Home gizmos that really help

by Collette McColgan

jar opener_edited

From shoe horns to windscreen covers, Collette McColgan picks the home gizmos that really help

If you’ve just been diagnosed with a form of arthritis, you’ll know that there is quite a lot to take in. But you don’t need to let the diagnosis overwhelm you when there’s already plenty of tools, tricks and tips out there to help you.

Having tools and living aids around the home to help you serves two purposes – they help you do the things you can’t manage on your own, and they also stop you straining yourself by doing things you probably shouldn’t be doing but still want to have a go at.

When it comes to help around the kitchen, you should focus on easing the strain you might be putting on the joints in your arms, particularly the wrists and fingers.

There are many different types of jar openers, but my favourite is this one pictured above, which has different size options. Mine was bought as a gift (a really good gift, actually) but I have found this fetching blue one from Sue Ryder.

It may also be worth investing in a ring-pull device. I didn’t even consider that opening cans of pop would be beyond my capabilities until my doctor told me just how much strain I was putting on my fingertips by doing so. I’ve not looked back, and despite my own CanPull Can Opener going walkabout in university halls (some students will nick anything, won’t they?!) I’ve always asked someone to open my cans for me since. If you don’t have that luxury, I would recommend this one from the Complete Care Shop.

Reflex preparation knife

Reflex preparation knife

Finally, around the kitchen, I would recommend investing in a knife with an angled handle. If you think about how knives work, they’re designed at the opposite angle to how your wrist really wants to work.

I love this one, from the Complete Care Shop – it’s great for cutting everything, especially bread. They also have a wide variety of knives for different purposes with the same handle, so if you have a lot of wrist issues and love cooking these could be the solution.

It can also be a good idea to have a step around the home that can be used for various things. Reaching above for things can be dangerous even for people with no joint problems, never mind the added strain you’re putting your arms under. Taking yourself safely up a level can make all the difference. The Complete Care Shop has a wide variety of steps for you to choose from.

Getting dressed

You’re probably not only going to struggle in the kitchen, though. We can all select items of clothing with easy zips and buttons when needed, and if not we can always get around those issues by buying button hooks and zip pullers to help. But what about the things we can’t avoid wearing? Socks and shoes for example.

I was given a shoe horn with a really long handle from my occupational therapist for the days when I can’t reach my own feet – all too frequent these days. I also have a sock and tights putter-onner (or stocking aid as they are also known) which is a real delight, though I would recommend keeping a stock of talcum powder for those sticky feet days! Choose your assistant here.

Other bits

It’s also worth investing in either a heat or a cool pack to have around the house. You can get ones that can be stored in the freezer or heated up in the microwave. You can get this one from Amazon, as well as a cover and strap for it.

If you’re a driver, I would recommend getting a windscreen cover for your car for the cold winter months. It will save you time and effort scraping your windscreen and avoids putting your joints near cold snow and ice for a prolonged period of time.

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