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Simple Tasks Made Easier. 

 April 27, 2024

By  Linda Rook

Grabber Reacher

Introduction.

If you develop arthritis, it can bring challenges that affects your ability to do simple tasks.  However, in today’s world there are strategies and gadgets that can help you and keep your independence.

But first what is arthritis:

Arthritis is a condition that involves joint pain, inflammation, and stiffness, which can limit your mobility.  The disease can develop at any age from your grandparents to your little toddlers, and can sometimes be very debilitating.

Making your life simple by changing things to your environment can help you on a daily basis, such as bathroom rails, bannisters up the stairs, removing any mats, that you can trip on. And much more…

You can also make your life better with devices to help you in the kitchen, to limit you straining your joints and muscles. There is also walkers, canes to help you walk around.

Listening to your body is essential, you should pace yourself, when a task is giving you pain and discomfort, when this happens you should have a rest.

15 Daily Tasks Made Simple:

In this blog I shall explore 15 tips that can make everyday tasks easier and manageable, for those of you who are living with arthritis or any other joint diseases.

1. Dressing.

When you dress yourself in the morning you may feel it challenging as you may be stiff from laying down for a long time.  The things that can help are:

  • For women try and get front closing bras, instead of buttons or zips try and get Velcro. Elastic waistbands.
  • To save time in the morning put out your clothes the night before.
  • Getting devices such as long-handled shoehorns can help to put on shoes, or button hooks can help with buttons.
  • Loosen tight clothes before you put them on, this will help dressing easier and comfortable.
woman getting dressed with help
  • Do not hesitate to get help if it is too difficult to dress yourself, ask for help from a caregiver, family member or friend.
  • To reduce the stiffness, try and do some gentle stretching before you get dressed.
  • 2. Texting with arthritic thumbs.

    When you text, you are using your thumbs more which can make the already unhealthy joints worse.  You should try and text with your fingers, or better still use a voice recognition text message, that can leave a message of your voice.

    always go for flat heels rather than high heels

    3. High heels.

    This section is for women wearing high heels. If you wear high heels you are putting pressure on your feet, making your joint feet and heels worse, as you are putting additional stain on the already painful symptoms.

    Therefore, you should go for low heels, with a broader base for stability and less strain and pressure on the joints.

    It is best if you look for supportive styles such as cushioned insoles and adequate arch support. Or wedge heels, these distribute the weight more evenly. 

    Also look for comfortable materials, such as heels made out of soft, flexible material that has natural movement of the feet as you walk.

    When you go out and wear high heels for a special occasion take a pair of flats or sneakers to change into when your feet start aching.

    When you develop arthritis of the feet it is best to choose comfortable shoes rather than fashionable wear.

    4. Carrying bags.

    When you get arthritis in the shoulders, hands, or wrists you are putting more strain on these joints when you carry bags.  Some tips on how to carry bags easier and reduce the strain of arthritic joints include.

    Using backpack or crossbody bags, these distribute the weight evenly across the shoulders and back, also choose padded straps for comfort, they can also reduce the strain on your hands and wrists.

    carry bags evenly

    But if you need to carry a bag on one shoulder, try and alternate sides regularly, this will help to distribute the weight more evenly.

    If you need to carry bags, choose a bag on wheels, to reduce the heavy load, this can help for groceries, heavy bottles, and bulky items.

    When you need to carry bags for an extended time you should try and take breaks and rest your hands, wrists, and shoulders.

    5. Picking up heavy boxes.

    Picking up a heavy box when you have arthritis in the back, can potentially increase the risk of injury. You should first assess the weight of the box, before lifting, to determine if you can lift it. If it is too heavy ask for an assistance or get a trolly.

    You should always use the proper lifting technique, which is lifting a box with bent knees, and keep your back straight.  You should avoid bending at the waist, this can stain the lower back.

    always bend your knees when picking up boxes

    Technique:

    • Bend your knees, keeping your back straight.
    • Use your legs muscles to lift the box.
    • Keeping it close to your body to minimize strain in the back.
    • Whilst lifting keep your spine in a neutral position.
    • Avoid twisting or bending the back.
    • Engage your core muscles to provide stability and support for your spine.

    If you have arthritis in the spine, you should consider some devices such as a back support belt or lifting straps to have additional support for your back when you lift heavy boxes.

    6. Pushing doors open with arthritic hands.

    When you develop arthritis in the hands, pushing a door open with your hands can be painful, and a reduced grip.  There are some tips that can help you, they are:

    Instead of pushing with your hands and fingers you should use your body weight. By leaning into the door with your body instead of your hands.

    Another way is to use your forearm or elbow to push the door open, and slowly open the door to minimize any jerking or pulling on the door.

    If you have no door handles, it is best if you install lever-style handles, instead of door knobs.  The door handles are easier to grip if you have arthritis of the hands or fingers.

    7. How to sit and stand with arthritic back.

    There are techniques to sitting and standing if you have arthritic back. 

    always sit with your back straight.

    Sitting:

    Choose a support chair, this has good lumbar support for your lower back.  You should try and avoid chairs that are too hard or soft as they may make your back pain worse.

    Keeping a proper posture is essential such as sitting with your back straight and shoulders down and relaxed, with your feet on the floor and your hips distributed evenly.

    If the chair has no lumbar support, you should use a cushion or lumbar roll, this helps with the natural curve of your lower back. 

    If sitting is your job, you should ask if you could have breaks, regular breaks like standing, stretching and changing your position, this will help the stiffness and reduce the strain in the back.

    To help with the alignment of the spine and reduce pressure on your back you should adjust your chair height, so that your knees are level with or slightly below your hips when you sit.

    Standing:

    When you stand properly you should have your feet shoulder-width apart and your weight evenly distributed on both feet.  To prevent pressure on your lower back you need to slightly bend your knees.

    To help improve your posture and reduce strain on your back you should stand with your abdominal muscles tighten, as this will support your spine whilst standing.

    A good standing posture is also standing tall, shoulders back and your chin parallel to the ground. You will put more strain on your back if you slouch or lean forward. 

    Stand  with your spine straight.

    8. How to sleep with pain.

    When you have a back problem lying down in bed can make the back worse, there are some techniques such as:

    Buying a supportive mattress and pillows that provides proper spinal alignment and pressure relief.  Also find pillows to support your spine and ease the pressure on your back.

    When lying on your back it would be best if you put a pillow under your knees, this gives a natural curve of the lower back.  But if you sleep on your side place a pillow between your knees, with your knees slightly bent, to keep the spine aligned.

    Gently and slowly get into bed without straining your back, using your arms for support and use your core muscles to protect your spine.

    Before your bedtime it would help if you reduce the pain and stiffness.  A heating pad, warm towel or hot water bottle can relax the muscles and improve your circulation, whereas ice packs reduce inflammation and numb pain.

    typing with arthritic hands

    9. Working at a keyboard with arthritic hands and wrists.

    Arthritic hands and wrists can be challenging if you have a job with typing, there are some devices that can help you such as:

    Your workstation should be set up with your keyboard at elbow height or slightly lower.  Use an ergonomic keyboard that helps you to allow your wrists to be in a neutral position, and minimizing strain.

    To reduce the wrist movement, use a trackball or an ergonomic mouse.  Also use a padded wrist rest, avoid resting your wrists on the hard surface, as this can become painful. Whilst typing you should type lightly and avoid force. Taking frequent breaks can rest your hands and stretch your fingers.

    10. Driving with arthritis.

    When you develop arthritis in your hands, wrists, hips or/and knees, driving can be challenging.  There are some ways that can help you to make driving comfortable:

    You should sit properly by adjusting your seat to a comfortable position to reach the pedals, with your knees slightly bent. Your hips and back should have a support like a seatback, this can be a lumbar support to reduce strain on the back.

    Driving with painful back.

    There are some devices like a steering wheel modification, such as a steering wheel cover that has extra padding or grips, to reduce the strain on your hands and wrists. Or a steering wheel knob, this can make steering easier.

    Other devices could be adaptive driving aids like hand controls for braking and accelerating, if the gripping of the steering wheel or suing foot pedals is uncomfortable.

    You could install a swivel seat for getting in and out of the car, if you have arthritis in the hips or knees.

    Also, you should plan your journey and find rest stops, to stretch your legs and reduce stiffness. Or use a cruise control during long stretches (motorways or highways). Try and avoid rush hours, if possible.

    Doing house hold chores with painful back

    11. Doing Household Chores.

    When you find household cleaning a challenge, there are some strategies that you can do to make these tasks easier.

    Firstly, you should pace yourself by breaking up the tasks into smaller, and more manageable jobs, also take breaks as you need to, do not overexert yourself.

    Buy some tools that will make your tasks simple, such as, tools designed to reduce strain on your joints, they can include: long-handled broom and pans, lightweight vacuum, mop handles with adjustable lengths.

    Choose handles that are padded and make gripping easy and comfortable.  The storage of the tools should be waist level or higher to reduce bending or reaching, this can be storage boxes for commonly used tools.

    Help around the house could be grab rails where you need extra support, such as around the bath, sink and toilet, and hand rails in the kitchen.

    If you find it really difficulty to do things around the house try and delegate the tasks, ask family members or friends to help you. Consider hiring a professional cleaning service.

    In the kitchen you could have electric can opener, if you find opening cans difficult, or grip aids for those tight jar tops, keep things to your height, so that you are not reaching high shelves.

    12. Personal Hygiene.

    When you live with arthritis personal hygiene can be very challenging, but there are some devices that can help you, such as:

    If you have arthritis in the fingers, you may have difficulty in brushing your teeth, there are electric tooth brushes that can make it easier, or combing your hair, it is advised to get long handled combs or brushes.

    Arthritis in your knees or hips may mean that you cannot have a shower, but, there are shower chairs or benches to sit whilst you are showering. Installing grab bars or handrails in the bathroom can help with your stability.

    handle rails around the sink will help to stabilise you.

    Also, in the shower use non-slip mats or adhesive strips to reduce the risk of slipping and falling, install a showerhead with an adjustable height to make bathing easy.

    For women try and streamline your grooming tasks by using multi-purpose shampoo and conditioner, wash your hair less frequently or use dry shampoo between washes.

    To minimize gripping and twisting motions try things such as pump bottles or spray deodorants.

    13. Cooking a Meal.

    Cooking meals can be challenging, but you can get devices that can help you, with your kitchen setup and cooking methods, as well as enjoying preparing the meals.

    You can organize your kitchen by keeping frequent items in your reach. Store cooking items such as pots and pans where they are accessible.  Arrange your kitchen so you can move around easy and safely, by clearing the table tops and floor to reduce falling or tripping.

    two handled saucepan.

    Invest in kitchen gadgets such as a two handled saucepan, jar opener, easy-grip utensils, and the list goes on…

    Find recipes that do not require a lot of chopping, stirring, that have repetitive motions, look for meals that can be prepared in advance or with few ingredients.

    Where possible you should go for: pre-packed or pre-cut foods, this will help your hands and fingers as well as time and frozen vegetables or pre-cooked vegetables or grains can also be an option.

    Whilst you are cooking, do more so that you can freeze some for when you are having a bad flare-up.  Modify your actions when chopping, use a rocking motion, also use two hands to lift or pour, and use pot holders or oven mitts to protect your hands.

    When you prepare the meal, it would be best for your back if you sit on a stool or chair, if you stand for a long period.

    14. Climbing stairs.

    When you have arthritis in the knees and hips climbing stairs can be painful, there are strategies that can help you go up and down stairs safely and easily.

    You should take it slowly; rushing can increase the risk of you falling and worsen your painful joints.  Handrails should be installed for support and stability.

    Climbing stairs the proper way is not to put too much strain on your knees and hips.  The correct way is to bend your knees slightly and use your core muscles as you climb.

    When climbing the stairs become difficult, there are devices like a cane to help you with the stairs, installing a stair lift or ramp in your home, or a chair stair, can help you.

    stair chair a device for the home stairs.

    15. Exercises with painful joints.

    I know the last thing you want to do is to exercise, but exercises help to improve joints, by strengthening the muscles around the joints. The exercises you should be doing is low-impact exercises that include:

    • Swimming or water aerobics:

    When you are in the water you can move more easier, without putting extra stress on the joints. Therefore, exercise in the water such as swimming, water walking, or water aerobics can improve cardiovascular fitness and help with muscles around the joints.

    • Cycling:

    This could be either cycling on a stationary bike or outdoors, can help the joint pain, as it is a low-impact exercise to help the knees and hips.

    • Tai Chi or Yoga.

    These two are gentle forms of exercises tai chi is a slow movement with deep breathing, which helps with stress and tension. Whereas yoga is a gentle stretching exercise.  But both of these exercises you must find proper classes or videos specifically for people with arthritis or joint pain.

    Physio with a resistant band.
    • Resistance bands:

    Resistance bands can help to get strength back in your muscles around the joints. The muscles that you should be targeting are your biceps, shoulders, and leg lifts.

    • Walking.

     Another low-impact exercise is walking, this can suit people at all levels of joint pain.  You should start with short walks and slowly increase the duration.

    Conclusion.

    In conclusion, If you have been diagnosed with arthritis or similar joint disease, then it can be challenging to do day to day tasks. Doing everyday tasks can be debilitating, and can worsen the already painful joints.

    By using simple devices and gadgets, you will be able to get your independence back, and tasks will become easier.

    Tasks that you can change to make it easier for you can include:

    Adaptive tools and gadgets in the kitchen such as opening jars and cans easier, utensils, light weight pans.

    Try getting assistive devices such as walking stick or walkers, they can reduce the risk of falls.

    Modify your home environment with handrails or grab rails in the bathroom, and stairs.

    Your daily routine can be broken up into smaller more manageable steps.

    Regular exercise is a must, low-impact exercises can help with flexibility and strength in your joints, such as swimming, walking, yoga, etc.…

    Always listen to your body and change the activities as needed.  If tasks cause you pain or discomfort, then you need to have a break. 

    By using these strategies in your daily life, you can maintain independence, stay active, and have a fulfilling lifestyle.

    Also working with healthcare professionals, such as physiotherapy, occupational therapists etc. will provide you with guidance and support in managing your symptoms and adapt a new way of doing your daily tasks.

    I hope this article has helped you.  Please subscribe to my website, and I will keep you updated on new blogs.  Also if you need to know anything about arthritis, please go to my contact page and leave a message.

    In the meantime, if this post is informative, I would be very grateful if you would help your friends or family if they have a similar condition to tell them. So please share it on Twitter (X) or Facebook or send them an email.

    Also check out my eBook for more information on this article.

    I am not a medical professional, and this blog is for information only. If you have any worries, you should consult your doctor.

    I hope this blog has helped.

    More Information.

    https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/healthy-living/daily-living/life-hacks-tips/adapting-your-house

    https://www.webmd.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/ra-help-daily-tasks


    Linda Rook

    Linda is now retired and has suffered from Osteoarthritis for about 40+ years.  She struggled with her weight until she found the correct one that also helped with her arthritic pain.  Linda was in terrible pain until the physician thought her right hip needed replacement. 


    Now Linda has an artificial right hip, which has left her with the left leg shorter than the right.  Therefore, her spine is now wonky, and has arthritis of the lower back, also it seems to be going all over the body, her pain is now in the knees, elbow, wrist, fingers and both hips.


    Linda now spends her days writing information to help others with the same conditions, so they do not suffer like Linda.


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