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?

Opening Doors

Grasping door knobs requires the ability to close one’s hand.  Sometimes that’s easier said than done.  Fortunately, my house doesn’t have knobs.  We have those wonderful levers that make it easy to open the doors.  Wonderful for adults, anyhow; not so terrific if you have toddlers!

After two years of telling my doctor that I don’t have any doorknobs, one day I realized that my house does have knobs – just a couple – but I don’t usually use those doors.  They’re difficult to open, and sometimes it’s easier to just use a different entrance (or pound until someone hears me and opens the door).  Last Christmas an organization to which we made a donation sent out “thank you” gifts, and ours was a two-pack of door openers:

In the picture you can see that there’s a cut-out to allow insertion of a key into the keyhole.   I expected them to be a gimmicky thing, but they aren’t.  They work great, and after nearly a year they’re still soft (but not as clean as they were in the beginning).  It’s really nice to be able to open those two doors that I rarely used before!

If you’re independently wealthy and can afford to replace all the door knobs in your house with levers, that’s definitely the way to go.  However, for the price to install levers on three doors, you can get a bin of twenty Great Grips adapters (enough for ten doors).  For those whose houses don’t have quite that many doors, the knob covers are also available in packs of two.

The same company also make faucet grips, and I’d definitely try them if all my water faucets didn’t also have levers.

Disclosure:  I received two Great Grips door knob adapters free, and have received no compensation for stating my opinion.