Best cheap home/Apartment safety upgrades and improvements
Affordable Home Safety Upgrades for People With Rheumatoid Arthritis
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Tasks of daily living can be difficult to accomplish when you have joint swelling, pain, stiffness, or other symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Climbing the stairs, opening a jar, and pulling on your pajama bottoms aren’t the kind of movements you take for granted anymore, especially during an RA flare.
Add in the fatigue that often comes along with RA, and it’s no wonder that getting simple things done can seem so hard, says Kristin Malone, OT, an occupational therapist in Lockport Illinois.
Falling is also a risk with RA. According to a review published in February 2015 inSeminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism, the risk of falling and hurting yourself with RA is generally higher if you have tender or swollen joints (especially in the lower extremities), poor balance, intense pain, low energy levels, a history of having fallen before, or take a lot of pain reliefmedications, blood pressure drugs, or anti-depressants. Simple modifications around your home can make it easier for you to manage things if you’re exhausted or in a lot of pain. They can also help you conserve energy, which is key with RA, Malone says.
Here’s a room-by-room look at RA home modifications and assistive devices that cost little or nothing, but can be valuable when it comes to making thing easier and safer with RA:
In the kitchen
The kitchen doesn’t have to be intimidating. Use these smart adaptations designed to make it easier to open cupboards and cans, close containers, lift bags, and maneuver around while cooking.
- Pick your pans. Pans with non-stick surfaces require less scrubbing to clean. Pans with double handles are easier to lift and move in and out of the oven or on the stovetop.
- Take a seat. Standing at the counter to prep can be tiresome and put more stress on your joints. Try buying a stool you can use to sit on while you work in the kitchen.
- Let it drip dry. Buy a dish rack and let plates, pots, and pans drain to dry instead of hand-drying. You’ll conserve energy this way and prevent yourself from having to maneuver towels.
- Go electric. Electric can openers can save you from having to “squeeze and turn cans,” Malone says. Opening a can with a handheld device puts a lot of pressure on the thumb joints, which tend to be problematic for people with RA, she says. The Arthritis Foundation also recommends trying food processors and mandolins for slicing.
- Try rollout shelves. Consider installing shelves that slide out so you don’t have to reach far inside cabinets for the items you want. A Lazy Susan is a less expensive alternative that will spin your items to you.
- Serve a la carte. A serving cart on wheels can help you bring food to the table or dishes from the table to the dishwasher. Look for a used cart online if new ones are too pricey.
In the bathroom
A safe and functional bathroom is a must for people with a chronic condition like RA. Make yours work for you with these basic adjustments.
- Cover your floors. “Placing non-slip rugs in front of the tub or shower can help prevent falls,” Malone says. Choose a rug with a rubber or non-skid backing. Don’t use towels for cleanup — they may absorb any water that spills over, but they can be slippery. Be sure to install non-skid strips in your bath or shower floor, too.
- Raise your toilet seat. “A raised toilet seat can be an option if you have difficulty getting up and down,” Malone says. Another option: Install a grab bar on the wall near the toilet.
In living areas
A living room that’s warm and inviting can make all the difference to your state of mind. Take these sensible steps to create a welcoming space for relaxing and unwinding.
- Lighten up. Buy some lamps to brighten the dark areas of your home. “If things are shadowy, they’re more difficult to see,” Malone says. Be sure your stairs are well lit because changes in elevation can be tricky to navigate if you don’t see them well.
- Board it up. If you have RA, you might find that it’s harder to get out of chairs that are soft and cushy. If you don’t want to invest in firmer seat cushions, buy a wheelchair pad at the drugstore or medical supply shop and use it on top of where you sit. Or ask a home improvement store to cut a piece of plywood that you can slip under your couch cushions to increase their firmness.
- Guard against tripping hazards. Give your living space a good inspection and remove any lamp or TV cords that could cause you to trip and fall. Move or get rid of any area rugs that could be slippery and unstable as well.
- Put a cell phone charger in the room.Keep a cell phone charged and nearby so you can easily get to it when it rings. Voice recording options are also available on many phones, which can save you from the strain of having to text on a small display.
In the bedroom
In an ideal world, your bedroom is a safe refuge from world, where deep and restorative rest can occur. Sound sleep is also vital to your health with RA. Make these adjustments and upgrades to help ensure sound slumber night after night.
- Get help with getting dressed.Take the stress out of getting dressed with the help of zipper pulls and buttoning aids. Velcro fasteners are another option to make it easier and safer to get dressed, the Arthritis Foundation suggests. And move a chair into or near your closet so you can sit securely while putting on or taking off clothing, especially things like shoes and socks.
- Use your leverage. Knobs can be difficult to turn if you have RA. Install lever handles to make bedroom and closet doors easier to open and close.
- Buy duplicates. Having duplicate sets of common household items like cleaning supplies and small electronics saves you from having to lug them around with you around the house. And you’re less likely to trip and fall if you’re not carrying a big load, Malone says.
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