Living With Arthritis

Living With Arthritis

Living With Arthritis
When living with arthritis, daily activities like opening doors, climbing stairs and even getting out of bed can be difficult and painful due to joint inflammation. Exercise reduces pain and disability, partly because it stimulates the production of synovial fluid that lubricates the joints. Regular daily exercise also helps maintain a healthy weight and improve overall muscle tone and balance, both which lessen strain on the joints.

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    A , Neurology, answered
    Shopping can leave you weary when you have arthritis, so don’t do it any more often than necessary. Stock up on nonperishable items; buy in bulk every month or two at direct warehouse stores like Sam’s Club, Costco and Walmart. Even local grocery stores are an option; ask about the price of case lots of frequently used nonperishable items; doing so may save you considerable time, energy and money.

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    Reachers allow you to pick up things off the floor without bending or to reach items on higher shelves while seated. They come in various lengths, weights and means of operation.
    • Trigger grip reachers have a hand grip shaped similar to a pistol that can be operated by squeezing your finger.
    • Full-grasp handgrip reachers allow you to squeeze with all your fingers.
    • A locking mechanism reacher enables you to hold an object tightly without continuing to grasp the handle tightly.
    • Sticky pads or magnets at the ends of some reachers help with picking up lightweight or metal objects.
    • Rubber grippers or vinyl-covered tips give better holding power.
    • Battery-operated reachers automatically open and close gripping jaws with a light push on a rocker switch.
    • Folding reachers fold in half for traveling or storage, and some come with carrying attachments that clamp the reacher to walkers and wheelchairs.
    Your local arthritis chapter or human services agency may help you to locate a resource (independent living center, support group, home health agency or drug store) that can help you find the style that would be most helpful for you.

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    These ideas will make your kitchen more accessible and better organized.
    • Store items near the places where they’re used, to save time and energy in the kitchen. Keep one set of measuring cups and spoons with the silverware and another near the stove. Keep coffee mugs near the coffee pot. Keep a measuring cup inside your flour or sugar canisters. Store microwave supplies, including microwave-safe containers and dye-free paper towels, in a
    • cupboard close by.
    • Store spices alphabetically in a drawer or spice rack; spices will be easier to find and use than in a high cupboard. To maintain freshness, keep them away from a heat source like the stove or refrigerator.
    • Remove the magnetic door catches on difficult-to-open cabinet doors. Install easy-to-grasp hardware, like U-shaped handles, on the outside of cabinets. If doors are too hard to use, remove them; if you do not want to see what is inside, hang fabric curtains over the opening. Check building supply stores for handles that work best for you.
    • Store flour, sugar and coffee in lightweight containers with handles and easy-to-remove lids. Keep them on the counter to avoid having to reach for and lift heavy containers, and keep a measuring cup inside, where it is handy and easy to use.
    • Store cheeses and lunch meats together, so that all the fixings for a sandwich are in one container or bag. If you do not want the meat to touch the cheese, use a divided storage container or two individual plastic bags that you can put together in one.
    • Roll bottles and jars on the countertop, instead of shaking them to mix ingredients. It is easier on the hands.
    • Freeze leftovers as complete dinners. Put serving-size portions of leftover food on a microwaveable plate and cover first with plastic wrap and then with aluminum foil and freeze. (The double wrap will help keep the food from becoming freezer burned.) When you’re ready to eat, remove the wrappings, cover with another microwaveable plate and reheat the meal in the microwave. If you don’t have or prefer not to use a microwave, conserve energy and save on clean-up time by heating small amounts of leftovers, wrapped in single-serving aluminum foil packages, side-by-side in a covered frying pan containing an inch of water. Only one pan to wash!

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    Use a wheeled cart. Tea and utility carts, collapsible luggage carriers and wheeled laundry carts all allow you to move heavy loads without carrying them. If you load a tea or utility cart with dishes, glasses and silverware, you can set or clear the table in just one trip.

    Consider using a cart to move cleaning supplies or heavy items from room to room or to move groceries from the car to the house. Collapsible box-style carts may be stored in the trunk of your car for use whenever you need a little extra help carrying things -- at the grocery store, mall or other locations.

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    If moving in the early morning is hard, add bedrails made for young children (available in bedding or baby/toddler stores) to the side of the bed. The rail may give you better leverage and support when you try to stand up.

    If getting up and down is difficult, consider an electric bed that will help you rise and recline. Separate head and foot controls allow you to find the best and most comfortable position for you.

    If turning over or changing sleeping positions in bed is difficult, push the side of the bed up against the bedroom wall and install a railing or grab bars at a height that makes turning easier. (Be sure to anchor the railing to a stud.)
     

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    Hang 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.
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    If you already have arthritis, exercise will reduce the pain and disability, partly because it stimulates the production of synovial fluid that lubricates the joints. There's another good reason to stay active! When you have arthritis, you will have less pain if you move your joints frequently; if you are sedentary, your joints will become stiff and even more painful. You may need to switch to forms of exercise that are easier on the joints, such as swimming or bike riding. Regular daily exercise is also recommended in arthritis because it improves overall muscle tone and balance and thus helps remove strain on the joints.

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    Remove throw rugs to help prevent trips and falls. This will make navigating easier if you have trouble walking or use walkers, canes and wheelchairs. If you must use a throw rug, purchase thin, rubber-backed entry door carpets or keep the rug from lifting or moving on the floor with a rubber mat (sold in carpet stores) or double-faced tape.

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    Whether you’ve had arthritis for years or you’ve just been diagnosed, here are ideas for coping with the changes caused by your condition.
    • Adapt to changes. Receiving a diagnosis can be distressing, and adjusting to the effects of the disease can be challenging, but you can still lead a remarkably unlimited life if you put your mind to it. By adapting your routine, making your home more accessible and keeping a positive outlook, you have the power to take control of your life and rise above the challenges you face.
    • Go with the flow. The course of arthritis is unpredictable, and it can affect your life in many ways. It can be as simple as morning stiffness that dissipates with a hot shower, or it can be a painful and disabling condition that restricts your ability to do simple, everyday activities. Some days it’s easy to cope with the challenges; other days, it would be easier to give up and throw in the towel. There is no doubt about it -- living with a chronic illness is difficult, but allow yourself to go with the flow of your illness. Getting angry or upset only makes matters worse.
    • Make the most of your life. Living with a chronic illness like arthritis often takes people on a journey they never planned on. Simple tasks like buttoning a shirt, opening a jar or climbing stairs require more thought and planning, and “normal” activities, like walking, exercising, driving and working present daily reminders of how life has changed. Admit your limitations, and then find a way to work around them. The sooner you can accept whatever changes come your way and find a way to live with them instead of fight against them, the happier and healthier you will be.

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    To get an easier grip on cooking, replace old potato peelers, spatulas, whisks and others with modern gadgets that have large, cushioned handle grips. OXO International kitchen products, sold in the kitchen, garden and housewares sections of department and grocery stores, include a number of specialty and hard-to-find cooking utensils (cookie scoop, spice grinders) and other easy-grip products and tools for home and garden.

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