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Living With Rheumatoid Arthritis: Assistive Devices for Easier Living

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Assistive Devices for the Bedroom

Most people with rheumatoid arthritis have joint stiffness in the morning that can make just getting up and out the hardest part of the day. A few simple changes can help.

  • Switch to big buttons, button hooks, or Velcro closures. Buttons the size of a nickel or larger are easier to manipulate. Closures in the front are better, especially for bras and dresses.
  • Use lamps activated by touch or by your voice. And small, hard-to-turn switches on lamps can be replaced with larger grip-and-turn knobs.
  • Find sock aids and zipper pulls. A sock aid can help you pull up your socks without bending your legs. A zipper pull, which has a large rung that attaches to a zipper tag, makes zippers easier to grab and zip.

Assistive Devices for the Bathroom

Bathing and grooming with rheumatoid arthritis can be especially hard. Think about these options:

  • A tub bench or shower seat lets you bathe more comfortably and reduces the chance of falls. Nonskid shower mats will make the tub safer, too.
  • Grab bars make it easier to get in and out of the bath.
  • A raised toilet seat with side rails reduces the strain of getting on and off.
  • Long-handled sponges help you to wash your legs and feet without bending. Also, large sponges are easier to grip than washcloths.
  • Easy-to-pull shower curtains are better than heavy shower doors.
  • An electric toothbrush with a fat handle is easier than a regular toothbrush.
  • By putting a seat in front of your sink you can avoid leaning forward; the same with using a freestanding mirror for grooming.

These items and many more are available at full-service pharmacies and surgical supply stores. The Arthritis Foundation ((800) 283-7800) is also a great source. If you can't install something yourself, the store can often arrange it, or check with your local hardware store to see if they can recommend someone to do it for you.

If you haven't already, seek a referral to an occupational therapist from your rheumatologist or your regular doctor. Occupational therapists specialize in helping people keep their independence. They may have other ideas for assistive devices or home modifications that could make a world of difference.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on October 18, 2014
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