Adapting your home

Looking after a home is a full time job in itself which is even harder for people with arthritis. Many of the tasks are physically demanding which cause tiredness and fatigue in someone without this condition but are physically and mentally exhausting for the arthritis sufferer.

If you are suffering with arthritis then it is often a precarious balance between the demands of your home and your lifestyle. Don’t forget that you need to look after yourself and to concentrate on your needs which often take precedence over housework.

The aim is to conserve your energy.

We are not advocating that you forget about looking after your home. But what we are saying is that you need to do is to find a way of completing these tasks without causing any additional problems for you or your arthritis.

There is help and support available which is designed to make life easier for you and your family. Ask your family to undertake a few jobs around the house for you or to help you with any complex or time consuming tasks.

Adapting your home is discussed in the following way:

  • Practical changes around the home
  • Other forms of help at home

Practical changes around the home

There are a range of ways you can lighten the load at home and without overtaxing yourself.

These include:

  • Only fill your kettle with the amount of water you need
  • Keep a small trolley close to hand
  • Use a bar stool or chair in the kitchen
  • Spread out household tasks over several days
  • Place objects close to hand
  • Attach hand rails to the walls
  • Attach long, lever handles to your taps
  • Use electronic gadgets such as automatic can openers
  • Use a long stick with a rubber tip at one end for turning switches/buttons on or off.

A kettle which has been filled to the maximum level is heavy and awkward to hold. Only fill it with the amount of water you need, for example, up to the ‘2 cups’level if only one person is having a drink.

This is both safe and energy efficient as well.

It can be helpful to have a small trolley with various items on it which you can push around the room. This is also ideal for moving these items from one room to another.

Sit on a bar stool or a chair when doing jobs in the kitchen, e.g. preparing and cooking food.

Instead of trying to do the housework in a single day, spread these jobs out over a period of several days. Arrange this so that you do the most difficult jobs when you have more energy and don’t forget to have a rest when you need to.

Ensure that any household items/kitchen utensils etc are within reach. You do not want to bend, squat down or lean over to reach any of these. If these are heavy, e.g. pans then slide them along rather than trying to pick them up.

Consider fixing hand rails to the walls of your home. This is common feature of nursing homes which enables the residents to move around safely and without fear of falling.

If you have arthritis in your hands then it is very difficult to a tap on or off. Attach long levers to these taps which can be shifted in one direction or another.

This similarly applies if you find tin openers and other similar tools difficult to use. There are automatic or electric versions of these.

Avoid stretching or reaching over to switch a button on or off. This applies to microwave ovens, light switches and wall sockets. Use a long stick with a rubber tip at the end to do this.

If you have a carer then he/she will be able to help you with any of these tasks. But it will help your mobility and boost your confidence if you can do many of these jobs with a little assistance.

Other forms of help at home

As well as help with household tasks there are devices which help in other ways. These include a door answering system as a form of extra security for your home.

Another option is a personal alarm which can be carried on your person or fitted at your home. This also applies to smoke alarms and burglar alarms.

Your local social services department may be able to advise you further about these. Alternately, there may be help available with these from Age UK (

If you find it difficult to use your telephone due to small buttons and the weight of the receiver then switch to a phone with larger buttons or a ‘hands free’phone. Another option is to use a mobile phone instead but this can be problematic due to the small size of the screen and buttons.

And lastly, make the most of the internet. If you have internet access then make sure you use this to its full advantage and for your benefit. The internet is ideal in this aspect as you can do so many things, such as food shopping, without having to leave the house.

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