If you or someone you know has arthritis, the pain, stiffness and swelling can make everyday tasks and navigating the home a challenge. Making adjustments to your home can make the environment more arthritis-friendly to help soothe any aches and pains and make your space safer.
In this article, we will share some of the best ways to adapt your home for safety and comfort.
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- How to adapt your living room for arthritis
- How to adapt your kitchen for arthritis
- How to convert your bathroom to a mobility bathroom
- Incorporate these arthritis aids into your home
How to adapt your living room for arthritis
If mobility is an issue for you, changing the layout of your living space can make your life dramatically easier:
- Upgrade to sturdier furniture that has high backs and arms, so you can lean on them for support when you are moving around the living room.
- Install handrails and other arthritis aids for any level changes to help you manoeuvre from one space to another while putting as little pressure as possible on your joints.
- Keep floors clutter-free without any cables or objects in areas you could trip over them or have to step over.
- Place your daily essentials within easy reach.
- Purchase heavier chairs and furniture to ensure they are sturdier on the ground and will not topple over easily (stick to low cupboards and drawers to reduce the risk of injury should they fall).
- Reduce clutter and create more space in between furniture to prevent the risks of trips and falls.
How to adapt your kitchen for arthritis
You will probably use items in your kitchen multiple times a day, and you can make your life easier by placing objects within easy-to-reach areas.
- Consider lowering cupboards so you do not have to stretch up to reach items.
- Only fill your cupboards and fridge/freezer with essentials. The fewer food items you have, the less you need to stretch and move things around to reach what you need.
- Purchase ergonomically designed kitchen tools that specifically suit people with arthritis—such as knives—to limit strain on your joints.
- Replace heavy cookware with lighter alternatives for less weight to lift.
- Keep appliances within reach on the counter to prevent you from bending, reaching or stretching into cabinets.
- Buy pre-chopped fruit and vegetables to limit the use of knives for less strain on your wrists. Alternatively, invest in a food processor to chop ingredients for you.
- Purchase electric kitchen tools, such as a tin opener, to reduce how much physical work is required of you.
- Switch to smaller, lighter items that are easier to lift and open (such as washing powder).
- Consider the material and design of food packets (for example, plastic packages require wrist strength to pull open compared to cardboard).
- Invest in a trolley to transport food from the kitchen to the dining room without having to grip plates and mugs.
- Choose mugs with two handles, making it easier to grip for even weight distribution.
- Purchase a washing-up bowl with a drainer built in, so you can empty the water out of the bowl without having to lift it.
- Consider handheld electric tools, as they are less cumbersome to operate and move.
- Ring-pull tins are much easier to open and do not require a tin opener.
- Kettle tippers allow you to pour hot water into a mug without picking up the appliance.
- Have a kitchen stool to hand, so you can rest if you are preparing food in the kitchen for extended periods.
- Upgrade utensils to ones made out of silicone and with thick grips as it is lightweight and easy to handle for those with joint arthritis mainly found in their hands and wrist.
- Faucet grips make it easier to turn on the water without requiring much physical strength.
How to convert your bathroom to a mobility bathroom
Bathrooms can be a dangerous place for anyone (have you ever nearly slipped in the shower or bath?). But if you or someone you love has arthritis, this room may require an update to make items easily accessible and improve safety.
- Use a seat in the shower and install handrails for you to grip onto, making bathroom daily routines manageable for those with rheumatoid arthritis.
- Keep non-slip mats by the toilet, shower/bath and sink to soak up any water splashes immediately.
- Install holders in the shower at the right height to prevent you from bending over or stretching to reach toiletries.
- Consider soap rather than bottled toiletries. Plastic bottles require twisting/flipping the lid to open and close them, whereas soap is more accessible and lighter.
- Purchase a highboy toilet seat if bending down causes too much pain/pressure.
- Use a towel warmer to keep your body warm as you get out of the shower. Extreme temperature fluctuations can put stress on the joints.
- Swap out round knobs on doors for flat handles, as they are easier to push open if you have arthritis in your hands or wrists.
- Upgrade to hands-free dispensers to wash your hands and body, eliminating the need to pick up heavy bottles and twist open caps or press pumps.
- Use a long-handled brush in the shower rather than a loofah to make it easier to clean your body without stretching or twisting.
- An electric toothbrush is easier on the wrists than a manual toothbrush.
Make adjustments to your bathroom routine
Consider these modifications to your bathroom routine, so you are more comfortable when bathing.
- Use dry shampoo instead of shampooing/conditioning your hair as often to save yourself the time and pain involved with cleaning your hair.
- Take your time when bathing, particularly when moving around in the shower/ bath, if your arthritis is painful. Spend extra time soaking your joints for more time to help reduce any soreness.
- Bathe when someone’s present in your home so, in the event that you fall or need assistance, someone is there to help.
- Keep medications and a first aid kit nearby and easy to access daily or in the event of an emergency.
Incorporate these arthritis aids into your home
Your home is your haven, and these tips can help to make your space more arthritis-friendly.
A warm, dry environment will not aggravate arthritis like a cold, damp space will. Most people with arthritis find that damp, cold environments make symptoms worse.
- Increase the temperature on the thermostat to higher than you would usually have it, especially in winter, to prevent temperature fluctuations.
- Aim to keep a consistent temperature throughout the home, as moving from a warm room into a cold bathroom can antagonise arthritis.
Make lighting and heating units more accessible
Lighting and heating controls should be easily accessible to prevent you from straining yourself to reach/operate the systems.
- Position the switches/controls at a height that is easy to reach without stretching.
- Raise/lower sockets so you do not need to bend down or stretch to switch them on/off.
- Consider touch-sensitive or motion-sensitive lights.
- Install motion-sensitive lighting in the landing, hallway and on stairs, enabling you to see easily when it is dark.
Ease arthritis by making the above adjustments to your home. Consider renewing furniture and everyday items with more ergonomic alternatives to eliminate as much strain as possible on your joints. We also suggest upgrades, so toiletries and daily necessities are more accessible with as little pressure as possible on your body.