Innovations to Make Aging-in-Place with Arthritis Easier and Less Painful
Arthritis doesn’t give old, sore hands a moment’s rest. Every movement you make is a reminder of how even small tasks like opening up a drawer can make living at home as you age so much harder.
Smart aging-in-place design doesn’t just protect older adults from slippery floors. It should also attempt to alleviate the persistent pain and discomfort of living with the challenges old age presents – with arthritis being at the top of the list.
The Number of Older Adults Living with Diagnosed Arthritis is Staggering
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claims that 49% of adults over the age of 65 report doctor-diagnosed arthritis. So, even if your parent isn’t showing signs of sore hands now, every aging-in-place design upgrade you make should take arthritis pain into account to avoid pain in the future.
In this article, I want to tackle arthritis pain – specifically hardware and innovations that can make opening and closing drawers less painful. Why? Because most of us don’t spend one single day in our homes without opening up a drawer in the kitchen or bathroom. So, if we can reduce this pain, think of how much more comfortable your parent will be every day that they age in place.
Take Your Cue from the ADA
When you’re getting started, look to the standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), specifically their recommendations for drawer hardware and any design element that involves the turning of the wrist.
The ADA is the end-all-be-all of safe aging-in-place design standards. For drawer hardware to be considered ADA-compliant, it must meet the following standards.
- Operable with one hand
- Not require tight grasping, pinching or twisting of the wrist
- The force required to operate the hardware does not exceed 5 lbs.
Adding to their recommendations, I have a few of my own.
- Choose drawer handles that are at least 3-inches long so there’s plenty of space for your hand
- Choose rounded edges over sharp edges
- Choose thick handles over thin ones that are harder to grasp
- Add drawer slides that allow drawers to glide open
My 5 Favorite Drawer Hardware Products to Reduce Arthritis Pain when Aging-in-Place
There are several clever, simple-to-install, budget-friendly innovations out there to make opening a drawer much less painful. Here are 5 of my favorites.
Even with ADA-friendly drawer hardware, opening drawers can still cause some discomfort for adults with severe arthritis. A smart solution is adding a simple suction cup knob. That’s because, generally speaking, the larger the grip surface of a knob, the less painful it is to grasp.
These knobs are made to give sore hands a large surface to hold onto. The suction cup can attach to most surfaces. They’re a perfect DIY fix that anyone can do and will make an instant impact on the safety of your aging-in-place home.
You can find lots of other suction cup drawer knobs that do the same thing as this knob in multiple other colors, finishes and sizes. Check out this full list of Suction Cup Drawer Knobs for other great knob options.
Similar to a suction cup handle, you can place these stick-on handles right onto your drawers to reduce arthritis pain. What I like about these handles, in particular, is that they’re a handle – not a knob. Just add one or two to a drawer that currently has a knob and you’ll instantly make the drawer less painful to open.
I also love that this handle has a black option. Unlike white handles that can take away from the look of wood cabinets, the black handles look more stylish on most kitchen and bathroom drawers.
For more black cabinet hardware options, read my latest article, “Black Cabinet Handles for Aging in Place”
There are many other similar stick-on drawer handles to choose from depending on the size, color or finish that work best for your parent and with their drawers. Check out this full list of Stick-On Drawer Handles for more options.
Soft-Close Full Extension Drawer Slides
If you have arthritic hands, you want your drawers to slide open and closed effortlessly. These drawer slides do just that, turning your standard drawer into a soft-close drawer that reduces the pull and push strength you’ll need to open and close them.
What I also like about this slide set is its extension capability. It lets you add length to the slide track so your drawer fully extends. This makes it a lot easier for your parent to get to anything hiding in the back of the drawer.
Depending on the width and length of the drawers, find the right size for your parent’s kitchen or bathroom by checking out this full list of Soft-Close Drawer Slides.
Tools that make grasping small objects easier can be a big help for opening drawers, especially those with small knobs or thin handles that are usually painful for sore hands to grip. Find a grab arm like this one that has enough surface area to grip and hold onto a drawer handle. Then, once the drawer is open, a grab arm will also help your parent grab what they need from the drawer comfortably.
There are countless grab and reach arm options depending on your parent’s needs. Here’s a full list of Grab and Reach Arms to consider.
You can eliminate the need for handles and knobs altogether with a magnetic push latch system. A good quality magnetic latch opens a drawer with just a light push – light enough to not cause sore hands any pain. Or your parent’s grab arm can do the pushing for them.
This magnetic latch system works on drawers or cabinets. It’s also easy to install – a great DIY project. The system makes drawers close effortlessly, as well. And they stay closed and secure with the magnet holding the drawer in place.
You have several options when choosing a magnetic push latch for your drawers. Size is the biggest consideration. Here’s a full list of Magnetic Push Latches to choose from.
You Can Reduce the Risk of Arthritis Pain in Your Parent’s Home in a Just Few Hours
Adding a few clever drawer opening products to an aging-in-place home is one of my favorite DIY projects. It’s easy, takes just a few hours, and won’t break the bank. And, best of all, every one of these products will immediately reduce your parent’s risk of ever feeling the pain of arthritis as they age in place.
Bring home each of the products on this list and get to work this weekend. Let me know how you make out and, as always, leave your questions in the comments section below. I’m here and happy to help.
Good luck with your next aging-in-place home project!
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