Having RA and Fibromyalgia I am learning to adapt. Since these diseases are not going any where it is important to learn new and improved ways of doing things. Before I got creative I was reduced to tears each and every time I tried to do something and found that I no longer had the ability. Then I realized I do have the ability it is just the HOW that had to change. I thought I would share with you my RA took kit. If you have any suggestions, strategies or ideas please share them in the comment section. What works for one person might not work for everyone. The more items we have in our tool kit the better our chances of success with the task at hand!
Safety bars by the toilet and in the shower. This provides stability and support for getting up from sitting or to hold on to in the shower so that we do not fall. It is important to have the type that screw into the wall as the ones with suction cups fall down frequently and are not strong enough to do what most people purchase them for. Not to mention they have a tendency to fall into the tub with a thud in the middle of the night scaring everyone half to death!
A raised toilet seat is a must if you have bad knees. You never realize just how low actual toilets are until you have bad knees and find you can't get up. Rather embarrassing to be stuck on the toilet and it happens more often than you might realize. It is just one of those things people don't like to discuss.
Use an electric toothbrush. I found my hands tire quickly and the electric toothbrush does the work for you. Not to mention they have a much wider handle making them easier to hold. If you prefer a manual toothbrush then wrap the handle in elastic bands to make it thicker (easier to hold) and it also provides a better grip.
Use bathtub slip guards. These usually come in the form of water proof stickers that are stuck on the bottom of the bathtub so that you do not slip and fall.
Razor - Electric razors are wonderful, do the work for you and are usually easier to hold/grip because of their large size. If you use a disposable razor again wrap the handle in elastic bands for a better grip and making it easier to hold.
Bathmat - Having a soft mat to step on when you get out of the shower is nice and gentle on the feet. More importantly it will help to keep you on your feet so that you do not slip on the wet bathroom floor.
Bathroom Dream - I have had to give up soaking in a nice hot tub because once I get down into the tub (that is a difficulty all on it's own) I can't get out. Even with help getting out of the tub can be tricky. I would LOVE one of those beautiful walk in bathtubs that they advertise on television...a girl can dream :)
Dresser - I found that my antique dresser is just too darn heavy to open any more. If you are lucky enough you will have a dresser with drawers that are easy glide and open and close with little effort. In my case with help, I reorganized my dresser. Every day items now have a place in my closet and items that are rarely used are kept in the drawers. A basket or hanging shelf (IKEA) to hold all of the smaller items from your dresser that might get lost in a closet.
Clothing - There are gadgets to help putting on socks. (I have stopped wearing socks as it is too painful on my toes) You can locate a number of these in Home Health Care (a Division of Shoppers Drug Mart) or Pharmacy settings.
Ladies - The Ahhh Bra is wonderful. No clasps for sore hands to grapple with. You can order on-line.
Elastic waist pants/skirts/sweats - no buttons or zippers to struggle with.
I am tired of fighting with things it takes much more energy than I have. For this reason belts too are a thing of the past.
Bed - Heating blanket is a must in the cold/damp of fall and winter. It gently helps those stiff joints. I turn it on high an hour before bed and turn it off. My husband turns it back on in the morning so it helps my joints before I have to get up (he is up an hour earlier than I am).
Memory Foam Bed Topper - Wonderful for those who struggle sleeping with chronic pain. At a fraction of the cost of a memory foam mattress. It also holds the heat from the heating blanket nicely ;)
Bedside table - great for keeping medications and a glass of water handy.
Sleeping/Relaxing - I cannot recommend this free resource highly enough. I found this website years ago and still make use today. He has the most wonderful, soothing voice http://www.free-hypnosisdownloads.com/downloads/free-downloads-standard-members/relaxation.html give it a try the next time you are having trouble sleeping! Let me tell you that mans voice is something else ;)
Medications - Ask your pharmacy to provide you with Arthritis friendly medication lids or if you have children around keep the child proof lids but have someone with you when it is time to refill your medication organizer so they can open the lids. Weekly medication organizers. Due to the number of medications, vitamins and supplements I take the large ones work wonderfully. I can take out the medication holder for the day and not have to lug around the entire organizer. Great if you have a day of appointments etc. Using this system is also great for reminding when medications need to be re-ordered. I load mine Sunday evenings for the coming week so if there are any repeats that need ordering I can do that by phone once I am done. Purchase a small safe to keep medications locked up, safe from children.
Utensil Organizer - Get yourself a stove top organizer for cooking utensils. Saves you from having to open drawers that might be difficult with sore hands.
Dishwasher - If you are lucky enough to have one, use it your hands and feet will thank you!
Sweeping - If you have hardwood floors and pets this is something that you cannot get around doing! My husband recently purchased a swivel sweeper for us...works better, makes the job done faster and there is no bending over trying to get everything into the dust pan. Much better on my poor joints.
Scissors - Are my new must have. Scissors are used to open everything as I can no longer open packages by pulling them apart. Since just about everything comes prepackaged these days it is very helpful to keep scissors handy. I even keep a pair in the car.
What is in your toolkit?