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Community tips on chores and errands

Community Tips on Chores & Errands

Daily life with rheumatoid arthritis can pose challenges one might never expect – including tasks that can easily get taken for granted! Household chores and errands rank highly in this category. Fortunately, we have a whole community we can turn to for tools, strategies, and tips! We asked our Facebook Community for ideas on making household tasks and/or errands more manageable with RA. Here is what our community had to say:

I find online resources to be very useful…

  • I love the Wunderlist app for my phone, I can list all the things that need to be tended to and then go to my lists and weigh how I feel with what item I feel like I can accomplish without paying for it later in pain.
  • I go on Google & All to find recipes & tweak them to what we like.
  • I swear by FLYLADY.NET. That site changed my life. It helped me learn how to break every project into manageable, smaller pieces. It has very practical routines and suggested rotation of different areas of the house.

Making lists helps me…

  • I make a list of all things I need to get done and break them into small manageable chunks.
  • I try to do one thing before I leave for work and one when I get home. I don’t kill myself if I don’t get it done. I cut myself some slack.
  • I’m OCD, so I have lists for EVERYTHING, including lists for my lists. Haha. But since all of this started, I always make sure to focus on the 2 most important rooms in the house that absolutely must stay clean and sanitary – the kitchen and bathroom.
  • Lists lists lists! Small tasks at a time! Don’t sweat the small stuff!

I use particular strategies/tools for particular tasks…

When doing laundry…

  • I break my laundry down in sections and I enjoy folding and sorting out the clothes on my bed. I take breaks in between.

Around the house…

  • Usually I use Clorox wipes and try to do a little bit every day.
  • For sixteen dollars at the cheap shop I bought a “grandmas shopping trolley” (made of light weight material) and use it to move most every thing.
  • I have an old office chair I scoot around on.
  • I purchased “The Grabber,” for reaching up & down for things, I can put a microfiber cloth on it for windows, etc.
  • Lite gloves for typing, styles with soft grip ($6 on Amazon).
  • To take the trash out, try using a trash can or cart with large wheels
  • Music helps get it done

For running errands…

  • I use a roll-along suit case to carry my purse, my cardigan/wrap, my hair brush and other items that I need each day when I run errands.
  • I use a motorized cart (theirs) and shop a little at a time.
  • I shop in bulk and freeze portions for two. I also buy household supplies this way and it cuts down on trips to the store.
  • In my area grocery shopping & home delivery is available for a $10.00 fee!!!
  • I shop & pay bills online, use pick up/delivery services, (dry cleaners, water, etc.), and the drive thru pharmacy when at all possible.
  • At some stores you can call ahead & they will bring electric cart out to you!

In the kitchen…

  • I usually start with doing the dishes so the hot water helps sooth my hands enough to do everything else.
  • I have a height adjustable wheeled office chair in my kitchen.
  • I love OXO Good Grips line of kitchen aids!! They make cooking so much easier!!
  • Make your crockpot your new best friend.
  • Pre-peeled & pre-cut meats/chicken, fruits & veggies, shop in the deli section for ready made items, frozen yeast bread/rolls dough, boxed soup mixes, single serving sized items (such as entrees for bad hands days or when it’s just me), etc.
  • My favorite kitchen aid is my Zyliss peeler.
  • A simple thing is to pour the pancake mix into egg rings making them easier to get out of the pan with minimum use of the egg slice.
  • Always cook double quantity and freeze some… just as easy to prepare a bit more for later.
  • I prep lunch/dinner while making breakfast.
  • I use a push button can opener and jar opener… no stress on the hands and wrists.
  • I use the long handled sponge thingy for tall cups. Glass is too heavy to hold so I switched to Tervis Tumblers
  • I use a jar gripper for turning faucets on & off. My new best friend!
  • I’ve gotten some specialty items to help out, food processor, (chops, slices & blends), electric mixer & can opener, Ninja cooker, larger handled scissors, cooking utensils & cleaning brushes, dish mop (also the extended length ones).
  • If I can (especially if there’s offers on) I buy ready prepared vegetables or use frozen ones.
  • If the pans or casserole aren’t easy to clean I put hot water and soap in them and leave them soak overnight, and in the morning I am able to clean it.

For the bathroom…

  • A broom with comet for the tub…cleans the broom too!
  • I try every time I shower to wipe down as much as I can while I’m in there.
  • I have a sponge mop just for cleaning the tub and shower walls. No bending and stretching needed.
  • About once a week, I’ll wipe the sinks, counters, toilet, etc. down with 2 sponges (1 for the bathroom, 1 for the kitchen) with Clorox cleaning spray.

For the floors…

  • The shark vac steamer helps with floors because you don’t have to worry about managing buckets of water or cleaning mops.
  • I use a lightweight vacuum, Swiffer – all the tools are lightweight!
  • I’ve discovered that wood and tile floors are easier to take care of than carpets.
  • I vacuum sitting down.

I don’t really focus on it…

  • I just focus on going to work. My husband is understanding and isn’t bothered if the house isn’t clean. I’m lucky that way.
  • I have so much fatigue, my house has gone undone. I say to myself, I’ll get to it when I’m feeling better.
  • I am so tired and on such a restricted diet that I sometimes can’t even get dressed.

Support from others (paid or voluntary) can be extremely helpful…

  • I have the attendant wash my laundry. It’s more expensive but less tiring.
  • Everyone cleans as we go, so on Saturdays when we do the major clean it isn’t too bad.
  • If you can afford it, get a cleaning service to come in once a week.
  • An occupational therapist can help with energy saving tips and tools. Medicare usually covers it.
  • We downsized to a considerably smaller home.
  • My daughter & granddaughter help me cook, lifting & bending, vacuum, mop & do laundry for me.
  • I try to let the family know I need help with something.

I try to be realistic and take it as easy as I can…

  • There are things that I can do even when I’m feeling crappy, to things I need to wait to do for a good day. This way I always feel like I’m being productive.
  • I pace myself and schedule breaks into whatever I’m doing.
  • I put no demands on my day, unless I have to go out. Be nice to yourself!
  • My philosophy is, if I was to drop dead right now, and there were jobs not done… Who would care?? So do what can be achieved and the rest will still be there when I feel better.
  • Basically you might have to lower your expectations of yourself & your standards. I’m OCD & I’ve had to learn to chill.
  • I’ve learned to listen to my body. If it says “enough” then I stop or risk a flare up.
  • I don’t get a lot done at any one time, but it adds up.
  • I do what I can. It’s all about finding what’s best for you.

What about you? What are your tips and tricks for making household chores/errands more manageable with RA?


  • Indigo2
    2 years ago

    I love Swiffer,,,great for kitchen & bathroom floors
    I use a light vacuum…Dyson,
    portable & so light!

  • Kathy P.
    5 years ago

    Electric can opener that handles “poptops” too. An electric sonic toothbrush has a built up handle and does the brushing for you so you only have to guide it. Large paper clips or suede ties with long ties added to zippers.

    A product called Sugru for adding soft washable grip to things that are too slick to hold onto (think forks, knife handles, bottles, hand tools), or to make custom “handles”. For example, you can attach a short length of dowel rod to your car key so you can have more leverage with your whole hand to turn a key, rather than just your fingers. Along that same line, VetRap to build up and cushion handles of hand tools, garden tools, chair arms, cane handles, etc. Padded gel bicycle gloves are great for driving or when you have to use hand tools. I get the ones that don’t fully enclose the fingers so I have tactility.

    Memory foam chair cushions help immensely for hard wooden chairs, stadium seating or restaurant seating. Get a purse that has an adjustable strap so you can sling it across your body, which simplifies shopping. I use a larger bag for airplane trips, which allows me to carry my tablet, purse and a jacket, distributing the weight over a larger area and freeing my hands for using my cane.

    Ninjas and a good food processor are lifesavers in a kitchen. Between the two types and a bit of practice, I can do almost anything I used to do with a knife. A food processor will also knead dough so basically all you have to do is shape it. Lightweight aluminum pans with nonstick ceramic coatings make it possible for me to handle most cooking chores without help.

    A good TENS unit, portable or otherwise. My daughter did research to come up with a good consumer version. It doesn’t fix anything, but it does interrupt the pain circuit and brings the pain down a level or two. It doesn’t work for everyone, but at less than $50, it’s cheaper than a lot of medicines and worth a shot.

  • Indigo2
    2 years ago

    I love TENS…they are now available on Amazon or at the local pharmacy, like Walgreens

  • Pat
    5 years ago

    I found a spray cleaner bottle that was powered by batteries a couple of years ago, it was a national brand. Refilling the bottle is a pain, they were plainly intended to be toss and buy another bottle, but I figured it out. My shower has a huge expanse of glass door and squirt bottles really aggravate my hands. This is a godsend for me. I haven’t seen them in the stores lately, even the refills, other than in the pesticide dept at the big box store.
    To clean glass, I put a few drops of Dawn, a half teaspoon of Jet Dry liquid and fill the bottle with distilled water. Spray the inside of your shower, let it set for a while, then I usually save it to the last chore, then I’ll jump in to shower myself. Spray the glass and walls down. The jet dry sheets the water off and usually dries spot free.
    Another thing that helps is a robot vacuum cleaner. My house has no carpet other than area rugs, but we do have dogs. Vacuuming is the best way to get the dog hair up and takes way less time than a broom

  • Detje Bea
    5 years ago

    thanks for this. It is very helpful.

  • GailP
    4 years ago

    I have acquired two items recently which have really helped with meal prep. One, is a cookbook called ‘Sheet Pan Suppers’. A whole book of complete meals cooked on a sheetpan. I can assemble a meal early, then go and have a rest. Then just slide it in the oven when mealtime comes around (of course, some things may need to be refrigerated). The second thing is a rice cooker called ‘time machine’ by 3squares. It also is a veg steamer and slow cooker. Again, it makes it easy to prep in advance and the process times itself and turns on and off.

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