Tools like a step stool, 360 wheel luggage, and a home grocery cart that make everyday life with RA easier.

Tips and Tools for Making RA Life Easier

Over the years, I have purchased, borrowed, and/or rented a variety of tools and devices to make life with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) go a little smoother. 

Some have been amazingly helpful; others, not so much. Many were worthless or not worth the price for what I got out of them. I want to mention a few here. 

I will say that what works (or not) for me may be entirely different than what works (or does not) for you. Please keep in mind that these are based on my experiences alone.

Kitchen tips and hacks

First of all, let’s tackle the kitchen. I do very little cooking as my hands tend to bother me with any type of repetitive fine motor activity. So, even prolonged stirring bothers me, let alone chopping or slicing anything. 

As a result, I tend to stick to very simple preparations. Even with that, though, there are some tips to be had. 

Ergonomic utensils

I use only ergonomic utensils that are lightweight and easy to use and clean. There are many on the market. 

I also have a wonderful jar opener that I could not live without. Make sure you get one that works on every size lid from a soda bottle to a wide mouth jar. 

Anything electric from can openers to my snazzy coffee maker and toaster is indispensable.

Keeping items within easy reach

When it comes to my kitchen layout, I make sure to have the items I need and use most often within easy reach. There are times when I cannot raise my arm to any degree if my shoulders are flaring, so I need to have items within easy reach.

Buying smaller-sized items

I also tend to buy small bottles, cartons, etc., so that lifting them does not require assistance from my husband too often. 

I keep a very small, lined container for my trash and recyclables so they never get too heavy to take out. It may mean more trips, but it saves on the arms and shoulders.

Shopping and running errands

When it comes to shopping, I have a cart that I keep in my car and I could not survive without it! 

I live in an apartment and so I use it more than any other tool to transport everything to and from my home.

I also would suggest using a purse that you can either use as a backpack or as a crossbody. Carrying a purse in the crook of your arm, by your hand, or on a shoulder are surefire ways to have pain later.

Reducing falls and other injuries

A step stool is my best friend too as I use it to get to things that are too high for me to reach. But, be sure you get one that is very stable and has sturdy steps and handles so you don’t fall

Speaking of falling: anywhere that I have rugs, I have these wonderful sticky corners on them to keep them adhered to the floor. It took me a while to find ones that not only work but are washable. I feel so much safer now!

An RA-friendly layout for your home

If you are looking for an apartment or home, I would strongly advise making sure the bathroom is safe for you. I have a walk-in shower and a tub with a rail and I would not live anywhere that did not have both of these features. 

If you are in the market for a new home

Also, steps became an enemy to me years ago and now we live on one floor and it is heaven. We also have no steps to get in or out of our building which is also tremendously helpful. 

This became particularly important as I had some surgeries that prohibited steps. Years ago, when I had foot surgery, it was a nightmare to get up and down my steps so we knew this time around that we wanted our living space to have no steps at all. I highly recommend this if you are in the market for a new place to live.

Travel and luggage tips

For travel, I use two small/medium bags or pieces of luggage, both with 360 wheels. 

By using two, I don’t fill either one to the point I cannot push or pull it. Having 360 wheels makes moving my luggage within an airport or other terminal so much easier! 

Also, I check my bags. I don’t care what it costs and I build it into my travel budget because not having to lug around those bags means a much more comfortable and pain-free trip. I only use a small carry-on for my medication, PJs, and one day’s change of clothes.

These tips just scratch the surface of what I have learned about living with RA, but they do offer some of the ones that I think are most essential to successfully managing RA.

Nan

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