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Assistive Devices to Ease the Daily Life

Friday, February 23, 2024

RA-mbling Wyldly 

Information to help you make the best choices for YOU!

Assistive Devices to the Rescue!

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is more than just a physical ailment; it's a relentless adversary that can extend its reach into the emotional landscape of those it affects. For many of us arthritis warriors, the introduction of assistive devices becomes a poignant chapter in our journey – a chapter marked not only by practical adjustments but also by the intricate dance with emotions that accompany the need for external support. And boy, can it be a dance!

The Unspoken Narrative: When the joints rebel and mobility becomes a battleground, assistive devices step onto the scene as silent heroes. Whether it's a cane, a walker, a mobility scooter, or even the long list of possible accessories to do individual tasks, these devices become the allies that help navigate a world that, suddenly, seems to have shifted its terrain. However, behind the apparent functionality lies an unspoken narrative, a silent dialogue within our hearts and minds. These thoughts can be the biggest block to living a full life with RA!

Navigating the Stigma: One of the first emotional hurdles is often the stigma. The societal perception of disability, dependence, and the use of assistive devices can cast a shadow on our emotional well-being. The subtle glances, the well-intentioned yet sometimes insensitive comments – each contributes to a sense of being marked, of standing out in a way that you may not have before. It's a journey of unlearning societal prejudices and forging a resilient identity. This can take years to master - to be honest I still struggle with using my handicap placard for parking spots!

The Tango of Independence and Dependence: Assistive devices, paradoxically, become symbols of both independence and dependence. While these tools empower us to regain control over our lives, the emotional dance involves reconciling with the need for external support and acceptance. If you are accustomed to self-sufficiency, this can be a poignant pivot. The realization that relying on a device doesn't diminish your worth or strength is a journey fraught with internal negotiations and feelings of shame, guilt or worthiness.

The Grief of Lost Normalcy: We often find ourselves grieving the loss of normalcy. The emotional toll of adapting to a life where every step is calculated, where spontaneity is a luxury, can be overwhelming. The assistive device becomes a tangible reminder of this shift – a symbol of a life that once was and the acceptance that life must now be lived differently. It's a complex emotional terrain that requires patience and self-compassion. But it can be overcome! The use of an assistive device can quite literally move you into not grieving the loss of a social life. And who's to say you will need to use the device your whole life? What if you chose to see it as a temporary option? (Seriously. What harm would that do?)

Navigating Relationships: The emotional struggle extends beyond the self to encompass our relationships. Family and friends become witnesses to this transformation, and the dynamics inevitably shift. This can be challenging for your loved ones too. There's a need for open communication, understanding, and, at times, educating loved ones about the emotional intricacies involved. It's about dismantling preconceived notions and fostering an environment of support rather than sympathy. Do your best to be patient with anyone willing to learn and help.

The Triumph of Adaptation: In this emotional struggle, however, emerges a triumph – the triumph of adaptation. Gradually, we learn to wear or use assistive devices not as burdens but as badges of resilience. The emotional journey transforms into one of self-discovery, strength, and newfound appreciation for the battles navigated daily. It's a journey of reclaiming joy, spontaneity, and a sense of self amidst the shifting landscape of our lives.

While assistive devices serve as practical tools, the emotional journey intertwined with their use is a testament to the strength and resilience of the human spirit. It's a narrative of adaptation, acceptance, and, ultimately, triumph. As these silent heroes become integral parts of daily life, they also become symbols of the emotional metamorphosis that takes place within our warrior hearts as we face the unrelenting adversary that is Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Accessories to help your daily activities go a little smoother can also be included in the "assistive devices" category. Sometimes it's the pain or limitations of the monotonous tasks that seem to mentally affect us the most.

So, to liven up this difficult transition, I've added a little fun to offering you some daily task assistive device ideas! Why settle for mundane when we can turn our everyday tools into superhero gadgets? (Links provided at the end.)

1. Cape Not Required – Grab a Grabber:

Ever wish you had Inspector Gadget's extendable arms? Well, meet your real-life superhero sidekick – the grabber! No more painful bending or stretching. Grab that pesky item on the top shelf or under the bed with ease. Bonus points if you add a cool sticker or two to your grabber; after all, even superheroes love a bit of flair. Not all are created equal, sometimes your grip strength is challenged by the tension of the pincer mechanism while using it! And the actual grabbing part may vary; some are needle-like and others are more of a wider grabbing surface! Tip: Have a basic idea of what you would be using it for: clothes vs knick knacks or heavy vs light items. Do you want it collapsable, or does it matter?

2. The Mighty Pen Grip:

Unleash your inner author with a pen grip that turns any pen into a custom-made writing utensil. It's like a magical spell – "Arthritisus Repelus!" No more cramps, just smooth strokes on paper. Write your story with the finesse of a superhero wielding a pen of justice! I prefer a softer silicone around the pen but some may need a more triangular grip if deformity or limitations in range of motion are an issue. Tip: Make sure you know the width of the pen you are putting it on!

3. Chair Accessories– Because We All Deserve a Throne:

Ever feel like your chair is missing that regal touch? The luxurious feeling of the seats in old Cadillacs. So, soup up your seat!  I use couch pillows, earthing pads or lumbar support add-ons. Consider changing your actual chair to better fit your height and width.

4. Transformers come in desks too:

I recently bought a computer desk that is adjustable to allow me to stand.  I never thought I would want or need one but it has been a huge help when my hip, knee or shoulders act up! With this double-decker desktop, I love that I can place my cup of tea at a different level and not worry about accidentally knocking it over due to range of motion limitations in my arms.

5. Funky Faucet Extenders and Grips:

Let's face it – the sink can be a tricky nemesis, especially when your hands are wet. But fear not, Wyld Chylds, the faucet extender is here! Turn every handwashing moment into a triumph. Plus, they come in fun shapes and colors, because why not add a splash of joy to your daily routine? Maybe your issue is about grip. There are so many options for the arthritic hand available to make bathroom and kitchen tasks more empowering.

6. Elastic Shoelaces – Kick Arthritis, Not Style:

Embrace your inner fashionista with elastic shoelaces. Transform any pair of shoes into slip-ons effortlessly. Who says comfort can't be stylish?  When these started to become popular with runners, I was relieved! No more wearing shoes with Velcro straps like my grandpa! My hands are saved and I'm not a dork! (Plus Velcro was actually difficult to use!)

7. Can/Jar Openers: The Unsung Heroes of the Kitchen:

The kitchen – where battles are fought and victories are celebrated. Arm yourself with an electric can or jar opener – the unsung hero of every culinary adventure. Wave goodbye to the days of struggling with stubborn cans. If you don't like the bulkiness of a jar/can opener, grab a handheld one or an ergonomic manual one. Tip: make sure you are picking one that isn't slippery, remember, wet hands!

8. Ergonomic Everything – The Wyld Chyld Signature Style:

Say goodbye to ordinary and hello to ergonomic! From kitchen utensils to gardening tools, make sure everything in your arsenal is designed with the Wyld Chyld flair for comfort and style. Tip: Pick light weight items that give where you are meant to grip them (like with silicone).

9. Help with putting on your super hero uniform:

I can honestly say, I enjoy my dressing aid "magic wand". I no longer feel stressed when picking out my outfits. There are many options from button helpers to bra strap assistance. Tip: Practice first, you don't want to stress about the learning curve while you are already running late.

10. My shower savior:  

I would have had a difficult time purchasing these if they weren't already in my possession, a chair and handrail.  I sometimes put a cute little chair I got from a job lot (or Five Below) in the shower if I am already feeling exhausted or I want to shave my legs.  I place a small towel or washcloth on the metal seat of my cute flower-stamped chair and I am feel confident.  The handrail was a slow acceptance. I lived in my apartment for five years before I stopped using the long handrail for a shower curtain holder! Now I envision being a ballerina as I hold on to wash the bottom of my feet or shave or stretch under the warm water. Tip: Make sure you clean these so they don't get slimey mildew on them and make you slip. Also pick one with a little grip or texture to it.

​So there you have it, RA Warriors – a guide to making the change to use assistive devices and some options. Let's face each day with a grin, a cape, and the knowledge that our arsenal is ready for any joint-jumping adventure. Because life with RA isn't about limitations; it's about transforming challenges into opportunities for superhero-level living!

Here are some links to Amazon for some great products. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


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