For an elderly person suffering from arthritis, not much hurts more than trying to open a can of food.
The squeezing and twisting action required of this task can be so excruciatingly painful to inflamed, stiff joints. Holding down a narrow button while waiting for the opener to complete its circle can seem like its taking forever when you’re in that amount of pain. Removing the sharp can lid is also a recipe for injuries in the kitchen.
But there are ways to open up your favorite canned foods without hurting!
Look through some of the types of can openers and the safest ones to buy below. Then, read through my recommendations to find the best easy to use can opener for disabled or arthritic hands. They’re organized by type, too, so if you have a particular type of can opener that you like to use, you’ll find an arthritis-friendly version below.
So, what are the Best Can Openers for Arthritic Hands?
Obviously, when looking can opener for arthritis, you want one that causes no or minimal pain. It should be highly functional and maybe even a little stylish. Cost is always an important consideration, as is safety features. Here are my nominees for the overall best can openers for arthritic hands. They’re organized by category (electric, under the cabinet, handheld automatic, manual, and pull-top) so that you can choose based on that as well. Read through and see what would work best for your situation.
The biggest reason for my recommendation of this particular product is the easy to use lever handle. It presses down without much force at all. Even the initial puncture of the blade is easy to maneuver. The handle can be pushed with the palm of the hand, or even the forearm. This saves any potential pain in the fingers or hand.
The blade of this device cuts the side of the lid rather than the top, leaving a smooth, safe edge instead of the typical sharp lid edge that can lead to dangerous cuts. To get a sense of the size of the product, it weighs about 3.1 pounds, and comes in at 5″ wide by 4″ deep and 9″ high. It’s definitely not handheld, but you actually want to stay away from a handheld can opener for disabled people, especially if they have arthritis.
Something else to think about is that this is the style of can opener that most people are used to using. There is no learning curve to using it. Elderly users won’t feel intimidated by it, and will be able to use it right out of the box.
It’s not very often I give a 5 -star rating to a product – but this one deserves it. To prove it, 81% of the reviewers on Amazon agree. They gave it a 5-star rating too.
This electric can opener uses a press-and-release lever system that makes it simple to open any cans. The magnetic lid holder is designed to keep cans secure. Once the can is in place, users don’t have to do anything but lower the lever. The can will open by itself.
Because the device has a wider-than-usual base, it won’t slide or tip when in use. The activation lever is easy to remove, and the can opener can be cleaned with ease. It’s a basic, simple-to-use device that can easily open any type of can.
This can opener doesn’t require users to hold down any buttons. Once the can opener is activated, it will automatically detect when a can has been opened. This allows for easy hands-free operation.
The device also offers a knife sharpener, which makes it an excellent choice for cooks. Seniors are at risk for knife injuries, and serious cuts are often caused by knives with dull blades. This simple safety feature can ensure that all of the knives in the kitchen are safe to use.
This handheld can opener may appear intimidating at first, but it is actually very simple to use. Just line up the blade and wheel against the edge of the can and press the button. The can opener will cut around the side of the lid automatically – no hands required. It will also shut off once it has completed the cycle.
It is shaped almost like a computer mouse, so it’ll fit securely and comfortably in your hand while you’re placing the blade. The handheld compartment is also made out of plastic, so it is much more lightweight than its counterparts. Only the blade mechanism is metal, and its housed by this safe plastic material, so this entire device has a very safe design. Once the can is open, this can opener holds onto the lid via a magnet, and then the lid pulls off of the magnet easily. No sharp edges too!
It’s 4.8 inches long by 2.9 inches wide and 2.4 inches high, and only weighs 7 ounces. This is another excellent choice for elderly seniors and people with arthritis because it is completely hands-free.
However, it also requires 4 AA batteries to operate, which aren’t included in your purchase. also There have been some complaints about this can opener not being very durable. This is a common complaint about this entire category though. Because they are so small, people tend to say they lack the power needed to open large cans. I researched this category well and this is the highest rated handheld can opener and one of a few that had more than a 3-star rating. If the can opener will be used heavily, I would recommend the heavy duty Hamilton Beach can opener above
This one-touch electric can opener can automatically open all sizes of cans in a matter of seconds. The device cuts into the sides of the can, which means no sharp edges are produced. The single press design requires just one hand, making it an excellent option for people that suffer from arthritis.
The small, flat device can easily be stored in a kitchen drawer when not in use. It’s far easier to use than manual can openers, and it’s more effective too. This handy little device belongs in any kitchen!
This easy to use can opener features chunky grips and an oversized crank mechanism, making it easy to use even for those who have stiff or aching hands. The cutting wheel is sharp and made from stainless steel, and is designed for maximum hygiene, producing a smooth edge to the can, and not touching the contents.
There is even a set of built-in pliers to remove the lid so users don’t have to risk cutting their fingers when lifting the lid up, or have to worry about cross-contamination during food prep.
While some of the “accessible” can openers on the market look more like alien space ships, this Swing A Way can opener looks more like the traditional type that you probably grew up using. This easy crank can opener is made from stainless steel, with a robust, cushioned grip for comfort. The traditional butterfly handle is replaced with a long crank handle which offers extra leverage, reducing the strain on your hands and wrists when you are operating the can opener.
The high-carbon cutting wheel is sharp and promises skip-free can opening, and there’s a built-in bottle opener (Click here for more bottle openers for seniors) too for added convenience. If you’re looking for a kitchen aid for seniors that “just works” and that wouldn’t be out of place in a younger person’s kitchen this is a great choice.
This is just one of several Swing A Way can opener models. If you find that the easy-crank isn’t quite up to the job there are other designs, including one with a fold-out crank handle that is even longer than this one, giving more leverage. For those who struggle with the twisting motion of a butterfly can opener, one of the Swing A Way models is a good solution.
Swing A Way have a good reputation in the world of accessible kitchen aids. This wall-mounted can opener is a good choice for those who want the convenience of having a wall-mounted device, but who dislike electric can openers for being too quirky and unreliable. This can opener is incredibly tough and durable, and can be trusted to serve its owner well for many, many cans.
Once the can opener is secured to the wall it can be locked in one of three positions, allowing the owner to choose the angle it is kept in when not in use. It has a built-in magnet that assists with lifting can lids up, and the crank handle is long to provide maximum leverage. This is a handy device both for those with limited hand strength and mobility and for those who simply do a lot of cooking and opening cans, who want a simple and hassle-free solution.
While not a general can opener, this little gadget has a definite place in the life of a person with arthritis. This opener is specially designed for pop top or ring pull style cans like on tuna, pet food, and such. Those types of cans can be difficult for anyone to open – arthritis or not. Prying them open is much simpler with this!
This device uses a prying action to lift these types of ring pulls without hurting your fingers or hands, or breaking your nails. Its giant hook top goes under the ring pull of the can and gives you leverage to easily pull it up without any hassle. The curve is also lined with rubber to ensure that it stays securely on the lid while you’re pulling it (and the lid doesn’t fly off once it comes loose).
It has a super wide handle as well that’s ergonomically designed, making for easy gripping. This part is also lined with rubber to ensure a secure, comfortable grip while adding leverage to your grip. Overall, this handy little device is about 4 inches wide by a half inch thick, and 9 inches long weighing 3.2 ounces.
Best Types of Can Openers for the Elderly
It is very important that seniors have a can opener in their kitchen that is easy to use. Many nutritious and easy to cook foods come from cans, so being able to pop open a can of soup and other soft foods that seniors eat and throw it in an easy to use microwave oven will improve their independence in the kitchen. Quickly heating up a bowl of oatmeal while making their morning coffee will encourage better eating habits as well.
Can openers come in a variety of types. Some have to be cranked manually while others run on electricity or batteries. It is important to understand how each different type works before choosing a can opener for the elderly or those with arthritis.
Manual Can Openers for Seniors
These look somewhat like a pair of scissors with a turning handle on the end. To use this type of can opener, the handles must be squeezed tightly together to break the seal on the can. While still squeezing with one hand, the other hand must turn the crank wheel. This moves the can opener around the edge of the can until it makes a full circle. Then, the lid can be removed.
For people suffering from arthritis, manual can openers are nearly impossible to use. Every step in using this type of can opener is going to hurt. Gripping the handles tightly and squeezing them continuously will cause sharp pain in the hand and knuckles. Turning the crank will make the wrist ache. There isn’t a good way to avoid it with this type of can opener. It also creates a sharp edge around the lid, which can be hazardous.
Electric Can Openers for Seniors
This is the type of can opener that most people are familiar with. They plug into a wall outlet and generally sit on the counter top. Some mount under the cabinet for space saving. To use one, a lever arm with a blade is pressed onto the can’s lid to break the seal. Then, the arm is held down and a motor advances the can around until it makes a full circle. Many shut off once the lid has come off.
The difficulty here for arthritic hands is holding the lever down long enough, especially if the lever is small and only fingertips fit on it. It is painful to hold the fingers straight that long, too. Some elderly people, or those with arthritis, will not have the strength to make the initial puncture of the lid as well.
Handheld Automatic Electric Can Openers
This style of can opener is usually powered by batteries, although some use rechargeable batteries with a built-in charger. These are smaller in size than other can openers. They lock onto the edge of the can, then a button is pushed to move them around the edge. Many of these are automatic and hands-free.
In theory, this style is a good choice because most are fairly hands-free in their operation. However, there are many cheap versions on the market that aren’t worth what people are charging for them. Read reviews for automatic handheld can openers carefully to see if its a legitimately hands-free device.
Pull Can “Pop Top” Openers
These are designed to help open cans will pull top lids, like the ones found on tuna cans and pet food cans. They work by giving extra leverage to lift the pull tab, usually with an added easy to use lever or a similar mechanism.
Usually, these are super helpful for people with arthritis because it is difficult to get an arthritic finger through the pull hole without pain. Make sure the handle is robust enough not to require a tight grip, though.
Choosing a Safe Can Opener
There are few guidelines to follow if you’re looking for a can opener for arthritis ridden hands. Generally, stay away from can openers that require tight squeezing or gripping to operate. Manual crank wheels are usually a bad idea as well, as this motion can really flare up the arthritis. This is especially true if the crank wheels are small and require more precision.
Also, some can openers have small buttons or levers that need to be held down for relatively long periods of time. This can be extremely painful, or even impossible, for people with arthritis in their hands. Some can openers with levers that require a lot of strength to puncture the lid also won’t work for arthritis sufferers, as they don’t have enough strength in their hands to operate this kind of mechanism.
The best safety feature to look for is a smooth edge can opener design. This means that the cuts made to the lid of the can with come out smooth and won’t cut or scratch the handler. This is one of the most common safety concerns when it comes to can openers, because a cut from a metal can can be extremely painful and dangerous.
Also, you’ll need to look for a low pressure, ergonomic handle as well. This is a safety feature mainly for people with arthritis because without it, it could cause a flare up and damage the hand, fingers, and wrist that could be irreparable.
To pick the best, safest can opener for people with arthritis, check out some smooth edge can openers with easy to use features. The less work, the better. Any extra pressure or motion can be hazardous for people with this condition, so keep it simple.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Arthritis pain interferes too much with the quality of life for many seniors and elderly. Painful swollen joints make everyday items like can openers difficult to use. There are home remedies that help with arthritis and exercises for the wrists that help too. But, everyday household tools like these are also very helpful.
Look through the options above for can openers that are easier – and less painful – to use. There are also automatic and manual jar openers to help seniors with arthritis or weak hands. Lightweight pots and pans are also very helpful at relieving arthritis pain in the kitchen. Don’t forget to look at easy to use toasters too!
My top pick of the best can opener for seniors with arthritis is the Hamilton Beach model. It is easy to use, looks great in the kitchen, doesn’t take up a lot of room, and doesn’t break the bank either.
Hopefully, this list of the best can openers for arthritic hands is helpful. Let me know in the comments if you have a product you recommend or any other can opening tips for my readers!