10 Things to Do to Help Ease Your RA

  • Prescription Medications


    1.  Ask for easy-to-open medication bottles.  Prescription bottles can be difficult to manage when you have RA hands.  If you have trouble removing childproof lids on prescription bottles, ask your pharmacist to replace them with easy-to-open lids.  These will take much less effort to open and put less strain on delicate hands and fingers.  However, if you have children in the house, you will need to be especially careful to store your medications in a place which is safely out of children’s access.


    2.  Organize medications in daily and weekly containers.  Go a step beyond the easy-to-open lids and organize your medications in weekly containers, the molded plastic type which are available at most pharmacies or discount stores.  These containers with snap-lock hinged lids come in 7-compartment, 14-compartment, or even 28-compartment configurations.  You can choose one day a week during which to fill the compartments with your medications and not have to open those tricky childproof lids for another week.

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    Home Lighting


    3.  Replace traditional wall light switches with rocker-panel switches.  Rocker-panel switches can be turned on and off by pressing with an arm, elbow, or palm of the hand each which require less fine motor control than the traditional toggle wall switch.  Rocker-panel switches are available at hardware and home-improvement stores.


    4.  Turn any metal lamp into a touch-sensitive lamp.  Lamps are easier to turn on and off if you install a lamp converter, which fits into the lightbulb socket and bypasses the on-off switch, making the lamp “touch-sensitive.”  If you use a three-way bulb, the light gets brighter with each successive touch and then finally turns off.


    Doors and Doorknobs


    5.  Replace regular doorknobs with level handles, or purchase a rubber level that fits over any standard doorknob.  Lever handles are easy to operate since you can just push down with your hand, arm, or elbow.  Or you can wrap several rubber bands around the largest part of the doorknob to make it easier to grasp and turn.


    6.  Keep doors easily movable by oiling squeaky or stiff door hinges with a little WD-40 or 3-in-1 Household Oil.  If a door scrapes along a rug, plane the bottom of the door to make it open and close more easily.  One way to plane the bottom of a door, without having to remove it, is to put a large piece of coarse sandpaper on the floor under the door (padding it, if necessary) and then move the door back and forth a few times until it swings easily.


    Grocery Shopping Time


    7.  Ask the grocery bagger not to fill your bags too full, spreading out the items into more bags that will weigh less each.  Ask that all frozen or perishable foods be put into bags together.  Then, when you arrive home, you only need to immediately empty the bags with frozen or perishable foods; the others can wait until later (unless of course you have a personal army of attendants at home ready to do your bidding, lol).


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    8.  To make shopping easier, use the same grocery store on a regular basis and learn where various items are located.  Many stores provide copies of their layout available for customer convenience; ask for one.  Photocopy this layout and use it as a master shopping list by simply checking off the specific items you need.  This will make it easier for you, or someone assisting you, the next time you go shopping.


    Personal Wellbeing


    9.  If you are anything like me, living with chronic illness has made maintaining a healthy weight challenging and regular exercise more difficult.  This entry is a personal one in that I’m asking you to come support me on a very long journey.  Do you happen to know what your body mass index (BMI) and total body fat percentage are?  I do now, and perhaps you will join me on this quest to lower my weight and become more active.  Come read Body Fat and BMI - My, oh My!!  (Honestly, I could use the moral support.)


    10.  Finally, please take care of yourself.  Be sensible about how you spend your time and energy and do those things that are most important to you and to your family.  Try to eliminate unnecessary and/or difficult tasks.  Make compromises and remove the word “should” from your vocabulary.  By all means, give yourself permission to rest whenever possible.


    Rheumatoid Arthritis Awareness


    Bonus.  Living with RA is never an easy thing to do and there is still a general lack of understanding of what the disease is and does.  (see RA Myths and RA Facts)  To help spread awareness of the disease, tell just ONE PERSON what it is like FOR YOU to live with rheumatoid arthritis.  Do this either in person or create a Sharepost.



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    Lisa Emrich is author of the blog Brass and Ivory: Life with MS and RA and founder of the Carnival of MS Bloggers.

Published On: January 18, 2010