Maintaining independence while minimizing pain is a goal of many of our aging parents who suffer from arthritis pain. Fortunately, many adaptive devices are on the market that may make simple chores less demanding and less painful for arthritis sufferers.
The Arthritis Foundation reports that more than 27 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis. Risk factors of OA include age, obesity, injury, genetics and muscle weakness affecting key joints.
In one way or another, arthritis issues affect most every family. During my childhood, my mother used an odd-shaped kitchen knife that was a hold-over from the late 1940s. The small paring knife featured an extra-large handle that my grandfather fashioned and crafted for Grandmother. The odd-looking knife stood out and I repeatedly asked why we had this knife. The standard response was, “Grandaddy Ed made this knife for Grandmother so that she could hold it. She had arthritis.”
The knife and other items in our home were reminders of Grandmother’s need for specialized tools to accommodate her pain and joint stiffness from arthritis. My grandfather had the skills and tools to make many adaptive tools and gadgets for my grandmother — long before the era of online shopping or medical equipment stores on every corner. Today, we’re lucky that the influence of aging Baby Boomers has encouraged new adaptive products for arthritis sufferers, as well as those with other limitations.
Several companies offer adaptive tools that may help make simple chores a bit easier and maybe less painful for arthritis sufferers:
Kitchen tools. A selection of manufacturers offer kitchen knives and other tools that feature over-sized, cushioned handles. Some models feature 90 degree-angled handles for ease in wrist movement.
Utensil holders. Adaptive aids have been developed that offers a platform and support for fingers and wrist. Oversized handles help those with restricted grips to hold dining utensils.
Gardening implements. Longer handles and right-angle designs allow gardeners to enjoy their hobby while avoiding the pain associated with traditional tools.
Household grips. Key grip, door knob grips, light switch enlargers, and button hook/zipper pullers help aging parents perform simple tasks while remaining as independent as possible.
Hobbies and crafts. Modified scissors, playing card holders and larger game pieces offer options
Large buttons. Large-button universal remote controls assist arthritis sufferers while specialized gadgets such as a seatbelt buckling device helps less nimble fingers accomplish the tasks that we sometimes take for granted.
The Arthritis Foundation offers links to several adaptive device locations and another website offer several tools and gadgets at www.arthritissupplies.com.