Osteoarthritis Living With Arthritis Assistive Technology

Before considering the use of assistive technology or mobility aids to help with sore joints resulting from osteoarthritis, remember it’s best to keep your body as flexible and strong as possible. Consult with your physician or therapist before using any device with which you are not familiar. It is possible to do more harm than good if your tools for arthritis are not properly used. Here is a broad view of some of the assistive technologies and devices available to help ease the strain on sore joints:

In the Bathroom

Consider safety bars or mats for easily and safely getting into and out of the tub and shower. Also, safety bars near the toilet are a good investment. Elevated toilet seats and seats for the tub or shower can be useful, and can help prevent sore joints.

Dressing

Elastic shoelaces allow you to put your shoes on or take them off without tying or untying the laces; these are ideal for those who suffer from osteoarthritis in the hands or fingers. A long shoehorn is also good for those who have trouble bending over. Wear shoes that provide good support. Women should avoid heels higher than one inch, and men should avoid slip-ons or loafers.

Wear thick gloves when gripping objects tightly. Gloves can reduce the strain on your hand and wrist when you lift something like a heavy frying pan. Large ring zipper pulls help overcome difficulty in grasping small zippers.

In the Kitchen

Kitchen utensils with large, easy to grip handles are available. Look for those with a soft, rubber-like material that is comfortable. Use an electric can opener that can be operated with one hand. Simple devices that add leverage to open vacuum-sealed jars are also helpful.

Working

Use an arm support that attaches to a table or desk. Mobile tables that move over a chair or bed let you work where you feel most comfortable. Swivel seat cushions allow movement in any direction, resulting in less back and hip stress for osteoarthritis sufferers. For difficulty moving from sitting to standing, consider a “seat lift,” which raises or lowers you from or to most any chair. Finally, one of the simplest tools for arthritis sufferers is a telephone with larger buttons.

Mobility Aids

The area of assistive technology is rapidly developing. Consult frequently with your physician or physical therapist for information on new advances and availability of mobility aids. Using a cane in the northern climates can present a challenge. An ice spike on a cane will help ensure more stable support. A cane wrist strap can prevent dropping the cane and the need to bend over and pick it up, doubly dangerous in icy conditions. Lightweight, foldable walkers can be taken almost anywhere. Check the feet of walkers for good traction on the surfaces you are most likely to travel.

Many devices and aids in the area of assistive technology are available. Keep your eyes and ears open, ask your friends, and investigate anything that looks like it may improve your quality of life.

Resources

Access with Ease. (nd). Capability.

Eldercorner.com. (nd). Products for a fun and easy lifestyle.

FauxPress.com. (nd). Living with osteoarthritis.