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Arthritis and Limited Mobility, How to Make Life Easier

Arthritis and limited mobility

Limited mobility due to pain, inflammation, and stiffness associated with arthritis can make everyday tasks difficult and have a negative impact on overall quality of life. However, there are things you can do around the house to make life easier, safer, and more enjoyable. Here are just a few of them.

How to use your steps

Arthritis affects about 20 percent of adults in the United States, and especially among older Americans, the risk of falling and suffering a subsequent hip or other fracture is great. In fact, about one-third of older adults experience a fall each year.

One way to help avoid falls is to limit the use of steps and stairs. At the same time, however, you might utilize those same steps to make life easier for someone who has arthritis.

The lower steps of a stairway can be customized or built to act as drawers for storage for items such as slippers, shoes, gloves, scarves, and hats. Such handy drawers also could be used to store clothing so individuals don't need to go upstairs to retrieve items from a closet or bureau.

People with arthritis or limited mobility can sit on one step and have easy access to items in a drawer in another step. Having these hidden storage areas in the stairs also expands your storage capacity and is a convenient way to store items in a hurry.

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Beware of rugs
People with limited mobility are at risk of falling if there are area or throw rugs in the house. So-called non-skid rugs may pose a problem as well unless they are tacked down.

Make decisions about rugs in the home based on the severity of the mobility problem. People with arthritis who use a walker with wheels may have difficulty maneuvering on carpeting unless it is similar to indoor/outdoor carpeting.

Utilize more shelves
Reaching into cabinets in the kitchen or pantry for food items or dishes can be painful and difficult. While grabbing devices can be helpful, they are not always good for odd-shaped or heavy items.

If you can't reach the items you need safely and conveniently, bring them to your level.

  • Attach hanging shelves from the bottom on your kitchen cabinets for items you use most often.
  • Rearrange the refrigerator so commonly used items are near the front and low enough to reach easily.
  • Use a tea cart or other small kitchen cart next to your kitchen counter or other convenient place to place dishes, cooking items, or utensils you use often.

Other ways to make life easier and safer

  • Use rubber mats in bathtubs and showers and in front of the kitchen and bathroom sinks to prevent slipping
  • Have grip bars installed in areas where individuals may fall, such as next to the toilet, in the shower, or if there are areas of the house where you must step down to reach a lower level
  • Install door handles with levers you push up or down. These are much easier for people who cannot grip and turn a regular door knob.
  • Remove wheeled furniture (chairs, tea carts, tables) or make sure they are always locked. People with limited mobility who lean up against wheeled furniture can easily fall and injure themselves.
  • Attach a tassle or attractive clasp to the ends of zippers to make dressing easier
  • Visit online stores that carry items specially made for people with arthritis and limited mobility. Even if you don't buy the products, you can get some ideas on other ways to make your life with arthritis easier and safer.

Arthritis Foundation
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Image: Morguefile