Everyday tips for living with arthritis

31 March 2021
Lady doing up her blouse, sitting on a chair and opening a tin with a tin opener.
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Updated: 31 March 2021

Everyone’s arthritis is different, and symptoms can vary from day to day.

There are many ways to maintain a good quality of life when living with arthritis. Here’s our top tips and hacks to help make daily tasks a little easier.

We’ve also highlighted products we love including brilliantly designed products by Arthr.

You can order newly designed products or choose from their Loved by Arthr range, a selection of carefully curated products that meet Arthr high standards of design and use.

All of Arthr’s profits are reinvested back into the services, support and research of Versus Arthritis and into creating the next new product for people with arthritis.

From turning on lights to opening doors

Smart speakers like Alexa, Apple’s homepod and Google Home devices can be used to switch on and off lights or other devices. You can even use them to make phone calls without using your phone.

Some speakers can also function as a personal alarm system - you can ask the speaker to alert someone if you have an accident and can’t make it to the phone.

Opening tablet bottles and getting medication out of a packet can be tough. To make life easier you can try using a pill popping gadget and a tablet dispenser. These can also be handy to help organise your pills for the week. Order a Pivotell pill organiser from Loved by Arthr.

Read more about and order the KeyWing, a key turner thought up by Geoff Rolandsen after seeing his dad struggle to turn a key in a lock. You can also buy specially designed grips to assist with turning dials or knobs.

Also from Arthr, check out the Car Door Mate, designed to support you to get in and out of your car with ease.

In the kitchen

When cooking it can be a challenge to open cans and jars if you have arthritis in your hands.

There are aids which can help, including jar openers, electric can openers, washing up bowls with draining, so you can empty it without lifting it and kettle tippers to avoid having to lift them.

Bernie McGreavey has psoriatic arthritis and osteoarthritis, here she shares which aids help her with daily tasks:

"I’ve come to appreciate how using aids and adaptations allows me the freedom to participate in things I enjoy, to be more independent and to stay active.

I started like most people with small adaptations such as jar openers and electric tin opener, now I use an electric jar opener too. I use scissors to cut open packets as I can’t pull them apart, use scissors to cut meat as it is easier than using a knife. I’ve switched to pre-chopped onions, garlic and ginger and frozen vegetables.

I now have two types of rollators for different types of trips, a three-wheeler that folds small and is light for days out and small shopping trips. The other is a bigger sturdier four-wheeler with a seat, that is great for longer shopping trips. The reduction in pain using a rollator has been surprising and welcome."

Here’s a few more tips to try:

  • Use lightweight crockery and cups with large handles that can be gripped with several fingers.
  • Frozen vegetables will save on preparation and often have a similar nutritional value to fresh vegetables.
  • Use a vegetable steamer – they can be lighter than a saucepan because less water is needed.

Read more in our healthy cooking kitchen hacks.

Getting ready and dressed

A few simple adaptations to your getting ready routine and wardrobe essentials could make all the difference.

When getting ready or throughout the day, we know that getting on and off the toilet can be difficult. Arthr’s Toilet Riser aims to help. For more bathroom tips read our top tips: living with arthritis and using the bathroom.

If it’s challenging to dry your hair or apply makeup. Why not try:

  • Sitting at a table and supporting your elbow on a pillow or cushion when using a hairdryer or straighteners.
  • Using a light travel hair dryer or hands-free hairdryer holder or stand.
  • Using a small make-up sponge to apply face cream or foundation, if you find it difficult to do with your fingertips.
  • Wrapping elastic bands around makeup pencils or brushes to make them easier to grip.

Bra fastenings can be hard work for women and a front fastening bra can be easier to manage. Bras without fastenings that you pull on over your head or pull up from the floor are also available. Check out Elba London for bras with magnetic fastenings.

For more accessible clothing options have a look at The Able Label for clothes specially designed to make dressing easier.

Read more about footwear and what you should look for in a good pair of shoes.

A little help from technology

If you have arthritis in your hands it can be difficult to use a mouse and keyboard. To provide further support you can get a mouse pad or wristband to help protect your hands and wrists.

You can use mouse keys on your keyboard or get an adapted mouse with a rollerballs or vertical mice.

There are alternative keyboards you can buy which are ergonomic keyboard to help support you work or browse the internet. Also, you can consider voice to text software like Dragon, where you speak aloud, and your words will appear on screen.

To reduce swiping your smartphone or typing on your tablet you can use the speakerphone or wireless headphones for calls, and voice to text or voice messages for texts.

You could get a phone case with a grip handle or try a phone holder to help you hold your phone.

Support from your local authority

Did you know you may be able to get gadgets and equipment for free from your local authority?

Your local council may call equipment or modifications to your home ‘aids and adaptations’ or ‘community equipment’.

An aid is any equipment that can help you manage your everyday tasks. This could be:

  • an easy-to-use electric can opener
  • a mattress topper to help you sleep
  • kettle tippers that make it easier to pour water.

Adaptations are physical changes, or home modifications, that can be made to help you get around your home. This could include:

  • grab rails
  • a level access shower
  • a ramp

Find your local authority’s home adaptations service.

In England and Wales you can find your local authority’s home adaptations service by entering your postcode on the Gov UK website

For information on the support available for aids and adaptations in Scotland and Northern Ireland visit the following websites:

Priority Services Register

The Priority Services Register is a free service provided by utility companies (electric, gas and water companies) to give extra support to vulnerable customers who may require assistance. For example, providing large print bills or taking meter readings. Having a log-term medical condition, such as arthritis, means you could be eligible to be on the Priority Services Register.

You need to contact your energy supplier to get on the Priority Services Register and each supplier maintains their own register.

Energy suppliers

Find out more about the Priority Services Register (England and Wales) and check your gas and electric supplier on the Ofgem website

Water

Find out more about the water Priority Services Register and the types of support provided.

Other useful resources

Read more about aids and adaptations, including more advice on getting equipment from local councils.

Go to Ask Sara for helpful advice on gadgets and equipment to make everyday activities easier.

For accessibility information check out AbilityNet, they have useful resources to help you with using technology.

For more advice to help you with daily tasks, speak to your physiotherapist or occupational therapist.

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