- getting dressed
- brushing your teeth
- cooking a meal
- driving your car
For many people with RA, these daily tasks are painful and challenging. Assistive devices, also called adaptive devices, can make these tasks much easier and can help you manage your pain.
We’ve rounded up 32 of the best assistive devices to make every area of your life with RA a little less challenging.
Here’s a quick look at assistive devices for your:
Assistive devices for your bedroom can help you get dressed. Small devices can help you fasten buttons, pull zippers, put on jewelry, and more. Additional devices can make sleeping and getting in and out of bed more comfortable.
Button hooks are assistive devices that can help you button sleeves, shirts, pants, and other buttons. They pull buttons of all sizes through buttonholes for you. They can help you get dressed when RA makes the joints in your fingers stiff and painful.
You can add a ring, a bit of fabric, or other pull to the end of zippers. This makes it much easier to grab and pull. It can help with closing pants, jackets, wallets, purses, and other items with zippers.
You can buy clothes with Velcro, or look into replacing some of the buttons and snaps on your current clothes with Velcro. Velcro is easier to pull apart and join together. It can make getting dressed much more manageable.
A dressing stick is an assistive device that can help you put your sleeves and pant legs in the right place. This device is a stick or pole with a hook on the end. You can use the hook to grab onto the ends of your sleeves and other clothing edges and pull them into place.
Tiny jewelry hooks can be a challenge for people with RA. But that doesn‘t mean you need to stop wearing your favorite pieces. Jewelry fasteners can help you hook bracelets and necklace clasps.
A sock aid is a device that can help you pull socks over your feet and up your ankles and legs. Sock aids come in several forms. Most types give you handles you can use to get socks up with less strain on your hips and knees.
Tight shoes can be difficult to wiggle your foot into. This can be extra challenging for people with RA who have pain in their wrists, knees, and hips. A shoehorn can help you slide your foot into your shoes more easily.
Bed risers adjust the height of your bed. They can make it easier to get in and out of bed without pain. This can be a big help in the mornings when knee pain can be severe for many people with RA.
Pillows can help support your joints. There are a wide variety of pillows available. The right one for you depends on which of your joints are most impacted by RA. A physical or occupational therapist can make suggestions if you’re not sure what’s best for you.
Assistive devices for your bathroom can make it easier to shower, bathe, and take care of your daily grooming tasks. They can help you maintain important self-care and stay independent. Plus, they can keep you safe and prevent falls.
Grab bars and railings
Grab bars in your tub and on the wall by your toilet can help you move through your bathroom. You can use them to pull yourself up, maintain your balance, and stay safe during daily activities.
Raised toilet seats
Getting up and down can be hard on your knees and hips when you have RA. Low surfaces like toilets can be even more of a challenge. A raised toilet seat can make it easier and reduce the pressure on your joints.
Fatigue is a common symptom of RA. It’s important to rest and pace yourself when you have this condition.
A seat or bench in your tub or shower can help you rest and stay safe while you get clean. It allows you to sit while you wash your body and hair, and it can prevent you from getting overly tired.
Handles and levers
Twisting faucet knobs in your sink and shower can be difficult when RA causes pain in your hands. Replacing your knobs with handles or levers can help. Handles and levers are easier to grip and allow you to avoid painful wrist and hand motions.
Electric razors and toothbrushes
Electric razors and toothbrushes can make it a lot easier to handle shaving and brushing your teeth. You won’t need to use your wrists and hands as much, and that can prevent pain. Plus, electric devices often have thicker handles and are easier to grip.
You can replace the standard lids on your medication bottles and other bathroom supplies with easy-to-open lids. This can make it a lot easier to get the supplies you need without painful twisting motions.
You can look for products that already have easier lids, or you can purchase replacement lids for the supplies you already own, such as over-the-counter pain medications.
Assistive devices for the kitchen can make it easier to open jars, chop vegetables, and do other important cooking tasks. They can help you cook and prepare meals on your own.
You might already own some of the devices that can assist in the kitchen, but other assistive devices might require you to make changes to your kitchen.
Repetitive chopping can cause pain in your hands and wrists. A food processor can chop vegetables, meats, and other foods to help you prepare dinner.
You can buy basic food processors that chop and dice, or more elaborate food processors that can also take on tasks like grating and pureeing food.
It can be a challenge to get a lid off some jars. It can be even more difficult if the pain from RA makes it difficult for you to grab and twist lids. Jar openers can help. You can look into simple manual jar openers or more expensive electric jar openers.
Cast iron and other heavy materials are kitchen staples, but they can be difficult to use for people with RA. It can help to switch them out for lightweight cookware. Like food processors and jar openers, lightweight cookware is available at many price points and in many styles.
Adaptive utensils are specially designed to be easier to use. They have longer handles, grips, and other adaptations to help people with joint pain cook and eat. You can find adaptive versions of cooking tools and silverware.
Assistive devices for your office can make your workday easier. They can help you make calls, write, and sit at your desk without pain.
A supportive chair can take the pressure and stress off of your joints while you work. When you have RA, you might need your chair and workspace at a specific height to stay comfortable and not irritate your joints.
An occupational therapist can help you find the right chair for your workday. They can also suggest the right height and angle to reduce pain.
It can be a strain on your hands and wrists to hold onto the phone during calls. A hands-free headset will let you make the calls you need without using your hands at all. This can make your workday much less painful, especially if phone calls are a big part of your job.
Slanted writing boards bring your work closer to you. They help you avoid bending and straining. You can also use them to keep your pens, highlighters, calculators, and other supplies within easy reach.
Assistive devices for your car can help you turn your keys, get gas, and stay more comfortable while you drive.
A key turner is a device you can place onto the end of your car key. It makes it easier to grab your keys by giving you a larger surface area. It can save you from painful twisting and pinching motions.
Gas cap opener
Twisting and pulling your gas cap off can be painful for people with RA. A gas cap opener is a device that gives you a larger surface area. You can attach it to your gas cap every time you need to open it to make getting gas more manageable.
Heat can help soothe the pain and swelling of RA. Heated seats in your car can be a great way to soothe the pain in your joints after a long day at work. They can also make long drives more comfortable.
Wide-angle rearview mirrors or rearview cameras
It can be painful to twist your head and neck when you have RA. This can make reversing, parking, and other driving tasks difficult. A wide-angle rearview mirror or a rearview camera can allow you to see what’s behind your car without turning your head.
Assistive devices for your lifestyle can help you take on shopping, cleaning, and gardening, as well as hobbies you may be pursuing. These devices can make it easier for you to do the things you enjoy without pain. They can help you maintain your lifestyle even on days when your RA symptoms are severe.
Phone holders or rests can hold your phone so you can use it hands-free. They can allow you to scroll through your phone, text friends, and make calls without needing to grip your phone. You can also use holders for tablets, e-readers, and similar devices.
Like phone holders, bookholders give you a place to rest books so you can read without needing to grip something. There are bookholders that can help you read comfortably when you’re laying in bed or lounging on the couch, as well as bookholders that can hold cookbooks and other instructional books. You can find bookholders in many styles and at many price points.
Personal shopping carts
Personal shopping carts can make shopping less tiring and painful. They’re much easier on your joints than heavy bags or trying to carry items in your arms. You can also use personal shopping carts to make it easier to transport laundry down hallways. Plus, some personal shopping carts have Velcro side flaps that allow you to unload them without bending and reaching.
Kneeling on the ground to take care of your garden is hard on your joints and can lead to pain. A gardening bench or stool can help you avoid putting stress on your knees. You can also look for lightweight gardening tools with large handles to help avoid pain in your wrists and hands.
Lightweight cleaning tools
You can look for a variety of lightweight cleaning tools. For instance, a lightweight vacuum can make it easier to clean your floors. Additionally, spray mops are often lighter than traditional mops and can be easier to manage when you have RA.
Opening doors might seem like a simple task to some, but it can put a strain on your wrists and hands. Nonslip doorknob covers can make the twisting and gripping motion of opening a door a lot easier. Doorknob covers make doorknobs larger and help them stay in your hand without slipping.
Some assistive devices might be covered by insurance. However, not every device on this list will be covered by insurance.
As a general rule, insurance plans will cover assistive devices that a physical therapist or occupational therapist ordered for you. The devices will normally need to be considered medical equipment to qualify for coverage. This means that a food processor or lightweight vacuum probably won’t be covered, but items such as a raised toilet seat might be.
Covered assistive devices might also include things such as:
- bed risers
- handles and grip bars in bathroom
- bath benches
If you have insurance, your exact coverage for this type of item depends on your particular plan. You might have a copayment or deductible. You can check exactly what the insurance plan covers by contacting them or checking your policy. Some insurance plans will cover more than other plans.
You can find other assistive devices at a wide range of costs. You can check medical supply stores, drug stores, or large online retailers. A doctor, physical therapist, or occupational therapist might be able to help you find assistive devices that are in your price range.
Some assistive device companies and medical supply companies offer discount programs for people without insurance. You might be able to get items for a very low cost through these programs.
If you don’t have insurance and you’re looking for items such as bath benches or handle grips, your doctor’s office or a local Federally Qualified Health Center might be able to get them for you at low or no cost. You can find a Federally Qualified Health Center near you by using this locator.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can make it difficult and painful to take on daily tasks. Assistive devices can help you do these tasks without pain so you can maintain your independence and lifestyle.
Assistive devices can help you get dressed, shower, cook, drive, complete your workday, shop, and more. Some assistive devices might be covered by your insurance plan if you have one.
A doctor, physical therapist, or occupational therapist can help you determine the best assistive devices for you and the best places to purchase them.