Sealed Up Challenges With Arthritis

Pattye Snyder Health Guide
  • Although many of our readers don't happen to live within the Continental U.S., I'm sure they are discovering many of the same "problems" that we are.  Packaging of a wide variety of things (everything from sliced cheeses and meats to medications to paintbrushes) has changed radically in the last few years.  Although I'm grateful for the concern toward good health, consumer safety and sanitation, I am just as frustrated by these  air-tight seals on many products!


    At first, when this type of packaging was developed, I thought I'd just carry a small pair of scissors or a pocketknife with me in my car to open things like ketchup and mustard packets while on the road.  This was a good solution for awhile, but the challenge is intensifying! Like many of our readers, I do have some arthritis in my hands and my pincer grip just isn't what it should be (some friends like to say I lost my "grip" a long time ago!)  Those awesome packages where you're just supposed to pull a tiny strip off the top and then use the zip-lock mechanism from then on were simply NOT designed for people with arthritis.  Of course, if I'm lucky enough to get the package open initially, then forget it if I try to open it again. The plastic becomes incredibly slippery and there's no way I can open the two "tracks."  I've noticed that this thought process (marketing) seems to be spreading like the plague as most household cleaner products now have a sealed "liner" under the cap.  The theory is great, but I don't know anyone who can pick up those tiny tabs on the foil to peel off the liner -- I usually end up stabbing it open with a knife or a pair of scissors and have managed to stab myself in the process!

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    Even some of the over-the-counter pain meds (which specify "for arthritis") are almost impossible to open, and I'll admit I grabbed a pair of vice-grip pliers one day out of desperation!


    I try to be the type of person that feels that instead of complaining about something, I need to become part of the solution.  I was gradually developing a LONG mental list of products I'd no longer buy due to the challenge of opening them.  Today put me over the proverbial edge.  I had planned on making a quick turkey sandwich for lunch -- theoretically a two-minute job if I was slow.  At first, I really DID try to pull off that cute little plastic strip, then I resorted to opening one side of the package with scissors. When that still didn't work, I attacked the center of the package like a rabid animal (I won't let packaging get the best of me!)  Yes, I finally got it open, but the meat was now in shreds and I wasn't hungry by then!  My solution is to start e-mailing companies with these "problems."  I know that one person with one comment doesn't sound like it would help, but I KNOW that it can (particularly if others write in too!)  There are thousands of people who have these challenges, we just have to let companies know our problems. SOME companies actually will listen and make changes.  I refuse to let osteoarthritis ( or a turkey sandwich) control my life!


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Published On: June 19, 2009