Arthritis just makes life more difficult. Perhaps this is more evident in the kitchen than anywhere else.
Arthritis can keeps you from performing everyday tasks such as cooking and even eating. You don’t want that. As you get older, you need to focus on maintaining your independence in every way.
If you have trouble cooking or eating because of arthritis, there are a number of options that can help. Here are some ideas for the best kitchen utensils for arthritic hands.
Arthritis and Your Hands
Arthritis can affect any joint in your body. But, it is most common in people’s hands. It causes pain and swelling and makes the affected areas stiff and immobile. There are a number of causes of arthritis but no cure yet. Most sufferers treat the symptoms and learn to work with their new limitations.
Because arthritis so commonly affects the joints in the hand, it makes cooking or eating utensils hard to hold. Once simple tasks like opening up cans and jars of food are suddenly difficult. This reduces your pleasure in this basic but essential need. Not eating properly leads to bigger problems such as malnutrition.
Food Prep Utensils
You are more likely to injure yourself in the kitchen while prepping food to cook. This is when the sharper tools are used. Also, this is when more hand strength is required. So, pain is usually greater here too. Using the proper kitchen utensils for arthritic hands helps reduce this pain.
Safety must always come first. If your hands are sore, swollen or weakened by arthritis, you may have trouble gripping knives in order to cut up food. A nasty accident may result.
If you still prefer to use a knife, there are many options with handles that are designed for people with arthritis. Some handles are thicker than normal handles. Some have lots of padding to make them easier to hold. Other knives have handles that are even twisted at a right angle to the blade so they’re easier and safer to use.
You can even find rocking knives. These cutting blades require much less strength and dexterity and easily cut almost any type of food. Try a few of these options to find out what works for you and your limitations.
If you still have trouble cutting food even with knives that are designed for arthritic hands, a slicer might help. These are made of plastic or metal and you only need one hand to cut food. A mandoline slicer is much safer and easier to use than a knife.
They also give you perfect results every time and make clean-up simple. Vegetables, fruits, and even hard cheeses are easily sliced by these helpful kitchen tools. There are also handheld plastic options that are much safer for weak or unsteady hands.
Chopping and Cutting Boards
If you have trouble holding onto food and cutting at the same time, it’s worth taking a look at your cutting board. Your cutting board should always be a safe and stable surface. So, if it slips on your counter, try putting a non-slip mat underneath. This will help you stay safe no matter what food preparation task you are performing.
There are also a number of options other than a traditional flat board. Cutting boards can be modified with built-up sides to stop food from slipping. Some even have prongs to hold items in place. These additions will hold the food in place for you. Then you are free to keep two hands on the knife.
You can also buy boards that have food graters or other helpful additions already built in. Before trying any of these options, consider how you use your cutting board and what features you are likely to use often. That’s the best way to get the most from your choice.
Ladles, Spatulas, and Peelers
The key element here is padding. If you have arthritis in the joints in your hand you will probably have trouble gripping handles. This can severely limit what foods you can cook, and even how you prepare or cook your meals.
Look for utensils that have padded handles that are made of a soft material and doesn’t hurt your joints. You should also make sure that the handle material is non-slip. This minimizes the chances of dropping them on the floor or into the pan. For an option that works for almost any limitation, try utensils with twisted handles that are designed for easier gripping.
Utensils for Feeding and Eating
Once you are done with the cooking you need to be able to eat what you’ve made. This can be difficult with arthritis because normal cutlery is usually small and hard to grip.
Standard eating flatware causes several problems for people with arthritis. Your fingers can slip and slide over metal handles. Or, you may lack the strength to press down and cut food into bite-sized pieces.
One option to help with that is cutlery with padded handles. These tools have a thick material on the handles that is non-slip and soft. That way, it won’t press painfully on your joints. You can also buy utensils that have handles that are angled so you don’t have to painfully twist your wrist to hold on to them. Combining these utensils with scoop plates or bowls really makes eating easier for many elderly people.
If one of your hands is more severely affected than the other, try some of the all-in-one options. These are utensils that have a fork on the end plus an edge for cutting food on the other. This type of flatware is very helpful if you only use one hand. There are also options that feature a spoon on the other end rather than a fork. These are great tools for people who have a lot of trouble with normal cutlery.
RELATED GUIDE: Soft Foods for Elderly People
Eating Utensil Clips and Straps
Another option that might help is eating utensil clips or straps. These are usually made of plastic, cotton or leather and help arthritic hands hold onto the utensils. They have a little pocket to hold the edge of the utensil. Then the strap fastens around the hand to help the user hold onto the fork or spoon easier. Some models even hold your spoon or fork completely if you can’t grip it yourself. These tools may not work for everyone. Some seniors say aiming the utensil is difficult. There are occasional complaints about them pinching the hand.
Learning to cope with arthritis is an ongoing adjustment. It can negatively affect so many different parts of your life. Arthritis in the hands affects everything from getting ready in the mornings to using a computer mouse. But there are many options that help you overcome your limitations and help you maintain your independence. Another idea is to use spill-proof cups if spills are common. You can learn more about those here. There are even special mugs for your morning joe too!
The ability to cook is key if you want to stay healthy and happy. Even if you only use a microwave for meals, you still need to stir and prep food. So, utensils for arthritic hands are very important tools. It is also not a bad idea to look into lightweight cookware for use in the kitchen. Experimenting with some of these options will help you enjoy cooking and eating once more, and give you back an important part of your life.
Do you have any tips or suggestions to help arthritic hand pain in the kitchen? Is there a tool or gadget that you have tried that helped? Let me know about it in the comments below!