While most people think of arthritis as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, it’s actually a broad term that can refer to more than 100 different conditions. Generally, these conditions are more likely to be seen in the elderly, but they can affect people at any age. Common to all arthritic conditions is pain in varying degrees. For some people, this pain can be so severe that it interferes with normal daily activities.
Associated with severe pain, patients may also experience stiffness and swelling. Most arthritic conditions are chronic and degenerative. As such, people with these conditions can experience secondary medical concerns related to muscle tone and dexterity.
An estimated 10 million people in the UK suffer from some type of arthritis. However, because it is such a widespread condition, there are many aides and treatments available.
Easier Living with Arthritis
While there is no cure for arthritis pain and associated swelling, pain management and mobility aides can make living with this chronic condition easier. Frequently OTC painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications are effective in easing pain. In more severe cases, surgery may be warranted. And depending on the type of arthritis, your doctor may also prescribe medication to relieve symptoms.
The stiffness and swelling often makes daily tasks more difficult. Simple tasks like rising from a chair, dressing, or using household appliance can become incredibly challenging and frustrating. At its most severe, patients can lose aspects of their independence.
To help patients with arthritis keep their independence longer, there are a wide range of assistive devices available. Each can be used by the patient without help to make daily living tasks easier.
Arthritic conditions can affect people in countless ways. Attempting to list every assistive device available is not practical. Instead, let’s look at the most common daily tasks and some of the possible devices to make each of them easier.
Achy, stiff, and swollen joints can make it difficult to get in and out of the shower or bathtub safely. It can also be difficult to reach feet or lower legs without risk of falling. Bath lifts, sponges with long handles, safety rails, and shower chairs can all make personal hygiene easier.
Tying a shoelace with stiff, swollen joints can seem impossible. Zipping or buttoning a shirt or coat can be equally frustrating. Instead of giving up that independence, patients can make use of a variety of assistive tools including button & zipper pulls, self-binding shoelaces, and long shoehorns.
Eating and Drinking
Typical forks and knives can be tough to grip with stiff fingers and trying to grasp smooth, slippery, or heavy crockery poses a danger of dropping the item leading to spills or burns. Eating and drinking without help is easier with items like easy-grip cutlery, spill-free cups, two-handled cups, no-slip bowls and plates, plate holders, and clothing protection.
Kitchen and Cooking
Preparing a meal can be challenging, even dangerous, for someone with arthritis. Assistive devices such as hot beverage dispensers, kettle pourers, jar openers, pan holders, and tap turners make it easier for patients to manage on their own in the kitchen.
House and Home
Writing a note, changing the channel, or making a phone call can all present challenges for someone with stiff hands. Handy tools and gadgets like key turners, plug pullers, pen and pencil grips, large format phones, remotes, and keyboards can all make these daily life tasks accessible.
Standing and Moving
One of the most common causes of immobility are arthritic hips and knees. Instead of giving up independence and risk additional health problems from lack of movement, a wide range of mobility assistive devices are available. These include walking frames, rollators, standing support rails, and riser chairs.