Living With Arthritis – Adapting Your Home

by Rachel Laurendeau on April 26, 2012

For millions of Americans living with arthritis, everyday tasks can be a painful challenge. If you are one of those people, you know that a home improvement can address a number of changes that need to be made around the house to make it a more accommodating environment.

Although you may not need very many adaptations right now, think about your long-term plans. If you intend to stay in this particular home for a long time, why not future-proof the house while you are renovating.

Bathroom
• Add wall reinforcements in the bathroom. Grab bars can be installed now or down the road.
• Install a walk-in shower or walk-in bathtub with grab bars. Since heat can soothe swollen joints, consider a steam shower or hydrotherapy massage tub after speaking to your doctor.

Fixtures
• Replace traditional doorknobs and faucets with levered handles and add loop-style handles on kitchen cabinetry. These are easier to manipulate and require less physical effort for those who suffer with pain in their wrists and hands.
• Remove loose carpeting to avoid slip and falls.
• Make sure things that are used regularly are easy to reach. In this case, a little organizing is well worth the effort.

Electrical
• Have and electrician move up electrical outlets to reduce bending. Placing them 18 inches or more from the floor makes them accessible from a sitting position.
• Light switches should also be accessible from seated height, approximately 36-44 inches from the floor. Easy-touch switches are available or automatic occupancy sensors could be installed.

Stairways and Walkways
• Install handrails on both sides of the staircase. As with door handles, make sure the handrails are an easy shape to grip.
• Ensure that hallways and walkways are uncluttered and well lit. This includes the space around furniture and walls. A cane, walker or wheelchair requires plenty of clearance and nothing in the way to encumber it.

Around the Yard
• Install a low-maintenance garden.
• Plant your garden in raised beds.
• Invest in specialized garden tools with long handles to reduce the need to bend over.
• Consider an irrigation system or lightweight coiled garden hose for watering.

If you live with swollen painful joints from arthritis, adapting your home environment can help ease some of the triggers to your pain. For more information on how to make changes to your home, talk to your local home improvement expert or hire a general contractor who can take you through the process.

Related blog – 7 Tips for Designing Senior Citizen-Friendly Bathrooms

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