lots of steps for weekends or nights when a family member can help. Or split up the cooking over two days.
  • Get new kitchenware. The right kitchen tools will speed up dinner prep and spare your joints. Think about buying some lightweight pots and pans and spoons and spatulas with thick, easy-to-grip handles.

Bathing and Dressing

  • Go gadget shopping. Think about what's hard or painful in the bathroom and pick up a few aids to help out. Is it hard to squeeze out toothpaste? Look for an automatic dispenser. Do you have hip pain? A raised toilet seat can be much more comfortable. Wide-handled toothbrushes and hairbrushes, grab bars, and soap in pump bottles can make life easier. An occupational therapist can help you with the tasks of daily life.
  • Use a shower chair. Even if you don't really need one, a shower chair can help you relax in the shower without putting more stress on your joints. A showerhead that you can adjust or hold in your hand can help, too.
  • Change your wardrobe. Make getting dressed smoother by choosing clothes that are easier to put on or adapt the clothes you already have. Bigger buttons, Velcro fasteners, elastic shoelaces, and rings for zipper pulls can make it faster to dress. So can tools like a long-handled shoehorn.

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