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Assistive Devices for RA

Assistive Devices for Shopping

  • Reachers. Take your reacher with you to help retrieve items from high shelves at the store. For heavy or breakable items, however, ask a store employee or another shopper for help.
  • Motorized shopping carts. Many stores have motorized carts that allow you to sit while you shop. If the store doesn't have them, use a shopping cart -- even if you only need a few items -- to spare your hands and energy and to give you something to lean on.
  • Shopping bags. Reusable shopping bags are not only easier on the environment, they can be easier on painful hands and wrists than plastic grocery bags. Have the bagger fill them halfway. To carry the bags, slide them over your forearms so you don't need to grip the bags. Cross your arms and hold them close to your body to reduce stress on shoulder and elbows.

Tip: Buying things online eliminates the need to park your car, make your way through crowded stores, or carry heavy packages. Another plus: If you shop for gifts online, you can have them sent directly to the recipient, eliminating the hassle of wrapping and shipping.

Assistive Devices for Your Car

Whether it's getting in or and out of the car or spending time in the driver's seat, driving can literally be a pain. The following assistive devices can make car travel a little easier:

  • Key holder.  A wide key holder can make it easier to open your car and turn on the ignition. If you're buying a new car, look for one with keyless entry and ignition.
  • Beaded seat cover.  Available in some automotive as well as medical supply stores, beaded seat covers make it easy to get in and out of your seat and make car rides more comfortable.
  • Panoramic or wide-angle rear and side-view mirrors. If a painful, stiff neck makes it hard to turn your head, these easy-to-install mirrors can widen your view.
  • Seatbelt extender. This device attaches to your existing seat belt and makes the seatbelt easier to grasp, pull, and buckle when you have RA. 

Tip: If you're shopping for a new car, look for features that will make driving easier and more comfortable with arthritis. Some to consider: leather seats, which are easier to slide in and out of than upholstered seats; power window and seat controls; heated seats, which can soothe sore hips and lower backs; running boards, which make it easier to climb in and out; and larger, easier-to-grip steering wheels.

RA and Leisure Activities

With a little effort and ingenuity, you can find or modify products that can help you maintain your favorite hobbies and activities. Assistive devices such as these can help:

  • Kneelers and lightweight hoses for gardening
  • Book stands for hands-free reading
  • Large, easy-to-hold playing cards and electric shufflers for card games
  • Equipment such as automated ball teeing devices and ball retrieval aids for golf
  • Light-weight spring-operated scissors for crafts
  • Automatic needle threaders for needle work

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on May 23, 2014

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