14 Household Tools for People in Pain and Those Aging in Place

These tools can make things like opening doors and writing a little easier.

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If you've had an injury or have chronic pain, arthritis, or other conditions, you know how frustrating it can be when you can't accomplish simple chores by yourself.

When your back is bothering you, the last thing you want to do is bend over to pick up the fork you dropped on the floor. Also, as the population ages—many of whom want to age in place—tools that make them capable of handling daily life activities are necessary.

For people with rheumatoid arthritis, painful flare-ups can make opening a door or getting dressed a daunting struggle.

"The number-one tool that one needs during a flare, by far, is this word called autonomy," said Nortin Hadler, MD, a professor of medicine and microbiology/immunology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "It means the ability to pace the day and choose activities."

Below, find helpful tools for people with arthritis, similar pain-related ailments, or those aging in place.

General Tools

These tools may be needed for miscellaneous tasks.

Non-Grip Pens

When you have little to no strength in your fingers, doing simple tasks like signing checks and writing grocery lists can be awkward or nearly impossible.

For an ergonomic, no-grip pen that uses the weight of your hand to press ink to paper, try PenAgain. The unique wishbone shape is designed to reduce stress and the risk of repetitive injury by placing your hand in a more comfortable position when you write.

Soft Door Knob Grippers

Door knobs can be slippery and hard to grasp, even for people who don't have a weak grip. To avoid frustration, try swapping them out for door levers with a smooth, thick handle that's easy to turn.

For a cheaper solution, you can opt for Great Grips Doorknob Grippers. They are made of a soft material that stretches to fit over round doorknobs, making them comfortable to hold. The two small levers on the sides make it easy to open doors with a finger, a closed fist, or even an elbow.

Push-Button Pill Organizers

When taking various medications daily, a good pill organizer makes it easier to prepare and schedule your dosage well ahead of time—and avoid confusion about missing doses.

Spare your fingers by choosing an easy-open, push-button pill organizer from Ezy-dose, which the Arthritis Foundation recommended. Each compartment has a rounded scoop bottom, making it easy to remove your pills. They have a design for your needs, such as 7-day, AM/PM, and XL versions.

Comfortable Seat Lifters

Raising your seat by a few inches can make all the difference if you have knee pain. You won't have to bend your knees as much to sit down, which will make it a lot easier to get back up, explained Dr. Hadler.

Specially designed pads, like the Sissel Sitfit Plus, make it easy to retrofit chairs for more comfortable seating. For more of a lift, there's Upeasy's Power Seat, which will give you a gentle push on your way up. It can be used with pretty much any chair or sofa, and it's portable.

Extended Reach Tools

There are a variety of devices out there to help extend your reach in several different sizes.

The more expensive versions have special features, such as grips or magnets capable of picking up coins, like the Ableware Omnigrip Reacher. Some, like the Ableware Vee-Zee C5 Reacher, can be operated without moving the fingers.

The Grabber Reacher Tool, with an LED light mounted at the center, may be helpful if you're searching for something small in a hard-to-reach place.

Ergonomic Scissors

Dull, poorly designed scissors are unacceptable and unusable if you're in pain. If you're willing to spend a little more, Fiskars offers dozens of ergonomically designed, super-sharp shears that make cutting paper and fabric a much more pleasant proposition.

They look nice, too. Several of Fiskars' products have also won the thumbs-up from the Arthritis Foundation for ease of use. Its products include pruners and clippers for the yard and garden, squeeze punches in dozens of shapes for crafters, and scissors for cutting paper and fabric.

Kitchen Tools

Here are some tools that can make kitchen tasks less difficult.

Large-Handled Peelers

Standard, skinny, swivel vegetable peelers are uncomfortable for pretty much everyone to use, not just people with chronic pain, said Dr. Hadler.

There are several nifty new peelers on the market with large handles. They make the job of peeling potatoes, carrots, and other fruits and veggies much less difficult.

Rachael Ray's 3-in-1 vegetable peeler features a big, comfy handle and a brush for cleaning potatoes. It even has a point at the end for digging out potato eyes. The peeler also comes in bright colors, so it's easy to spot in your kitchen drawer.

Soft-Handled Knives

Several kinds of knives have handles and blades specially designed for people with limited mobility and strength. Dexter's DuoGlide knives feature large, soft handles that can be held in several positions for better control. They also have ultra-thin, ultra-sharp stainless steel blades.

Easy-Open Jar and Can Openers

You have several options if you need help opening jars or cans. The simply designed Evriholder Easi-Twist Jar Opener can be used for jars of any size.

For cans, this Oxo steel can opener has large handles and runs with a jumbo-size, easy-to-turn knob. Oxo also has a Good Grips Smooth Edge Can Opener with a similar large knob and pliers to keep the lid from falling into the can after it's removed. Even better, it's dishwasher safe.

Hand-washing is recommended for the steel version.

Cushioned-Handle Utensils

When you have arthritis that bothers your fingers, everyday tasks, such as eating your dinner, can be painful and difficult. You may need knives, forks, and spoons with handles that are easy to grip and won't slip out of your hands.

These eating utensils from Good Grips fit the bill with large, cushioned handles made of a rubber-like material. Each utensil has a metal shaft that can twist in any direction, making it easy to hold in a comfortable position.

Bathroom Tools

These bathroom tools are beneficial for hygienic tasks.

Long-Handled Hair Tools

Long-handled brushes and combs can be extremely helpful if you have pain in your shoulders, arms, or hands that makes using regular hair-grooming aids difficult.

WrightStuff.biz offers a 12-inch or 14-inch handle brush and comb set. (Each comb and brush can also be bought individually.)

The handles are designed to be antislip, and the brush and comb are curved to conform to the head. The company also sells long-handled hair and body washers and a long-handled back scrubber.

Secured Grip Bars

Securely installed grip bars are a must for getting safely in and out of the bathtub.

If you don't always need help, there are portable versions that you can install as needed; these are also useful for travel. Bridge Medical makes a single-grip bar and a telescoping pivot-grip grab bar that can be installed at various angles.

Grip bars for permanent installation tend to be considerably less expensive. Several websites sell various grab bars; some, like Mr. Grab Bar, even offer installation.

Toilet Seat Raisers

The same applies to toilet seats, which can be a significant challenge to navigate when knee pain strikes. There are several raised seats you can buy to adapt standard toilets, some of which come with arms.

You'll want to make sure the seat is installed securely to avoid slippage. Other things to consider: ease of cleaning and installation. The Etac Hi-Loo With Brackets received high ratings from users in all these categories, and it can be used with elongated or standard bowls.

Convenient Toiletting Assistants

If a flare-up makes even wiping yourself difficult, some devices can extend your reach and help you maintain your independence—and privacy.

The Easywipe Toiletting Aid has a soft silicone end where you can attach toilet paper, with a button that releases the tissue when you're done. There's also a compact version with a carrying case to keep in a purse or pocket.

A Quick Review

A lot of tools are available to help those who have arthritis or may be aging in place. The tools include everything from cushioned jar openers to extended reaching tools to toilet seat raisers. Ultimately, these devices are meant to help people do day-to-day tasks with less difficulty and more independence.

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