As part of tailoring your home to become more arthritis-friendly, you may need to re-learn the way you do things, such as your posture as you carry out every day domestic tasks, not only when your joints are sore and stiff. You don’t need to spend thousands of euros on home improvements. A few simple adjustments can make cooking, doing laundry and other daily tasks easier.  

Our simple steps will get you on the way to making your home more functional by increasing accessibility, ease of use, and personal comfort. The goal is to make simple, inexpensive modifications, as well as changes to the way you do things (and even the way you think) that will better support your daily movements and habits. 

Top 10 tips for adjusting your home 

  1. Rearrange cupboards and drawers: It may sound obvious, but you’ll be surprised at the difference that this can make. The goal is to move the things that you use most often down lower, to eye-height level so that reaching for them becomes easier. When hoovering, extend it to prevent stooping (always aiming to keep your back straight). Use the power of your legs and walk with the hoover, moving back and forth with the sweeping action.  

  1. Sit when preparing food: If you have an island, use a tall stool, or a regular chair if you are chopping vegetables and food at the table. Keep both of your feet flat on the floor and try to relax your shoulders, whilst holding your abdominal muscles in and sitting upright. Avoid leaning forwards or slouching as you prep your food.  

  1. Change pans and kettles: Move over to more lightweight pans and kettles as these are the things that we use daily. Take a look at the Uccello Kettle on our website – it has been designed using a non-weight-bearing ‘tilt and pour’ action so there’s no lifting or balancing, making it safer and easier for anyone with restricted strength or mobility. One of the worst mistakes we all make is using a very heavy pan, placed down low in a cupboard, where we must stoop, or too high where we have to reach. 

  1. Invest in handy gadgets: Try an electric tin opener, a cap gripper or knives and peelers with padded handles for more comfort. Some people also find that a telescopic ‘grabber’ or extendable gripper is useful to have to hand when reaching for things up high.  

  1. Consider wearing arthritis gloves: When doing indoor or outdoor chores, some people find it beneficial to wear gloves that are designed to provide mild compression to help control or decrease swelling of the joints – find them on our online shop here.   

  1. Choose a supportive mattress: If you have an old mattress that is not providing enough support, it may be time to consider changing it. Remember that a mattress’s lifespan is around eight to nine years. A medium firm orthopaedic mattress is usually the best option – anything too firm won’t mould to your body, whereas one that is too soft will not adequately support your spine.  

  1. Be careful when lifting: Avoid twisting or turning your trunk or neck when lifting anything. Make it a new habit to always lift with proper posture – knees bent, back straight and hold the load as close to your body as possible. If something is too heavy, always ask for help.  

  1. Think about using a trolley: Some people find it very helpful to use a trolley for moving heavy items in the house, such as wet laundry.  

  1. Consider getting help: Don’t be afraid to ask for help – it could make all the difference to your daily life and your mental wellbeing. You could think about paying a cleaner or getting a handy-person for bigger tasks if it’s affordable. Your public health nurse may also be able to assess your eligibility for home-help support. 

  1. Let go of perfectionism: Now is the time to accept that it’s okay to cut corners, whether that means avoiding ironing by folding items instead, or buying pre-chopped vegetables to help make dinner that bit easier. Being kind to yourself, and lowering your high standards, can go a long way in helping to make life that bit more manageable.  

Making your bathroom safer 

One of the biggest hazards for someone with limited mobility is the bathroom. Make things safer with these small adjustments: 

  • Use a seat in the shower. 

  • Install grab bars by the tub, shower and toilet. 

  • Consider investing in a raised toilet seat. 

  • Put slip mats in the bath and beside the toilet. 

Getting financial assistance 

You may be able to get help with the cost of equipment or special adaptations to your home if they are necessary. Contact the Housing Department of your location authority to see whether you are eligible for assistance. Learn more about housing adaptation grants and more in our Navigating the System in our Inflammation Nation podcast 

Considering Occupational Therapy 

An occupational therapist can help you identify which home modifications are right for you. Ask your rheumatologist for a referral. To learn everyday tips that help make life easier from senior occupational therapist Jane Brownlee and helpline volunteer Anna O’Laoghaire.