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Assistive Devices for Easier Living With RA


For the Bedroom

Most people with rheumatoid arthritis have joint stiffness in the morning. A few simple changes will make it easier to get going.

  • Switch to big buttons, button hooks, or Velcro closures. Buttons the size of a nickel or larger are easier to use. Closures in the front are better, especially for bras and dresses.
  • Use lamps that turn on and off by touch or by your voice. And replace small, hard-to-turn switches on lamps 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.

In Your Bathroom

Try these options:

  • A tub bench or shower seat lets you sit down while you get clean.
  • Non-skid shower mats make the tub safer.
  • Grab bars make it easier to get in and out of the bath.
  • A raised toilet seat with side rails makes it easier to get on and off.
  • Long-handled sponges help you 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.
  • Put a seat in front of your sink so you can avoid leaning forward. Do 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 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.

Also get a referral to an occupational therapist from your rheumatologist or your regular doctor if you haven't already. Occupational therapists specialize in helping people keep their independence. They may have other ideas for assistive devices or changes to your home that could make a huge difference.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on October 18, 2014
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