The Arthritis Foundation makes it easy for you to find top-quality gadgets and tools to help make your everyday activities more comfortable. Its Ease-of-Use Commendation is a label much like the Consumer Reports "recommended" list or the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, noting products that have been put through rigorous independent testing by experts and found to make life easier for people who have arthritis and other physical limitations.
Since arthritis sufferers experience pain from some of the most basic movements, such as squeezing, twisting and lifting objects, and since there are more than 100 different types of arthritis each presenting its own physical limitations, it's a benefit to know which products are proven life-enhancers.
For instance, the Arthritis Foundation suggests choosing drinking glasses with a bumpy texture, which can be easier to grasp than glasses with smooth exteriors. And look for products with flip-top caps, zippers and larger, easy-to-open lids, rather than twist tops that can be difficult if not impossible for an arthritis sufferer to open.
At http://ArthritisToday.org, you'll find the complete and current list of Ease-of-Use Commendation-earning products, which at the time of this writing include:
--Cordless phones with oversize buttons.
--Lightweight Tramontina-brand nonstick cookware (since heavy cast-iron pans can be difficult to lift and maneuver, posing injury risks).
--EZY-Dose Push-Button Pill Reminder cases, which hold your medications in organized slots, with easy flip-top access.
--IMAK Active Glove, which provides compression in your hands and wrists, yet with its open fingers still allows for dexterity.
--Tempur-Pedic pillows, neck pillows and bedding for improved sleep.
--Pre-filled medication syringes.
--A range of lightweight gardening tools to keep you in the garden and maintaining your landscaping with ease.
--Fiskars Easy Action Micro-Tip Scissors, an improved scissor that automatically snaps back open after easy-pressure squeezes.
--Pilot Dr. Grip Pen & Pencil, with a wider barrel for easier grip to reduce writing stress and fatigue.
--Pedometers and other fitness-oriented products, including exercise equipment.
The Arthritis Foundation also suggests switching from a heavy handbag to a cross-body bag with padded straps, made of lightweight nylon or thin leather to take stress off of your wrists, elbows and arms, and choose wallets or totes with oversize zipper pull rings, perhaps with a tassel to add extra ease of opening and closing. Check out the AmeriBag Healthy Back Bag (http://www.ameribag.com).
A large, heavy wallet can cause pain in the back and hips, so the Arthritis Foundation mentions the Back Saver wallet, using a spring clip that folds to half the thickness of most wallets (http://www.coreproducts.com).
*In the Kitchen
Opening jars is a challenge for arthritis sufferers, so look to kitchen utensils with padded grips to give you extra traction in your twisting motion. And using a Crock-Pot means not having to wield multiple pots and saute pans to make a meal, as the one Crock-Pot holds and prepares your meal. When you do cook in the oven, consider doing so with nonstick pans that won't have you scrubbing during cleaning and lining cooking sheets with foil before baking a lasagna, pie or other drippy menu item, which prevents you from scrubbing spill-overs.
A pizza-cutter with a wide handle for easy gripping can be used to cut sandwiches, meats and other foods for which knives are harder to manage. Using a small kitchen appliance to chop vegetables with the press of a button removes the hand strain of slicing and dicing.
The Arthritis Foundation also recommends sitting on a barstool at your kitchen counter while preparing meals, so that your legs, back, hips, knees and feet get a break from use.
Buy cleaning products in smaller containers. They may not be the most cost-efficient, but a lightweight detergent bottle is far easier to use than a supersized bottle. And for cleaning tasks that require scrubbing, the Arthritis Foundation says, "Simple cleaning tools, such as microfiber cloths and gloves, or Mr. Clean Magic Eraser remove dirt beautifully with just a little water and minimal muscle."
The association's Ease-of-Use Commendation has gone to several lightweight upright vacuum cleaners, and it's advisable to have one vacuum cleaner on each floor of your home so that you don't have to lug it up and down stairs. Separate cleaning supply caddies on each floor is also a winning suggestion. And instead of using dust rags that require a grip, slip a cotton sock or glove on your hand to perform easier dusting.
At http://ArthritisToday.org, you'll find a free app -- downloadable to your iPad, iPhone, Android or Kindle Fire -- that lets you easily click and slide your daily activities, symptoms, stress levels, medications, sleep quality, pain levels and more to monitor your wellness and share your daily details with your physician.
When you're armed with ease-of-use tools and technology, life can be easier and more painless, and you maintain your autonomy, while enjoying your hobbies and home care.