Taking a bath. Shaving. Washing your hair.
To most, these are simple everyday hygiene habits to be taken for granted. For the more than 15 per cent of Australians who suffer from some form of arthritis and 49%+ of the Starts at 60 community – be it osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis – they can sometimes become a painful impossibility. Especially when in the grip of a debilitating flare-up that more often than not makes it extremely difficult to maintain proper hygiene routines.
With one in two Australians with arthritis reporting that they experience “moderate to severe” pain (according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare); it’s easy to see how arthritis flare-ups can seriously impact on quality of life if no appropriate measures are taken to manage them. Maintaining independence during these difficult interludes is a significant factor in feeling in control of your life.
With this in mind, we’re passing on some useful household hygiene hacks for arthritis sufferers to help regain their independence and stay in the driver’s seat – even during flare-ups.
The single most helpful prop for any arthritis sufferer is to have easy access to adaptive shower equipment. This will make your entire showering or bathing routine a breeze from start to finish.
Some popular pieces of adaptive shower equipment include railings, tub transfers, low baths, and shower chairs, and handheld showerheads. All this equipment works together to enable people with arthritis to have a safer and more comfortable shower or bath experience, no matter their age.
If you’re cooking during a flare-up, you’ll find there are many devices available to replace common kitchen equipment you will struggle to grip. You will find there are hand-held, automated devices for mashing, cutting, turning your taps, and so much more.
For showers specifically, lever taps are much easier to pull for those with wrist pain. Even the ‘simple’ tasks can seem daunting to someone with arthritis, and twisting tight tap handles can sometimes cause further injury. Or, you can consider adding a tap turner to an old-style tap to make it easier to turn without hurting arthritic hands.
Similar to lever taps or faucets, pump dispensers on shampoo, conditioner, and body wash bottles are easier to work with if you have hand or wrist pain. Squeezing too can cause injury if there is too much pressure. However, touchless dispensers are available for added ease; making the process as easy as placing your hands underneath the pump to trigger a sensor.
If arthritis makes your hands and fingers super sore and sensitive, opt for a handled body scrubber instead of a soft scrubber or sponge that saturates your hand and takes more effort to hold and scrub. Scrubbers with long handles offer easy access with more space for holding.
If you are having a bad flare day and don’t have the motivation to shower at all, you can always opt for a dry shampoo or get a ‘no-wash day’ set of sprays for easy application. Dry shampoo is a spray-on powder that soaks up the oils in your hair and makes it look fresh for another day or two.
Electric razors are a quicker way to shave and mean you can shave outside of the shower to alleviate any awkward positioning that could cause injury in the shower. There’s less of a risk for accidentally nicking yourself with the razor too.
Padded utensil grips can be used for hair or makeup brushes, nail files and other tools which ultimately make gripping a bit easier and help to alleviate the pain of holding on too tightly due to weak wrists.
If getting dressed is difficult, a dressing tool can help you into clean clothes as quickly as possible with minimal pain. A dressing tool usually has a small hook that lets you zip up clothing and shoes with greater ease. And there are tools like the Butler Buttoner that help you to do up your own buttons.
If your knees are struggling, then bending up and down to and from the toilet can be extraordinarily painful. A raised toilet seat can mean you don’t have to bend as far. These can be added on top of most existing toilets easily.
If you’re still in the early stages of treating arthritis, there are both natural and surgical options to choose from to help alleviate pain. For example, hemp seed oil or Kunzea cream are great natural alternatives to relieve muscular aches and swelling.
If natural remedies aren’t helpful, a joint replacement could be another beneficial option for end-stage arthritis. A study published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery in May 2021 found that 78 per cent of participants who underwent some form of replacement were completely satisfied.
With that said, it’s important to look after yourself your way and to stick with whatever works for your particular pain.
IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.