Having joints that don’t always work as designed can present challenges to daily living. Fortunately, there are a few gadgets that can make life a little easier. Here are some of my favorites.
Levers, not knobs – The doors in my house, with very few exceptions, open with levers. The water faucets are the same way. This is a great design. Every time I see my rheumatologist, she asks if I have difficulty turning door knobs, and I always say, “I don’t have door knobs.” If your home has the traditional knobs and they can’t be replaced with levers, Great Grips are good, too.
Garage door opener - There are days that my shoulders won’t tolerate reaching overhead. That makes it extremely difficult to reach up to grab the rope which is used to pull the door closed. Even when I can reach up, grasping the rope with stiff hands can be a challenge. Pressing a button to let a machine take care of the door eliminates painful reaching and grasping. My side of the garage has an automatic door opener; my husband’s side of the garage opens manually. I have ample opportunity to reinforce how helpful it is to have this great tool!
Stand mixer - It’s really nice to put ingredients in a bowl and throw the switch, no holding, juggling, lifting, or reaching required. I particularly like the dough hook because I never knew until RA how much wrist/elbow/shoulder action is needed to knead bread dough. I can mix two loaves at a time with the dough hook, no hand-kneading required. It’s great for mixing noodle dough, too.
Long-handled shoe horn - Since I put my shoes on as soon as I get out of bed every day, I’m at my stiffest when I need to bend over and shove feet into shoes. The long handle is especially nice; this handy tool makes it much easier to get my shoes on in the mornings.
Pill sorter - It can be hard to get into the habit of taking medicine every day. A pill box helps. First, because I don’t have to get the lid off of all those medicine bottles. Second, because it’s very easy to see whether or not I’ve remembered to take my dose. For a while, I forgot to take my pills every Monday at noon. The pill boxes made it easy to identify the pattern, and I realized I needed to figure out what was going on that day to screw up my routine – which helped me solve the problem. Every couple months I bought an extra box, and now I have four. When I get home from the pharmacy, I transfer my pills for the month into the little pill sorter boxes. There’s no need to deal with the bottles again until my next trip to the pharmacy.
Dough thrower - Just for fun, because I like to bake bread (and my family likes to eat fresh-baked bread), but it’s become pretty hard to do sometimes, I thought I’d mention my dough thrower. This is a large dough hook which attaches to a pail, and has a easy-grasp handle atop for turning the dough hook. The pail is big enough to hold dough for four loaves of bread (or four dozen dinner rolls). Some days I can’t manage the handle very long, but when there are enough people around that I need to bake four loaves, there are enough people around that I can recruit someone else to turn the handle.
Do you have special tools that make things easier for you?