Living with arthritis: practical solutions

Wednesday 1st October

People suffering with a painful arthritic condition can have difficulty in holding, grasping and gripping, causing them to drop things. Occupational therapist Caroline Molloy has some handy suggestions for making life a little easier.

"Arthritis is a condition which can cause damage to your joints, so you need to try to preserve your joints by using adaptive techniques like larger handled cutlery, not gripping so tightly, and balancing the load when carrying your shopping,” says occupational therapist Caroline Molloy, who works with healthcare.co.uk. “One of the most important things that occupational therapy does is to advocate joint protection, and all of these things can help.”

As healthcare professionals, occupational therapists (OTs) have a wealth of knowledge in this area and can provide sound advice as well as workable solutions. “As an OT, I am most often approached for practical help in the kitchen, so gadgets like electric tin-openers and larger handled cutlery which is easier to grip,” says Caroline. “When you have arthritis, your fingers tend to swell, you may experience pain and your fingers may become slightly out of position. You might not be able to straighten your fingers as you used to, you might not even be able to grip hold of a knife or a fork. So when preparing your food, how do you chop your vegetables, and how do you manage hot pans?”

Carolines kitchen tips

Cooking vegetables: “Take a jug of water to the saucepan (you can refill it two or three times) and fill the pan with water. Then use a vegetable basket; it's like a chip-pan liner but slightly smaller. You put your vegetables in the vegetable basket, bring them to the boil and cook as normal. When you're finished, all you do is lift the basket out of the saucepan. Just leave the water to go cold in the pan before emptying it. Vegetable baskets are one of my top tips as they're cheap and very effective.”

Opening jars and bottles: “The seals can be quite strong, and for someone with arthritis using just the ends of their fingers would be very painful. There's a small rubber, cone-shaped bottle-opener that allows you just a little bit more grip. There's also a larger one that goes over a jar, allowing you to use your palm and spread the load across your whole hand. ”

Reducing fatigue: “Standing at the sink to wash up can be really hard on other arthritic joints such as ankles and knees, as it's not just the hands that are affected. There's a range of perching stools – high stools with a gradual slant to the seat. You perch rather than sit, so you're supported at your work surface. It means you can take more time over washing up, preparing your tea and coffee, or doing the ironing. Whatever the activity, spreading the load and spreading the time will help with your energy levels.”

Bathroom tips

Brushing your teeth: “You can also use a perching stool in the bathroom when you're at the basin brushing your teeth. Rather than buying large-grip pens or toothbrushes, you can buy a tube-like handle that slides onto your toothbrush (or pencil), making it easier to grip. Or consider an electric toothbrush, which has a larger handle for gripping”

Using taps: “An occupational therapist might recommend changing your taps from a turning tap to a lever tap which you use with the palm of your hand. A lot of people struggle with taps and sometimes I recommend that people get a plumber in because their taps are generally too stiff. There are also tap turners – little gadgets that go over the tap to turn it into a lever tap.”

Having a bath: “Lots of people tell me they have a bath every morning because it gives them more movement: they have a reduction in swelling, a reduction in pain, and generally feel better. Getting in and out of the bath can be really difficult, though, so there is a range of bathroom equipment from boards to seats to a bath-lifter.”

Bedroom tips

A good night's rest: “Some people I've spoken to have had their mattress for 50 years or more, so one of the first things I look at is the quality of the mattress on the bed. If the mattress has collapsed not only will you have an uncomfortable night's sleep, but you'll find it really difficult to get out of bed in the morning.” Caroline also recommends recliner chairs as a way of adding relaxation and rest into your daily routine, and to help change your sitting position.

Getting in/out of bed: “What I advocate is a bed lever-rail which goes underneath the mattress and comes just below shoulder level. You can use it either to help turn yourself over in the night-time or to get out of bed in the morning.”

 

 

twitter icon facebook icon youtube icon linkedin icon googleplus icon

Contact us - We would love to hear from you

New members

Send us a message

Benenden Personal Healthcare
Holgate Park Drive
York
YO26 4GG
0800 414 8001 * (Lines open 8am-5pm, Mon-Fri excluding Bank Holidays)

Existing members

Send us a message

Benenden Personal Healthcare
Holgate Park Drive
York
YO26 4GG
0800 414 8100 * (Lines open 8am - 8pm, Mon-Fri excluding Bank Holidays)

Please note that your call may be recorded for our mutual security and also for training and quality purposes.

Health cash plans

Benenden Health Cash Plan
BHSF Limited
2 Darnley Road,
Birmingham,
B16 8TE
0800 414 8071

Lines are open 8.45am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday.

Self-pay orthopaedic surgery

Send us a message

Benenden Hospital Trust
Goddard's Green Road
Benenden
Cranbrook
Kent
TN17 4AX
01580 242521 (Lines open 8am-4.30pm Mon-Fri)

Health assessments

Send us a message

Health assessments
Unit 1, Cameron Court
Cameron Street
Hillington Park
Glasgow
G52 4JH
0800 414 8486*

Travel insurance

Send us a message

Travel insurance
2nd Floor Maitland House
Warrior Square
Southend-on-Sea
Essex
SS1 2JY
0800 414 8301*

Lines open for Sales
9am-8pm Monday to Friday 
9am-5pm Saturday
10am-5pm Sunday

Lines open for Customer Services
9am-8pm Monday to Friday
9am-5pm Saturday
10am-5pm Sunday

Benenden for business

Send us a message

Benenden for Business
Holgate Park Drive
York
YO26 4GG

0800 414 8179
(Lines are open 9am-5pm Mon-Fri)

Home insurance

Send us a message

Benenden Home Insurance
1st Floor Maitland House
Warrior Square
Southend on Sea
Essex
SS1 2JY
0800 414 8556* (Lines open Monday to Friday 9am – 7pm, Saturday 9am – 5pm, excludes Bank Holidays)

Home Emergency
0800 294 2851* (Lines open 24 hours a day)

Legal Expenses
0330 100 9618* (Lines open 24 hours a day)

Charitable trust

Send us a message

Find out more

Charitable Trust
Holgate Park Drive
York
YO26 4GG
0800 414 8450* (Lines open 8am - 4pm Mon-Fri)