Friday, January 6, 2012
10 EVERYDAY TASKS MADE EASIER...
For the 76 million Americans, and heavens only knows how many people from other races, who are living with chronic pain, simply getting through the day can seem like an uphill battle. Everyday tasks that others may not think twice about, such as getting dressed or driving a car, can become extremely difficult to accomplish. If you’re living with pain, making a few adjustments can make your daily routine much more manageable despite chronic pain.
Making Your Bed
Chronic pain can make getting out of bed in the morning a chore. Once you do get up, making that bed might seem impossible. First, don’t be a perfectionist when you’re living with pain. You don’t need hospital corners to get a good night’s sleep. Don’t even tuck the top sheet under the mattress — just smooth it out and arrange a comforter on top. If you must tuck, use a long-handled wooden spoon to push the sheet under the mattress.
Bathing and Grooming
Getting in and out of a bath or shower can be tough on people living with pain. Put a towel at the edge of the tub and sit on it to swivel in and out. Consider installing grab bars if pain makes you unsteady on your feet. In the shower or tub, sitting in a waterproof shower chair can also help prevent falls and make personal care easier. If blow-drying and styling your hair are difficult tasks, ask your stylist for a hairdo that is easier to maintain.
If you have chronic pain, just putting on clothes can leave you feeling worn out before you even set foot out of the house. Choosing clothes that you can easily slip over your head or step into is a good pain management strategy. Eliminate buttons if you have pain in your hands; choose Velcro or hook-and-eye closures instead. Assistive devices like zipper pulls or button hooks can make getting dressed a little easier; find them in stores and online.
Driving is no easy task for people living with pain. Just getting in and out of your car can be difficult, especially if you have cloth-covered seats. Consider installing a vinyl seat cover, or put a large plastic bag on the car seat to help you slide in and out. If arthritis pain makes it hard to grip the steering wheel or gearshift, try wearing golf or weightlifting gloves.
Lifting and Carrying
Lift smart, especially if you have back pain. Don’t try to lift anything that’s too heavy for you. When you do lift an object, lift with your knees, pull in your stomach muscles to support your back, and keep your head down and in line with your straight back. Keep the load close to your body. Reaching out to lift and carry an object can injure back muscles, causing more pain. Finally, don’t twist when lifting.
Cleaning the House
Few people like housekeeping, and those with chronic pain can find it quite exhausting. The first pain management tip is to pace yourself. Don’t try to tackle your whole house in one swoop; focus on a single room per day. Put a complete set of cleaning supplies on each floor of your home. Invest in a lightweight vacuum cleaner. Recommended by the Arthritis Foundation, the Oreck XL Upright vacuum is 8 pounds and has handles that reduce stress, strain, and pain in the wrists.
Pain management during shopping trips starts with wearing the right shoes. Cushioned, non-slip soles are best. Even if you’re picking up only a few things, use a shopping cart for support or, if available at your market, use a motorized one. Purchase a reacher from a medical supply store and bring it with you to get items from high shelves. If you feel pain in your hands because they’re sensitive to cold, bring gloves with you to wear in the frozen-food and refrigerated aisles.
Getting The Job Done
Being stuck behind a desk all day can exacerbate back pain. For better pain management, take short breaks to walk around the office. Sit in a chair with good lumbar support. Place a pillow or a rolled up towel behind the small of your back for even more support. If using the computer causes pain in your hands or wrists, wiggle your fingers and stretch your hand muscles every 15 minutes. Consider placing a wrist support next to your keyboard to help prevent further strain.
Having a furry or feathered friend can be soothing, but a pet needs your care even on days when your chronic pain is at its worst. When taking your dog for a walk, make sure you have a thick leash with a handle that’s easy to grip to lessen hand pain. Place pet supplies on a low shelf that’s easy to reach, especially if pain or disability has you confined to a wheelchair. If pain gets worse and you need help, call in reinforcements, such as a pet sitter or dog walker.
Opening medicine bottles can be a frustrating task when you’re living with pain — especially when what’s in that bottle could help bring welcome relief. Some over-the-counter pain medications now come with easy-open bottle caps. Medicine bottle openers that are easy to grip are available at drugstores and online. Simple tools like these can help make every day a little less painful for you.