Handy tips for daily living

After failing in my third attempt to remove the plastic covering the cheddar bound for the Christmas Eve cheese platter, I conceded defeat and handed the less-than-sharp knife to a hovering Mum.

Knowing me well, Mum had been watching to make sure I wasn’t in danger of losing a finger, and waiting for me to ask for help.

Having had rheumatoid arthritis (RA) for a long time, I’m used to people looking askance at the way I do things manually, such as chopping vegetables or carrying groceries, to compensate for my dodgy hands.

My methods may look a little clumsy or time consuming but usually they work and I don’t have to ask for help – handy if you live alone.

I just need a little patience, perseverance, creativity and the help of simple assistive devices, either bought specifically for the purpose or adapted from household items.

My electric can opener is indispensible for opening tinned food, as is my hand-held jar opener, bought from a hardware store.

The jar opener doubles as a plastic milk container lid opener and childproof pill bottle opener.

Maybe you shouldn’t try this at home – but I find toenail clippers are perfect for keeping my fingernails trim and shapely.

A long-handled wooden spoon is useful for rubbing sunscreen or moisturiser on my back and shoulders.

I can wear dresses with zips if the zipper has an ‘eye’ in which I can clip a large safety pin which is fastened to the end of a long, thin, flexible, macramé rope.

After putting on the dress, I simply reach behind and grab the end of the rope, pulling up the zip.

Buttons on denim jeans or shorts can be hard to do up with sore fingers so enlarging the buttonhole by carefully cutting one of the edges just a millimetre or two with a sharp pair of scissors works a treat.

Looping heavy grocery bags over my forearms, instead of gripping them by hand, has helped prevent my fingers from deviating.

As has lifting saucepans from the stove with both hands firmly on the handle.

If you’d like more information about managing day-to-day tasks with RA, I recommend speaking to an occupational therapist or visiting the Arthritis Queensland website.

If you have any handy tips you’d like to share that have helped make your life with Arthur easier, I’d love to hear from you.