The month of May brings about warmer temperatures, fragrant flowers blooming, and the anticipation of summer. This month is recognized each year as National Arthritis Awareness Month. Arthritis is a disease that impacts more than 50 million Americans.
Living with arthritis can be disruptive. The pain and stiffness can make it difficult to perform the daily tasks most people take for granted. Even things like putting on socks or cooking dinner can be exhausting. Therefore, if you have arthritis, it is important to take especially good care of yourself.
Here is a listing of some do-it-yourself strategies to help ease the symptoms of arthritis:
- Avoid holding one position for too long. Keep moving. You can achieve this by shifting your weight or doing simple stretching every 15-30 minutes.
- Avoid stress on your joints. For example, opening a tight lid can be difficult if you have hand arthritis. One solution is to set the jar on a cloth, lean on the jar with your palm, and turn the lid using a shoulder motion.
- Discover your strength. Use your strongest joints and muscles. To protect finger and wrist joints, push open heavy doors with the side of the arm or shoulder. To reduce hip or knee stress on stairs, lead with the stronger leg going up and the weaker leg going down.
- Plan ahead. Simplify life as much as possible. Eliminate unnecessary activities (for example, buy clothing that doesn't need ironing). Organize work and storage areas; store frequently used items within easy reach. Keep duplicate household items in several places; for example, stock the kitchen and all bathrooms with cleaning supplies.
- Use labor-saving items and adaptive aids. In the kitchen, use electric can openers and mixers. In the bathroom, cut down on scrubbing by using automatic toilet bowl cleaners and, in showers or tubs, spray-on mildew remover.
- Make home modifications. Using casters on furniture can make housecleaning easier. A grab bar mounted over the tub is a necessity for many people, as is a suction mat in the tub to prevent falls. Putting a bathing stool in the tub or shower is a good idea for people who have arthritis in the legs.
- Ask for help. Maintaining independence is essential to self-esteem, but independence at all costs is a recipe for disaster. Achieve a balance by educating family members and friends about the disease and the limitations it imposes and enlisting their support. Ask for help with specific tasks.