*ADVERT – I was recently commissioned by Mobility Plus to give my thoughts on the following topic.
Arthritis is something that has touched our family. My nan has rheumatoid arthritis. If you’ve never heard of this, it’s an autoimmune disease, where your body’s own immune system attacks your tissues instead of germs and viruses which cause severe inflammation. She’s had it since she was 34 – the same age that I am now, and sadly, we have seen it get worse and worse over the years. She’s in her 80’s now, and she copes with amazingly, despite the immense amounts of pain she is. In recent years, it has left her unable to do more than hobble a couple of steps without holding onto something, but incredibly, she still lives independently in her own home.
Now, most of that is sheer determination (and a whole load of stubbornness – it clearly runs in the family!), but getting around would be much harder, probably impossible, for her if she didn’t have some aids and adaptations made to her home.
She scoots about downstairs in a normal wheelchair, using her feet to propel her. She can only do this around the house – there isn’t enough strength or movement in her arms to use them, and her feet can only take so much pressure. To get up and down the stairs, she has a stairlift and can manage the few steps to get to the bathroom and her bedroom with a push along frame. In the bathroom, she has a bath lift which allows her to lower herself in and out of the bath. There has been the odd moment where the control has run out of charge and she’s got stuck though! She has had that for years, but an alternative to this would have been a Mobility Plus walk-in bath. This allows users to step in and out of the bath, take a seat and enjoy a lovely long soak, without the fear of not being able to get out by themselves.
I love to see how she also comes up with her own adaptations and ways of overcoming issues. For example, when she doesn’t have enough strength in her wrist to turn the tap, she uses a wooden spoon to give it a whack, and she has a litter picker hooked onto her wheelchair to pick up anything that she drops. I guess more than fifty years of limited mobility would make you pretty creative at finding ways to do things!
Getting about and doing simple, everyday tasks can be pretty difficult for someone living with rheumatoid arthritis. As well as dealing with the pain in her joints, she has a whole host of other health problems that tend to come alongside this pretty horrible disease. However, the adaptations and aids in her home, as well as her determination, enable her to lead a pretty independent life, and I think that’s amazing, don’t you?