Leisure activities hints and tips

Tips on using phones, tablets and e-readers

I bought this little attachment for the back of my phone. It makes holding it so much more comfortable, especially when my little finger joint is inflamed. And it pushes down flat when you’re not using it. I got it off Amazon, but I think eBay do them too. Just search for pop out phone grip.

Claire, via Facebook

I'm using my new tablet to send this, and would recommend anyone who suffers from arthritis in their knees or feet, and spends a lot of time on their computer, to get one. I've increasingly found myself unable to sit at my desk long enough to get everything done. With this, I can now sit in my riser-recliner chair sending emails, with my feet up and a heated pad over my knees. Everything is so much easier on a tablet!

Typing is slower, though a fine stylus helps, as does predictive text. I've also downloaded an Office Suite app, so I can now do most things, apart from updating my website. 

Barbara, via email

Tips on reading and writing

Because I struggled with holding books and tablets while reading, I bought a music stand. This solves most problems; there are clips to hold the book open and I also don't have to bend my neck, which is blissful. In bed, I put a pillow on my stomach or chest. If the book isn’t very thick, I use a clear Perspex recipe book holder.

Marie, via email

I adore reading and in 2012 began to fear that my ability to hold a book was time-limited due to rheumatoid arthritis in my hands and wrist. My grandchildren bought me a Kindle as a Christmas present that year and I was delighted because it was so light.

Two years later, holding even this was becoming a challenge. Last Christmas, they bought me a Kindle Techbed made by Muscava and Edge Beanbags. This clever little beanbag holds e-readers and paper books perfectly and adjusts to the surface. This means I can read in bed in any position, or place it on the arm of my chair, the sunbed in the garden, or on my counter to read a recipe from my iPad.

It’s a wonderful product in quality material, made by a small British company who give excellent customer service. I love sharing info on 'good news' and would like them to get the praise they deserve. It doesn't sound like much, but it has made such a difference to my life and that of my friends (who are also affected by rheumatoid arthritis). 

Mary, via email

If you're looking for a lightweight book-holder, I'm delighted to recommend the Gimble. It's an extremely light and effective product and costs about £5. I'm 47 and have had osteoarthritis for some years. As a keen reader, I was finding it increasingly difficult to hold books open for any length of time. The Gimble is one of the most useful aids I've ever purchased. To find one, just type 'Gimble book holder' into a search engine.

Maggie, Chester - 2010

Absolutely swear by gel pen grips. Writing is so painful for me, especially with thin pens, but these make it a lot more comfortable and my hand cramps/joint pains are definitely reduced. I just stick one on my favourite biro and off I go.

Ruth, via Facebook - 2017

Since I was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy eight years ago I'd been having some trouble with my hands. And as good handwriting had been one of the very few talents which I could claim, I found this to be particularly frustrating and depressing.

Then fortunately a friend spotted someone using a very ‘weird-looking pen’ (her description), which sent me to search Google for ‘writing aids’. Surprisingly this search revealed a wide range of products designed to address all sort of difficulties. I already knew from past experimentation that my problem needed something more radical than the thickness or type of grip of a conventionally shaped pen or ballpoint pen, and happily I decided to try two possible low-cost solutions, both from Sigma Pens.

The first, RinG-Pen, is quite unlike the shape of normal ballpoints and I immediately found that in my case it provided much better control and made it easier to position the tip on the paper, and reduced the amount of tremor from my fingers. The second, RinG-Pen Ultra, uses a similar principle but in the form of a resilient contoured moulding, which clamps to the body of a conventional pen or ball-point. I find this more practical to use as it offers a much longer-lasting ink-reservoir. Either version can be had for less than a tenner including postage so I thought they’d got to be worth trying, and I’m so glad that I did. Are they a total solution?...No. But do they make legible writing significantly easier?...In my case, they certainly do, and I believe that with practice further progress is probable. I must emphasise that my only connection to Sigma Pens is that of a very satisfied and grateful customer.

David, via email - 2014

Tips on travelling and holidays

Use a lightweight padded shoulder bag and take a small blow-up cushion for the base of your spine on a plane (do you know anyone shaped like a plane seat?!). Stand up when you can on the flight and stretch up to overhead lockers. Read up on transport links at arrival airport and buy tickets in advance if you can, so you’re not searching when tired.

Carol - 2017

Stay hydrated – you'd be amazed how much that helps when travelling. I carry a couple of bananas to keep me going instead of reaching for junk food in the airport.

Donna - 2017

If you can, pay for seats with extra leg room so you can move about and stretch your legs.

Ana - 2017

If, like me, you're usually the passenger in a car, then decide on your sitting still time limit and plan stops along the route for some stretches and a walk. We've found some lovely little-known places to visit.

I have also devised an in-car workout to do every hour. I lift my legs in a walking motion; with feet flat, pushing off the floor, or lifted off, depending on how strong I'm feeling. I add arm movements as though walking, to keep my upper body mobile. All movements should be small and discreet to not distract or irritate the driver.

This all made a huge difference to me when we toured France in May, and I arrived home in much better shape than usual.

Nora - 2017

Tips on gardening

Shed adaptations

My potting shed not only has a bench for standing at to rest my arms on, but now has a small folding table (that my potting tray fits on) and a lower folding chair, so I can sit down for longer jobs like pricking seedlings out.

I think Versus Arthritis four Ps are very good – Pacing, Problem-solving, Planning and Prioritising – especially the first two if you want to adapt to gardening with arthritis. Happy pottering!

Angie, via Facebook

Hosepipe adaptations

I’ve recently bought an aqua spray gun for my hose pipe. As I have bad arthritis in my hands, the normal spray gun with a trigger was a pain (literally) to use.

This has a 'lever' on the top to regulate the flow, and then just relax. It has all the normal choice of sprays. I have no link whatsoever with the manufacturers. Just a very satisfied customer. They're found at www.crest-garden.com.

John, via email

Good tools

My biggest tip for gardening when you have arthritis is to invest in good tools, like a dandelion plucker, with extended handles.

I also have a number of different height decks that I can sit on to get access to built-in flower beds and pots.


Carrying out tasks in the garden

Keep changing the chores you're doing to give your joints different actions. This stops prolonged use of any one joint.

Caroline, via Facebook