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RA and housing adaptations

Housing Adaptations And RA

RA, as a systemic disease, can affect your entire body. Similarly, the realities of RA can have an impact on your entire life, and this includes the way you keep house.

This post goes room-by-room and hopefully provides useful tips on how to make your living space more RA-friendly.

Kitchen/ Dining Room

If you have problems with mobility, you may want to adapt your kitchen so that you don’t have to bend down or reach above your head a lot. This may mean taking up some of your counter space with the items and tools that you use the most.

The Arthritis Foundation Ease Of Use provides a list of products that have been deemed RA-friendly. OXO Good Grip is also known for their arthritis-friendly kitchen tools, so if you can afford to spend a little bit more on kitchen tools, OXO is a good bet.

In general, though, kitchen tools that have grips and aren’t too heavy, can be helpful, regardless of the brand. You may also want to invest in eating utensils that you are able to grip and hold comfortably, without pain.

Another thing to think about is having a stash of plastic containers so that you can make meals ahead of time and freeze, so that on days you aren’t feeling well enough to cook, all you have to do is take frozen meals out of the freezer and heat them up, either in the oven, on the stove, or in the microwave.

Also, stock your freezer with ice packs that you can easily pull out and use if they help you with pain.

If you have space where you are living for a dining table or dining room, make sure that you have a comfortable chair or a cushion that you can sit on, and that the table is at the right height for you.

Living Room

In your living room, it’s important to have furniture that is comfortable and is at the correct height so that you can sit down easily. You might want to invest in an oversized chair, or a couch or a futon that is big enough for you to lie down on. You might end up spending a lot more time on the couch than you might expect.


If you have the space for a desk or an office, you are going to want to make sure that, that space is as ergonomic as possible. In order words, make sure you have a comfortable chair, and that both the desk and the chair are set to a height that is comfortable for you.

If you use the computer a lot, like me, make sure that you have a keyboard and mouse pad that are cushioned, and situated in a way that doesn’t put undue hardship on your hands and wrists. Or have a laptop that is light and easy to pickup and transport.


In terms of your bedroom, make sure that you have a comfortable mattress and pillows. Make sure that your bed is not too high or two low, and that you are able to get in and out of it easily.

If you end up spending a lot of time in your bedroom, it might raise your spirits to have colorful and fun bedding, and cute pajamas that make you feel good.

If your bedroom gets a lot of sun, blackout shades might be really helpful in blocking out light, both if you are napping during the day, and so you can make sure you get a full night sleep.


If you have issues with bending down and standing up, you might want to get a toilet seat that’s height is adjustable. You may also need to place bars or a seat in your bathtub or shower in order to make sure that you don’t slip and fall. You can also get grips for the bottom of your tub or shower.

If you have further issues, you may want to invest in a bath and shower system that you can simply walk in and out of, and do not need to get down or up to get in and out of.

As a side note, many medications say that they should not be exposed to light, heat, or water, so I would suggest that you get some sort of medication organizer, and that you keep it, along with your prescription bottles, either in your kitchen or bedroom. Also make sure that you are keeping them in a location that makes it easy for you to remember to take them.

More from the Community: Tips on Managing Chores & Errands with RA

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator
    2 years ago

    The house I grew up in had an open floor plan. The only walls were around the bedrooms and bathrooms. The architect of the house’s daughter was in a wheelchair! We never thought I would also have mobility issues but just fell in love with the design. RA or not, I will always prefer an open design with no windows.

    In the house we moved into, we made sure there were walk-in showers, intended more to ease dog baths but it turned out I needed them too, they also have a little shelf I can sit on when I can’t stand long enough for a shower.

    I loved all the tips in this article!!

  • Indigo2
    2 years ago

    Regarding the kitchen, when we remodeled I chose to place drawers instead of cabinets & this has worked out great! You can add roll outs in existing cabinets. I use baskets in my pantry to keep supplies in; easier to handle.

  • Indigo2
    2 years ago

    Great ideas! thanks

  • mcadwell
    2 years ago

    From this website I made a halter that goes through the holes in my laundry basket so I can use both hands to use stair railings. I used wide velvet ribbon trim I had left over from my sewing days (the velvet helps to keep it from slipping off). It really helps except on those days where any pressure on the tops of my shoulders are just unbearable.

    I now use a mandolin instead of a knife to cut vegetables. It’s easier to use than a chopper.
    I purchased mixing bowls with silicone on the bottom so they don’t slide around on my countertop.
    Rearranged my pantry so the things I used the most are within arms reach.
    Installed pull out baskets in my lower cabinets. It’s easier to roll them out instead of sitting on the floor to get anything…then trying to stand back up again.
    I put my bar of soap in a leg of panty hose and knotted the end. This I hang in the shower. It prevents my dropping the soap then trying to pick it up off the floor of the tub.

  • Indigo2
    2 years ago

    good ideas, thanks!

  • LibbyRa
    3 years ago

    KristenReed….would you mind sharing the cost factor of your grandfather’s walk-in tub? The one we’re looking at is $8900, but it has a life-time guarantee and this includes the installation and getting rid of the current tub etc. I didn’t think it sounded way out of line but I haven’t looked too far yet to compare prices.

  • Indigo2
    2 years ago

    Kolher will give you a quote for free, I have not called them yet but think it is a good idea to check several dealers for prices. I like the site: Signature Hardware

  • KristenReed
    3 years ago

    Thanks for the informative descriptions!
    Yes, I agree with all your points.
    My grandfather was dealing mobility issues. Bending down, standing up and lifting his legs in the bathroom were very difficult for him. The doctor suggested the best ways get rid of this solution is to install a walk-in bathtub in his bathroom, which will make it easy for him to safely enter and come out from the tub. So, by getting in contact with the supplier for a walk in tubs Seattle(, the supplier installed a walk-in bathtub in his bathroom with the extra features of hydrotherapy that will help in relieving pain.

  • Tich
    4 years ago

    I would like to see a follow-on piece which might explore design innovation for future homes of those afflicted with RA. You might look at efforts going forward in the new Toyota robotics research facility in Dallas; it’s all about automating mobility.

  • jan curtice
    4 years ago

    Nice tips! Here are some others I’ve found helpful. Electrical sockets at waist level rather than close to the floor. If you are one of the many who need to sleep with an elevated head position, try putting bricks under the feet of the front legs of the bed/headboard instead of sleeping on a wedge … much more comfortable and you can sleep in any position! Allow plenty of clearance around the furniture. It’s amazing how much our mobility bubble increases with RA. This helps avoid bumps, bruises, and falls. Cut your food up with scissors (fiskars are best) instead of a knife. These are so much easier on the joints. I carry a medium-sized pair with me so I will have them when I go to eat. Of course, you can also request your food be brought out to you cut-up as well. Thanks for sharing the tips … it’s the little things that make the difference between a good day and a challenging one. =^^=

  • Anita
    5 years ago

    Great tips! Make sure, too, if you use a computer that the monitor or screen is at a height that you can view comfortably without straining your neck.

    On big thing I can suggest is to check with your state’s department of Health and Human Service, since many have programs that offer grants or low-cost loans for doing handicap improvements to your house. I’m looking at getting one that will pay for a bathroom remodel and a “granny glider” stair lift thing, since my house is a split-entry with no way to avoid stairs.

    Someone also recommended to me to check out Craigslist and other online sales venues like Ebay to pick up mobility equipment, since many people sell it when an elderly relative passes on. I’m looking forward to getting my house in shape to make life a bit easier, since it’s hard enough dealing with RA.

  • Leslie Rott moderator author
    5 years ago

    Good tips! Thanks for sharing.

  • JoAnn Clarke
    5 years ago

    My #1 piece of furniture is the “recliner”- whenever my shoulder flares- it is impossible to lay prone on the bed to sleep-or when my knee or hip flares- I go to my all time standby-the recliner. Mine also has a “heat” function–I have spent, many, many, hours and yes- I am in it now- legs raised- with my laptop:-)

  • Indigo2
    2 years ago

    I agree with you, a recliner is the best tool!

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