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As almost anyone living with a chronic aliment that causes body movement limitations can tell you, some things can be down right hard to do. For example: The simple act of opening a jar, can be either painful, or literally impossible. The list of other actions we find limited are almost too many to mention, however, there are ways to get around some of the problems, or at least make them less painful.

Most items listed here, are also for those that have any kind of joint issues, such as Osteoarthritis and the like.( Which is most of us ) In fact most helper items made for that condition, will find a perfect fit in most FMer homes. Things to get organized and simplify our lives, are a must have on any FMers shopping list, That said, here are a few ideas ...

In the kitchen:

Pressure cooker:

This is an old favorite come back to life; Pop in everything you want to cook, bring it up to heat, turn it down lower, set a  timer and walk away. Hear the buzzer sound, take it off, let it cool and you have some of the best meat, potatoes, etc. almost without effort. I could not live without mine.

Crock pot: 

Yet another old time favorite, come back to the foreground recently, which is put in everything you want to cook, set it high to heat it all up, then turn it down low and again, walk away. Come back and stir it once in a while or check water levels, and the pot will have ready to eat food come dinner time.

Electric chopper: 

Now this is a new gadget on the market, as all of the old ones required that you stood there and whacked on the thing, to chop up food. Not so with the electric variety, it's toss in the food and hit the button until it's chopped as fine as you want it to be. I have one that will fit in the palm of my hand and it's worth its weight in gold on those days when the very idea of standing there and mincing up something, is more than my hands are gonna stand for.

Ergonomic handled cooking tools:

These are the tools with larger, easy to hold handles, on everything from knives to spatulas. Just pop the word Ergonomic or easy grip, followed by whatever tool your looking for into any search engine and you will likely find it.

Two handled pots and pans: 

As simple as this idea sounds, its been neglected until now. Everything from the smallest to the largest can have two handles, so you can use both hands to move them. This is especially true of large heavy items like cast iron skillets, which most of us gave up years ago. But you don't have to, as they do make them with grips on both sides. 

Jar openers:

These are a must have. Now you can go out and buy some very costly ones, but the easiest ones are very simple. You know the sort of sticky mesh plastic you line shelves with, so the dishes don't move ? Take one of those and cut it up into hand size squares and wa la, instant open jar aids. 

For myself I find a simple multi sized plastic thing, with several sizes of holes, with teeth, helps most of all. It looks like a figure eight, with tines all around the inside and with it, you can open almost any jar or bottle. There are many other varieties for just about any ability level to open things, you can name, even if that level is zero, as they have ones that are automated.

Aprons: 

Now I know, the whole idea sounds a bit old fashioned, but they are handy for a variety of things. I have some I made, that are an over the head "chef" style with three large lower pockets and one chest pocket. Now, I use them for everything from, the typical, cooking in it, to working in the garden. It's the pockets you see. 

In the kitchen, it's a place to put everything from pot holders, to kitchen tools. The top pocket is where my MP3 player tends to hang out, so I can listen to tunes while I am working and or my cordless phone, and not have to worry about them winding up in the soup pot. Garden, same thing, everything from tools to seed packets, in the pockets they go.

Canisters and other storage goods:

Thanks to a member of my forum, I  have learned of a whole line of such goods that seem tailor made for us. From a company called OXO. These little goodies, can be opened with one hand. Push the button and up it pops, giving you a handy handle to take the top off, as the push the button move, has unsealed the container. So no fighting with the lid trying to get it off, on those days when our hands are just not working right. They have many other goodies you might find of interest as well.


Around the house:

Roll it don't lug it: 

We have all seen em, those handy little carts on wheels, fondly referred to as "little old lady carts." Well news, they have the right idea, why carry a thing in your arms or hands, if you don't have to ? My little cart carries everything from food to laundry. Up and down stairs mind you, as I live upstairs. It fits in my cars back seat with no problem, ( it folds up ) so it's right there when I get out of the car to bring things in.

I have two bungee cords around the handles to tie down anything I stack on top ( like laundry bags ). The only one who thinks it's a lousy idea is my cat, and that is only because while bringing it in one day fully loaded, she zigged when she should have zagged and got her tail ran over by it. Needless to say, she runs when she sees it coming now. However the cats opinion not withstanding, I don't know what I would do without it. :) Another handy way to put wheels under anything, is borrow the kids little red wagon.

Beds:

Near and dear to us all, is that torture device called your typical bed. A standard mattress and pillows, just does not cut it for most of us. So some possible solutions, that are short of replacing the entire bed.

Pad it:

Our bed has, I kid you not, three layers of padding on it. We started out with a padded mattress cover. Which helped, but it was not enough, so we added a small pad of foam under the cover. Again, for me anyway, not enough. To end up with finally, a 3 inch thick memory foam pad on top of the other two. That was finally, enough :) 

Now, it means I had to get some new sheets, the ones with deep pockets, as the top mattress was now a great deal thicker than before. But those are easy to come by. It's like sleeping on a cloud now :) The cost is less than a 1/8 of those beds, where the entire mattress is made of memory foam that you see for sale now a days.

Pillows:

Your standard, semi foam filled pillows, are a waste of money and time for anyone, much less us. I use a combination of two, one that is a mix of memory foam and small beads, that is strong enough to hold me up, no matter what. Yet soft enough to give as needed ( it does need to be fluffed a bit more often than most, but it is worth it ) Which is topped by another memory form type, this one being a little different than your normal ones, in that the entire surface of it is covered in small divots, about the size of a marble.

What this does, is help deal with a problem that we all tend to have, that being that we tend to sweat off and on all night and your pillow, no matter what it's made of, can get sopping wet. This one on the other hand, due to the built in waffling: One, catches most of the sweat and pulls it away from your face and B: will dry itself in short order by your own body heat. 

I have gone through a million pillows, this one however has been on my bed for going on 5 years now and you couldn't get it away from me, with a crow bar ! Ya pop either one in a dryer on medium heat once in a while and your good to go. (Note, you may have to make or buy larger than normal pillow cases for these, as they tend to be larger than a standard pillow case will fit )

Electrify it: 

By that I mean, anything from your tooth brush, all the way down to your broom. There is almost no household or personal tool in use today that does not have an electric, "read automatic" equivalent. Which includes the new "robo" vacuum that runs itself around the room. My cat would have hysterics, she thinks the regular vacuum is a "cat killer" but boy do I want one :)

Movable carts: 

The one thing that is a fact in most kitchens is the lack of counter space, which forces you to move and re-move things, over and over. My husband bought me a butcher block rolling cart with lower shelves ( those shelves are where a lot of things live, like my blender, crock pot etc. to keep them off what little counter space I have, but still handy to me ) but it's the top that saves me the most time, trouble and pain. 

When I am cooking and need to chop things or otherwise prepare something, I can move the cart right up next to the stove, ditto with filling up the plates later. In short, anything you need a counter top surface for, that's on wheels. Mind you, these things are not cheap ( I was a bit miffed at my husband for buying it at first ) but it's priceless in the kitchen and is well worth the cost.


In the car:

Pad the steering wheel: 

Ok so those fuzzy covers or leather grips can look funny, but if it spares you one moment of pain, worth it.

The keys: 

If your key does not have a large head already, you can buy slip-on plastic key covers that enlarge the end you have to grab and turn.

Large Rear-view mirrors: 

Panoramic they are called, which are the large mirrors that give you a wider view, this avoids a lot of turning and twisting around. ( I want one of these, but they are a bit costly to get a decent one, but soon, I will have one ) They even make them as clip ons, so they go right over your current mirror, no installation needed.

Also, spot mirrors, the little mirrors that give you a wider and longer view than the side mirror alone. These take some time to learn how to use. But they are literally life savers, in terms of the view they give you, that you do not have to crank your head around to see.

Gas cap wenches: 

Believe it or not, there are these plastic things, that will fit over most gas caps with a large plastic handle you turn, instead of trying to jam your hand down in the hole and use just your finger tips to get it off, usually breaking your nails in the process. Who thought that up that idea of a recessed cap anyway ? It had to be the same panel of guys who create cars, as nails never seem to be part of their design plan, for anything on a car. We cannot do much about the rest of the buttons, door locks etc., but we can deal with the gas cap ! :) 

Pad the seat belt:

A simple little thing, you can buy just about anywhere, that makes a padded place on the shoulder belt, you know that point where it rides right over your collar bone and hurts like all get out ? Yeah, that place, well these things come in all sorts and colors and are a blessing in the car. 

GPS: 

The God send of all machines. My husband got me one of these for Yule, and I would be lost without it ( Literally !!:) Punch in any address and by and large, it will get you there, with voice directions yet, so you don't even have to look at it. And even better, it will get you home, from anywhere. A must have for any of us.


Other goodies:

Longer is better:

For everything from toe nail clippers, to brushes to clean your feet. I don't know about you, but reaching down to do either one is a major pain, literally, to the point where it just is not going to happen very often, so these over sized tools are just the trick. The same goes for hair brushes and combs, larger is definitely better. Garden tools, too can be bought either longer from the start, so you can use your shoulder and arm to do the digging around, or you can get extensions that will fit on more common tools, to make them longer to help with any garden task. 

Back scratcher: 

Another oldie but goodie. I have a very simple one, made of bamboo, up in the letter rack on my desk and when those pesky spots that you never can quite reach and or would hurt yourself trying to reach start up, down comes my handy little stick to deal with that. Now why you ask, other than dealing with an itchy spot ? 

When your skin is itchy, unless it's from a rash or other skin condition, it is one step away from being in pain at that spot. It's the bodys signal, that if you do not deal with me soon, I will start to hurt. Scratching it, ( gently of course) massages and brings more blood to that area, often stopping it from becoming pain. Not to mention, skin conditions that create such itchy places are common for us.

Screw lidded, foam covered drinking glasses:

Now these things are the only glass I use at home, for several reasons. One, when I have a bad attack of clumsy going on, even if I knock the dang thing over, the screw down lid prevents any major disaster. Two, the foam A: keeps the drink cold or hot and B: makes it a lot easier to grab. and Three, the straw, I don't know about you, but cocking my head back constantly, just to get a drink is more than my neck is going to stand for. ( As an added bonus, any sweat on the real glass, never sees your hands, so no slip and drop.)

I keep a folded tissue in the edged coaster it sits in and sweat problem solved, what little there is. The edged coaster by the way, isn't really a coaster, it's actually a ceramic water tray for small potted plants. My husband happened to find them in a sale bin one day and thought they would make great candle holders, which they do, but we also found that they make great glass holders. The edge helps keep you from knocking over the glass in the first place : )

Large mouse pads: 

I have one on my desk that is the size of a small country. None of that pad the size of a postage stamp for me for one simple reason, repetitive movement. If you have a mouse pad that is the standard size you are forced to make tiny repeated moves, which does our hands in, in short order.  With the large pad I can use the  mouse from any position. ( I also use a cordless mouse, which I highly recommend ) 

Increase your reach: 

This can be anything from your common reachers, the handy dandy little tools that allow you to reach high or low to pick up something, available at most drug stores. To simple things, like a small step stool or ladder. Since most of us have balance issues, I suggest the former, the small step ladder. Find one that the top of it is also a carry handle.

This gives you, A: something to grab and balance as you get on the thing and if you lean it against the wall or counter ( which I recommend ) you can use it to lean on if you need to, as it's not going anywhere. Use the same rounded top, to grab as you go down. 

Do not use a chair to get up to something, as you will fall eventually, not to mention hurt yourself just trying to get up there. Our legs are not going to stand for hiking it up seat high and then lift our whole body weight with the same leg.  

Sewing: 

There are little goodies called a "stitch witch" both for hand needles and the sewing machine, that will, with the push of a button, tread the needle for you. Learning curve is about 5 min.. The ones for sewing machines are new, but the ones for hand needles have been around forever. And boy was I glad when they started making them again ( when I was young, they were common place ). 

I was at the swap meet, and a guy had a table full and was trying to explain what they could do, to those who had never seen them before. I walked up and said " thank you God" give me that. ( as my own had broken long ago and I had never found a replacement. The guy gave me one for free, since my walking up and using the thing in two seconds flat, showed the other ladies just how easy it really was. He sold a dozen of them while I was standing there. ) Any sewing or craft shop should have them.

Over sized scissors: 

Now a standard pair of scissors, as any of us who have not given up on sewing entirely knows, are the most painful thing in the world to use. But again, they do make them with easy grip handles, just for people like us. Furthermore, as stated above, electrify it, as when your doing a lot of cutting, those little power shears are a gotta have. ( Another neat little trick is sewing web, which is a fusing material you put between any two pieces of cloth you want to put together, like hems and interfacing, patchs etc. and steam iron it and the two become one, with no sewing at all ) A real blessing if you have kids, who always seem to manage to rip the hems out of pants etc. ( or a husband :) 

Head sets: 

Now this can mean anything from your phone, to your computer. I have had a head set for the phone, for literally years. As most of us, have wrist issues and lets face it, we often wind up ending a phone call, not because we have tired of talking. But because we have switched hands so often, that both hands hurt now. Head sets get around that whole issue, ditto for your cell phone. 

Purses and fanny packs:

Your typical large hand bag, as most of you I am sure have discovered, is a pain inducing devise for your shoulder, arms and back. My suggestion, and that of many body workers, is to let your hips do the holding with a "fanny pack" or utility style bet, rather than your usual hand bag. 

There are several reasons for this: A: It takes the weight off of one specific body part, in most cases your shoulder or arm and spreads it out more evenly. B: Remember the fog ? You are much less likely to "leave" a bag that is literally attached to your body, than your typical over the shoulder or clutch bag, as you WILL put it down, simply because, we women tend to stuff the bag to its capacity and it starts to hurt after a very short while.

The body bag on the other hand, forces you to "get organized" and carry only what you need to carry. They can hold quite a bit really, as they typically have a ton of spaces and places to put things. And do not forget the belt itself, for your cell phone case, a case for your sunglasses, etc, all threaded on the belt and therefore, handy to where you can easily find them. Rather than digging though your typical "dump" bag to find things.


Get organized:

Your desk:

My desk area looks like the sorting station at the post office. With small baskets for this, racks for that, pen and pencil holder with enough slots on it to store everything. Small drawers for holding all my medications. A stack of letter in-boxes and I do mean a stack, with everything from maps, to postal supplies, let's just say it's a good thing we don't live where there are earth quakes or the thing would be on the floor every week. But in short, if there is a way to have all the things you use and need, right there within arms reach, do it !

Pill boxes: 

Now, lets face it, most of us are on a ton of medications and or take lots of supplements and vitamins. Or your like me and do both. Now, I found it was very hard to remember to take the dang things. Until I remembered a very simple solution, pill boxes. I have four of em, count that, 4 of them sitting right here on the desk in front of my face, fully loaded with morning meds, night time meds and the middle one has all the "horse pill" vitamins and herbs in it. The 4th one holds my meds I take just before bed, and it lives on my night stand.

They are color coded so I know which one is which, as well has have the day of week on em, these simple little things ( coupled with a reminder that pops up on my computer ) keeps me up with them all, even if my memory has fogged out for the day. Cost, was around a buck each ! ( they have ones out now that have their own timers and reminders, built in. Needless to say of course, they will cost more )

Shelves, rolling drawers and more:

I have enough book shelves in my bedroom to house a small town library, which it does, however they also are home to almost everything else I need to store, like my racks of herb jars for example. ( which are mostly recycled plastic coffee containers, the ones with the hand grips on the side, gotta love em ) One shelf is our wine rack, there are spaces for bought in bulk supplies like paper goods and the like ( it looks like a small store in there ) 

But the reason for doing it was simple, as again, in most modern homes there is an almost total lack of storage space that is not buried in a lower cupboard somewhere or high over your head. Which for most of us means A: out of sight, out of mind and B: a pain in the back, neck shoulders.. ya get the picture, to get to. 

The broom closet is another space that became home to shelves, which houses the food and canned goods used daily. The ones used most, are right  in the middle where there is no reaching up or bending, to get to them. We put in the kind of metal shelves you normally see out in the garage, I mean, who is gonna see it ? :) ( in my current home, I have a whole room for pantry items, but they are still on standard, cheap plastic shelves .. the metal one now lives outside )

Movable storage: 

I have several drawers on wheels, the kind you can buy cheap anywhere. They house everything from all the computer supplies, inks, paper etc. to personal items. Now the neat thing about them is, you CAN move them to anywhere in the house they need to be. If your doing a project and all the supplies are in there, bring it to you, entire, instead of making trip after trip to get whatever you need from another room. And the top of it makes a good work space. ( they also can double as a side table, as for example, the one with all the computer stuff, holds my printer on top of it )

Totes and storage containers: 

Now I have these of all sorts and sizes, for just about any use you can name, from food storage, to my sewing supplies. Now a hint, remember fibro fog ? Make sure, that unless it's something you are just archiving, that the tote has at least clear sides so you can see whats IN it. It doesn't do a lot of good to store a thing, if you forget what it is. ( A lot of these, the large ones anyway, come on wheels now too )

Small dish racks:

You know the kind, the ones that are so small that unless you live alone and do not really cook, are almost useless for draining dishes ? Well they do have a use, several of them in fact. For one, keeping all the pot lids upright and easy to get to in the kitchen. All that stuff in the bathroom cabinet ?  The cotton balls, razors etc., there too, one small dish rack and wa la, all in one easy to reach into and if need be, take out all at once in order to look into it, place. The silverware holders are great places for all the little stuff. I am sure you can think of more stuff and places, they would work for and most often you can get them at any dollar store or second hand shop for cheap. They do save you a lot of reaching and hunting for things. :)  

Baskets:

Now as simple as this concept sounds, we often don't use them. We will make a dozen trips rather than one load, all at once. Now mind you, this is for the little stuff, not heavy duty, 40 lbs of wet laundry type stuff, but the light weight things. The object here is fewer trips, especially if your house has stairs. ( hint anything that is not breakable, and you need to get it downstairs, toss it down. )

I have a wicker one with a handle, that sits on a side table at my elbow, that is just for "have to save" receipts and such, until I get around to putting them in the file cabinet. There is another small narrow one in plastic, that sits in that otherwise useless space next to my kitchen sink. The soap, vegetable brush etc, all live there, which I can pick up the whole thing, to clean under it. Its mate, as they came as a set, lives on my desk to keep meds handy that will not fit in the pill boxes ( nasal sprays, eye drops, etc. ). Think organized and I am sure you can think of a dozen and one uses for such a simple thing, as a basket.

Divided hampers: 

These things have been around forever and can save you a lot of work if used properly, when it comes time to do the laundry. Just sort out the clothes, as they go in, so it's one less task you have to do come laundry time. They even come on wheels :) 

Tables:

By this I mean the folding variety ( yet another good idea from my husband :) literally at your elbow. Now in my case, this means, right next to my desk, as that is where I spend most of my time. The table is my  "catch all" when I come in, it is where things I need to reference for example, end up living. Its contents are always changing, but it puts everything I need or might need, that is too large to have a home on my desk, right where I can get at it. ( besides my desk is a bit busy with everything else I ask it to hold :)

It is light and again, easy to move, and folds up, if for any reason I have to unload it to make room and or, use it somewhere else. A small TV tray likewise, serves my husband as his dinner and laying on the sofa watching TV table. ( we live in a small one bedroom apartment and half of the living room is supposed to be the dining area, but neither of us see much sense in using up half the room just as a place to sit down to eat ) So that cheap little wooden table, wanders all over the room, depending on what its being used for. My larger plastic job, tends to stay right where it is, but it has gone on a few field trips :)

Coat racks and over the door hooks and racks: 

Yet another idea that is making a come-back. Now I mean the kind that are right up on the wall, the "accordion" style rack, where each item has its own peg. A standard stand up rack, often means your having to move coats and the like over and over, as they tend to get stacked on the rack ( as for most homes, your standard rack does not have enough hooks. Not to mention, given our typical state of having a "wandering walk" we are liable to knock the dang thing over anyway :) 

Mine lives right by my door, so it is the first thing to hand, to hang my purse, my hat etc, and right under it is where all the shoes in the house live, so off come the shoes too. ( If you walked in my door you would think you were in Japan, but they have the right idea, why track in outside dirt all over the house ? Not to mention, when it is time to go out, my purse, hat, shoes, umbrella etc., are all in the same place ). 

The same goes for the over the door type racks, like the back of our closet door, which is where most of the coats live, or the one in the bathroom, which is where the bathrobes hang out.. I think you get the idea, a separate hook for anything you need to hang, but where it is easy to get to. 

Ditto, for over the door racks for things like spices. Mine are all in a 3 layer rack that fits on the outside of the upper cabinet door, right next to my stove. Beats having to reach in and drag em all out and then put them all back, any day of the week :) Next on my list, is a rack, where all the bags, foil and wax paper are going to call home.  Most of these anymore, just hang over the door in question, no installation or screws needed. The reason being, a great many of us live in apartments, where the landlord would take it badly if we were to go poking holes in the cabinet doors. :)