There are some great products available that really make a difference when your hands are weak or in pain. Many people wonder if adaptive devices can really make a difference and if so which ones will help the most. Here are the answers to these questions and a few suggestions for everyday household tools that make living with arthritis easier.
Q. Can “adaptive devices” really make my arthritic hands feel better?
Yes and no. Adaptive or Assistive Devices, can help reduce pain if they reduce the amount of force you use when opening jars, hold a pen or comb your hair. Assistive equipment will not cure your arthritis but can help lessen the progression and make doing daily activities less painful and less stressful on your joints.
Q. Which equipment works the best for people with arthritis?
As a practicing occupational therapist I spent a good deal of time choosing the most appropriate equipment for my patients and showing them how to use it. In general, the equipment I liked the best was usually the simplest and often things you already have in your home.
The more “stuff” you have, the less you will tend to use so I like to keep it simple and to a minimum.
So here goes my list of the Top 5 Adaptive Devices for Arthritis:
- Self-Opening Loop Scissors – With looped scissors you do not need to try fitting sore or enlarged fingers in two small handle holes. The self-opening scissors require about 1/2 the amount of strength to open than do regular scissors. Mine stay in my kitchen utensil organizer so they are readily at hand. They won’t cut a chicken but they are great at cutting coupons, any paper, tape or string.
- A Damp Towel – Everybody has a towel and most every kitchen or bathroom has a damp towel. Placing bowls or cups on a damp towel keeps them from moving when you are using two hands to stir a bowl or pour from a pot. A damp towel helps you grip a jar to open it or to pour from. A damp towel is a good resting spot for a warm cookie sheet when you are trying to remove stuck cookies. A damp towel makes clean up easy so you don’t have to scrunch up a sponge or paper towel. And a damp towel will dry quickly or go into the washing machine and come out ready to use again.
- Slip Resistant Dycem® Strips or Mats – Dycem® is a non-slip material that comes in sheets to be used as non-slip mats and in self-adhesive strips to wrap around utensils or handles. The added friction provided by Dycem material ensures that you use less strength to hold or manipulate something. For instance, you can wrap a strip around a round doorknob to make it easier to open or around your favorite mixing spoon to make it easier to hold. Wrap a strip of Dycem onto a cane or walker handle for better security or around the refrigerator or oven door to make it easier to open. Dycem should be washed or rinsed regularly for it to maintain its non-slip surface.
- Narrow Pliers– Needle nose pliers are useful in a variety of locations. Use them to pull the cotton out of those small annoying medicine bottles. Use them to hold one end of a bracelet or necklace while you fasten it. Needle nose pliers make holding most small items less stressful on your hands.
- A Quality Pen – While some people like to recommend built up pens or pencils, my advice is to buy a good pen with quality ink that flows easily and needs minimal pressure to write clearly. A built up pen that writes poorly is harder to hold and write with than a thinner, better quality pen. If you tend to lose pens, use a sticky label to add your name to make it easier to identify and remember. Always keep the pen in one place and always return it to that place when you are done. You do not need to spend a fortune on a pen but a 15 cent office store pen will never be worth the 15 cents you spent when your thumb is too sore to write with it.
Look for Part -2 of this blog for more suggestions on products that make living with arthritis easier.Like what you’ve read? Click here to subscribe to the blog!
Looking for Information on Splints that Can Help With Your Arthritis? Check out our Finger Splints!
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