- Begin by building more time into your schedule to prepare and eat meals. Make the kitchen or dining room a calm, low-stress environment by playing soft, relaxing music while you cook and eat.
- Do as much planning and preparation as possible while seated at the kitchen table or at a stool pulled up to a countertop. If your energy or medication’s effectiveness waxes and wanes, prepare meals when your energy level is high, and reheat food and serve it after you’ve had a chance to rest. When eating, sit close to the table and place all food and utensils within easy reach.
- Expect and encourage other family members to be part of meal preparation. It’s not anyone’s sole responsibility to make dinner; give others tasks to do and accept their participation, even if you could do it faster and better. As they get older, and with practice, children will learn how to fill the dishwasher correctly, wipe off the counters better and sweep the floor properly. Be patient with children and adults; they will improve.
Living With Arthritis
1 AnswerThe kitchen is often the busiest room in the house. It becomes a hotbed of activity when you’re preparing and eating meals. Organizing your kitchen is but one part of streamlining the everyday activities that take place in this room -- and meal planning, meal preparation, serving and eating a healthy diet are vitally important to people living with arthritis.
1 AnswerHere are some ways to make winter chores easier if you have arthritis.
- Use a plastic sled to slide trash cans to the curb. When snow and ice impede getting the trash out, try placing bags or cans on a plastic sled and pull that to the curb. The sled will slide easily on the snow cover.
- Spray snow shovels so snow won’t stick. To make snow shoveling easier, apply an aerosol vegetable spray or furniture polish to the shovel so that the snow will slide off more easily.
- Use an ergonomically designed shovel or snow scoop for less strain on hands or back. These can be purchased at most hardware stores.
1 AnswerRecycle plastic store bags as wastebasket liners. Put several empty grocery and discount store bags into the bottom of your wastebaskets, using one bag as the liner. When the liner bag is full, discard it and pull up another bag from the bottom of the wastebasket to use as the new liner. You’ll save steps and recycle at the same time.
Many cities now provide large, wheeled trash cans designed for automated pick-up. If the large can that was delivered is too hard for you to handle, call your municipality to see if there is a smaller option. Of course, the smaller cans may mean more trips to the curb; you will have to balance this against the weight of the larger can.
Use one wastebasket for recyclables and one for trash. Help family members remember which is which by keeping recyclables on the right -- it’s “right” to recycle.
1 AnswerHere are some tips to make gardening easier if you have arthritis:
- Protect your hands while gardening by purchasing gardening gloves that are one or two sizes too large. Then stuff foam or sponge-type padding in and around your fingers. When handling thorny plants, you might try using a quilted oven mitt.
- Plant seeds without bending. One way to avoid bending while planting is to use a PVC pipe to guide seeds into the soil. Start with a three-and-a-half-foot section of one- or two-inch diameter pipe. Cut one end on the diagonal. Keeping the diagonally cut end of the pipe touching the ground, drop seeds down the pipe where you want the plants to grow. Cover the seeds using the end of the pipe or by dropping soil down the pipe. Another option is to fill a salt shaker or spice bottle that has a shaker top with seeds. After preparing the soil, simply shake the bottle over the areas you want to plant.
- Sit on a stool or chair to work in the garden or flower bed and use well-made child-size rakes or shovels to work the soil. Some stools have wheels and storage compartments.
- Mark your trowel for easy planting. When planting bulbs or other plants that need to be planted at a specific depth, purchase a trowel with pre-marked measurements or mark inches on your own tool with red nail polish. The markings will make it easier to dig to the proper depth.
- Pull weeds when the ground is moist. Do your work after a rain, in the morning when the ground is still wet with dew or after lightly moistening the ground with a garden hose. If you need a little extra help dislodging the roots, try an apple corer. Or, you might consider purchasing a long-handled weeding tool from a nursery or garden shop, so that you can weed without bending.
1 AnswerHang planters from a pulley rather than a hook. For easy watering of hanging planters, attach a rope to the hanger on the plant, thread the rope through the pulley and pull the plant up. Tie the rope “figure-eight” style on two nails on the wall near the plant.
1 AnswerIf you love the idea of homegrown vegetables but your body just won’t allow you to get down and dirty anymore, try these alternatives:
- Garden in raised beds. If getting up and down is a challenge, try cultivating a raised garden bed. Build the flower bed out of lumber so that it is raised to about 34 inches or another comfortable height, fill with dirt and plant. The raised bed wall makes a great place to sit while you tend your plantings, too. Be sure not to make the bed too wide to reach across.
- Plant a trellis or container garden. Plant a few of your favorite things in a trellis or container garden. Choose a location on a low window ledge, balcony, walkway or patio that is easy to reach and near a water supply. Plant in appropriate containers -- clay pots are porous and allow excess water and salt to escape, yet you can place them inside more decorative pots, such as barrels, bushel baskets, window boxes or hanging pots. Put the containers where you want them before you fill them with dirt; after filling, they will be too heavy to move. Most container-grown plants need to be watered more often than plants grown in the ground, so you might want to use self-watering pots or add moisture-absorbing pellets to reduce the need for watering. Check with your local green house, nursery or garden center for more tips.
- Garden indoors. A sunny, south-facing window (or a shady spot supplemented with grow lights) can easily yield fresh healthy ingredients even in the dead of winter. Herbs in colorful containers can decorate a windowsill. An aquarium can act as a mini greenhouse, enveloping your plants in humidity and keeping watering chores to a minimum. You may be amazed at the multitude of edible plants, even citrus fruit, that can be grown indoors. Check with your local greenhouse or grower for the best varieties for indoor cultivation.
- Plant preseeded “flower carpets.” If you want the beauty of flowers in your yard without a lot of work, try planting a “flower carpet.” The seeds are embedded into a nutrient rich “carpet” that you just roll out onto soil loosened to a depth of three to four inches and raked smooth. Cover with an eighth-inch of soil to guard against strong winds, soak with a fine mist until saturated and water daily until plants are three to four inches tall. For best results, purchase these preseeded carpets at nurseries, greenhouses and garden mail-order companies.
1 AnswerClip lawn or leaf bags to a fence with clothespins to make them easier to fill. If the bags must stand alone, brace the bag upright and open by first filling a paper grocery bag with some of the lawn clippings; insert the partially filled grocery bag into the larger bag, and the lawn bag will be propped open. You might also stretch the leaf bag over a trash can to keep it open and accessible; use one with wheels and it will be easier to move to your compost pile or yard waste collection site.
1 AnswerHere are some tips for making it easier to store and use tools if you have arthritis.
- Store tools on a pegboard and use a marking pen to outline the space for each tool. Tools are at eye level, easy to reach and you can tell at a glance if a tool is missing.
- Purchase a foam kneeling pad (check the garden section) to cushion your knees or use a partially filled hot water bottle to kneel on when washing floors or working in the garden.
- Create a soft-grip on tool handles by wrapping with foam pipe insulation. Foam tubing is available in a variety of diameters. It’s slit on one side so it’s easy to install on the handles of household and outdoor tools like brooms, shovels, rakes and mops. For indoor tools, keep the tubing in place with rubber bands or duct tape. For outdoor tools, wrap the handles with brightly colored electrical tape, so the tools are easier to find in the grass. You can find foam tubing at most hardware stores.
- Add ergonomic handles to long-handled home and garden tools. Make it easier to grip and use brooms, shovels, rakes and other tools without pain by adding ergonomic D- and T-grips midway up long handles. Ask about them at hardware, garden or home improvement stores.
- Keep nails handy when you’re doing odd jobs around the house. Wind a rubber band around the handle of your hammer close to the head and slip a few nails under the band, where they will be within easy reach when you need them.
- Mark the wall with moisture, to hang a picture and get in the right spot the first time. Mark the spot on the wall with a moistened finger or sponge. Then, quickly hammer the nail in place before the area dries.
- Use a magnetic screwdriver to help you hold screws in place. Touch the screw to the tool, and the magnetic field will hold it in place as you work -- much easier than gripping a tiny screw and controlling the screwdriver at the same time. Be sure to keep magnetic tools away from your home computer and electronic media or your data may be scrambled.
- Use forearms for lifting heavy items. If you must lift and move large, unwieldy or heavy items, lifting straps will help you to lift and carry with less stress on your body. Available at hardware or moving stores.
1 AnswerChange outdoor lights all at the same time. Rather than getting out that heavy ladder and changing outdoor lightbulbs when they burn out (usually at the most inopportune time or during inclement weather) change all your outdoor lights at one time and then annually thereafter. A good way to remember when to change the bulbs is to associate it with an annual date, like your birthday, anniversary, a holiday or when you change the clocks ahead in the fall.
1 AnswerRealAge answered
Because there are many ways to reduce the pain and impairment caused by osteoarthritis -- and perhaps even slow its progression -- it is important to know about the nature of the disease and what can be done about it. Claims that pain can be reduced and disability decreased merely by participating in education programs may be premature.
However, one study has found that patients with arthritis who were randomly assigned to a self-help education program had significantly more knowledge, used recommended behaviors, and experienced less pain immediately following the program, 20 months later, and 4 years later, than the control group.
The Arthritis Foundation sponsors an Arthritis Self-Help Course that has helped participants reduce joint pain by almost 20% and the need for physician visits. The course teaches proper use of exercise, medications, and other pain management techniques.