Make Your Kitchen and Bedroom RA Friendly

By Dorothy Foltz-Gray

Opening cabinets, lifting dishes, even getting out of bed can feel like Olympic hurdles when joints ache, but household chores don’t have to defeat you. Here are tips for easing rheumatoid arthritis (RA) pain in everyday tasks.

  • Simplify bed-making. Mark your sheets in the center at the top, middle and bottom with a permanent marker or sticker. Then you can easily center sheets without walking around the bed. Tuck sheets in with a long wooden spoon, or skip top sheets altogether and use only comforters with washable covers.
  • Make the laundry lighter. Buy a gliding clothes hamper or laundry basket that slides from bedroom to laundry and back.
  • Supersize kitchen cabinet handles. Bigger handles make for happier hands. Add cup handles or larger knobs. Ask a handy pal to screw the holes, adding the handle (and a washer or a shorter screw if the pull doesn’t sit tightly).
  • Add an appliance lift. If you use heavy appliances like mixers, install a cabinet appliance lift; they're available at home stores and online. The appliance sits on a shelf that rises to counter height at the push of a button, preventing achy wrists, backs and knees.
  • Relax garbage detail. Easy-glide garbage cans slide out from under a counter, making garbage disposal less taxing. Another option is a pivot-out waste can. The can swings out and the lid lifts each time the cabinet door opens. Both are available at home stores and online.
  • Look for low counters. Counters 30-inches high allow you to sit while working on kitchen tasks. You could also buy a 36-inch stool, which would let you sit at most countertops.
  • Get gadget greedy. Nowadays, lots of kitchenware—from vegetable peelers to cutlery—is made with fat, easy-to-grip handles.
Published March 2012

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