It is estimated that 26% of US adults will be diagnosed with arthritis by 2040. Arthritis and neurological impairments such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy or Parkinson’s can affect your mobility and it can have a negative impact when working in the kitchen.
When you suffer with limited mobility, preparing meals and cooking can be a challenge. It can be painful on your joints and it can also impact the way you may eat.
There are a number of kitchen aids and gadgets that are available which can help with common tasks and make life simpler and easier and help you stay as independent as possible in the kitchen.
In this article we will cover some of those gadgets and aids which can help to simplify tasks in the kitchen and reduce the strain on your limbs, which are suitable for anyone who suffers with debilitating conditions that impair their movement and flexibility.
One-Handed Chopping Board / Swedish Chopping Board
When you have limited mobility in one arm, cutting vegetables and other food items with just one arm can often be dangerous and extremely difficult. Users can often struggle to grip food while cutting it which means food often flies off the kitchen workspace.
An invaluable kitchen aid is a one-handed chopping board also known as a Swedish chopping board. This multifunctional chopping board contains a number of useful features which allows users to prepare food with just one hand more easily and safer.
Such features include prongs to hold the food in place so they can be peeled and cut. It has a clamp so that it can hold food in place while cutting and it can also be used to hold bowls for mixing, stirring as well as opening jars. Apart from these features, it has a grater and slicer and it has suction feet beneath it to prevent the board from slipping when in use.
A simple task such as attempting to butter a slice of bread with one hand can often mean that the bread will slide all over the place.
A spread board makes this task much simpler. A spread board contains an L-shaped walled corner which keeps the food in place. It’s great for buttering bread or cutting up fruit and vegetables single-handedly.
Right-Angled Handle Kitchen Utensils
With conventional kitchen utensils such as a bread knife, a user needs to twist their wrist and exert downward pressure with their hand which could be painful for arthritis sufferers or individuals who suffer with an impaired grasp. In order to remedy this problem, right-angled handle kitchen utensils have been designed for arthritis sufferers.
As the handle is angled at 90 degrees, it promotes a more natural position with the wrist and hand and it reduces the stress on these joints and it makes it more comfortable for the user. This means less strength is required to cut a piece of bread or grate some cheese.
Most right-angled utensils come with ergonomic, non-slip and soft-touch handles which helps to promote a better grip. There are a wide range of these types of utensils including spatulas, cheese slicers, and knives as shown below:
Carving Knife with Right Angle Handle
Hand Grip Reacher
For anyone who requires the use of a wheelchair will know that grabbing items from hard to reach places such as from a top shelf can be problematic.
A simple to use hand grip reacher can make picking up items from the floor or from high places easier.
The clamp on a grabber can be controlled by pressing down on the handle. There are a wide number of different types of grabbers and many come in a range of sizes to suit different needs.
The below grabber from Ettore comes with a rotating rubber clamp that can rotate at 90 degrees which means it can pick up items in tight spaces from any angle. Despite it being lightweight, it can securely hold up to 5 pounds in weight so it is a great multi-purpose grabber that can be used in the kitchen. The Ettore Grib’n Grab comes in two different sizes including a 32 inch and a 52 inch.
Kitchen Trolley Walker
Carrying food and drinks between rooms can prove challenging for anyone who is unsteady on their feet and may require the use of a walking stick or a rollator to manoeuvre around the home.
A kitchen trolley walker is an ideal walking aid for anyone who requires some additional support while on their feet. It has been designed to help carry items in the kitchen as well as around the house safely.
The use of a trolley walker can help to reduce the risk of falls as the user can carry household items while their hands remain safely on the walker’s hand grips and therefore remain properly supported.
Most kitchen trolley walkers are height adjustable and some come with lockable breaks. The trays on some trolley models can be detached so they can be cleaned when required. The trays will usually come with high edges in order to prevent items from slipping off as well as preventing spillages.
Operating scissors when you have arthritic hands or you suffer with limited hand or grip strength can be uncomfortable and as well as painful.
A good alternative to standard scissors for arthritis sufferers is self-opening scissors. These types of scissors can reduce hand strain as they automatically reopen after every cut which means they can prove less painful to use.
Bottle, Jar and Can Openers
Opening a jar or easing a stiff cap off a bottle can often require significant strength. When an individual has limited hand dexterity due to arthritis or maybe due to a stroke, this task can prove cumbersome and many times virtually impossible.
Fortunately there are a number of kitchen aids available which can help with the opening of jars, cans and bottles which can alleviate the strain on a user’s painful arthritic joints.
A jar grip can be used to remove stubborn lids on jars more easily. Jar grips are made from flexible non-slip rubber, they are placed on the jar’s lid and it can helps to improve the user’s grip. They come in a range of different shapes and sizes to open all types of jars.
One Touch Jar Opener
An alternative to a jar grip is a one touch battery operated jar opener. It automatically opens a lid with a touch of a button and it adjusts to fit all types of jar sizes.
In order to use one, you simply place it on the lid, you then press the button and the opener does the rest of the work for you.
Bottle Lid Twist Gripper
Twist grippers are a useful aid to open lids on bottles. They contain an ergonomically designed handle which can be used to unscrew different sized caps allowing users to exert minimal effort.
Ring Pull Can Opener
For cans with a ring pull opening, there are openers available for these types of can. To use one, you simply slide it under the ring pull, you then pull on the tool’s grab handle in order to lift the ring pull easily back.
One Touch Can Opener
For cans that don’t have a ring pull opening, a one touch hand-free can opener can be used instead.
Simply place the can opener on top of the can and press the button and the opener will automatically open within a few seconds.
Hands Free Automatic Stirrer
Preparing gravies and sauces can often require regular stirring, when you have rheumatoid arthritis this can make your joints painful and it can make your condition even worse.
Thankfully there are a range of automatic hand-free stirrers available that will take all the hard work out of making a sauce or gravy and it will mean no more achy joints.
The below StirMATE Smart Pot Stirrer can stir up to 13 hours per charge and it self-adjusts to a range of pot sizes (6-12 inches in diameter and 3-9 inches in depth).
Cutting up vegetables or attempting to cut up herbs finely can often cause problems for users who suffer with arthritis or have limited hand dexterity. A food chopper can make chopping vegetables or herbs easier as it avoids having to use a knife which reduces the pressure on the hands and makes the process so much quicker.
In order to operate a food chopper, you simply need to press down on the soft knob with the palm of your hand and its blades will chop your vegetables evenly.
The below food chopper from OXO contains a non-slip knob which makes chopping safer and easier and the blade unscrews for speedy cleaning, it’s also dishwasher safe.
A clamp-on peeler as the name suggests clamps onto a countertop or table and it enables vegetables or fruit to be peeled with just one hand. The one-handed peeler is a useful aid for anyone with limited hand dexterity who has difficulty gripping a knife or handle peeler.
For anyone who is unable to stand up for prolonged periods of time while in the kitchen, a perching stool can be a good way to perform your chores while remaining seated.
Perching stools are height adjustable so you can stay comfortably seated whether you’re sitting at the kitchen counter preparing food, at the stove cooking or by the sink washing the dishes.
Most perching stools are made from sturdy but lightweight aluminum which means they’re easy to carry around the kitchen and they can be conveniently stored away when not in use.
The following perching kitchen stool from Drive Medical comes with a padded seat and backrest, it also comes with arm supports which can be adjusted to suit different width requirements. The seat is angled which reduces the strain on the lower body when sitting down and getting up.
Ergonomic Pots and Pans
When you have rheumatoid arthritis lifting heavy objects in the kitchen such as pots or pans can be especially difficult and painful on your joints as well as unsafe.
Think about replacing heavy pots and pans with lighter substitutes that will alleviate the strain on your joints and reduce the risk of accidents occurring. Ensure you use pots and pans that have two handles, this will allow you to distribute the weight evenly when lifting a pan with both your hands.
Consider pots and pans that come with ergonomic handles. The below saucepan from Eazigrip comes with an angled handle which makes it easier to pick-up for users with reduced hand mobility. The angle of the saucepan’s handle allows the wrist to stay straight when picking it up which helps to reduce the stain on the hands and wrists.
Contour Knob Turner
For users with reduced hand dexterity, turning small knobs, dials and handles can be an issue.
The contour knob turner is a handy device that provides extra leverage to turn small and difficult to operate knobs.
The device contains steel rods that retract and which grip onto objects such as an oven knob. It allows someone to exert minimal effort when turning knobs.
A slow cooker is perfect for one-pot cooking. It allows you to cook nutritious meals with very little stress.
Slow cookers are perfect for arthritis sufferers too. Throw your ingredients into the cooker and it will cook tasty meals for you to enjoy that require very little effort and prep work. It avoids having to stand over a hot stove and it reduces the amount of washing up afterwards.
Plates and Cups
Round Scoop Dish
A scoop dish has a curved wall around the dish which can help users to guide their food onto their utensils. This type of dish is recommended for one-handed eaters as well as for users who have arthritis or who may suffer with tremors due to Parkinson’s and it can promote independent eating.
The dish contains a non-slip rubber coated base which helps to prevent it from sliding and reduces spills.
For standard plates, a plate guard can be used which clips onto the edge of plate and assists with one handed eating.
The guard can be attached and removed easily. The contour of the plate guard helps to keep the food on the plate and allows users to scoop their food onto their utensil with minimal effort and it helps to reduce spills.
Partitioned Scoop Plate
An alternative to a regular round scoop dish is a partitioned scoop plate. The plate has different compartments to keep food separated and it has a wall which helps to scoop food onto eating utensils.
Non-Slip Placement Mats
Neurological impairments such as Parkinson’s can affect someone’s dexterity as well as cause hand tremors. In order to prevent plates and cups from slipping around while they eat, consider using non-slip placement mats which can help to minimize spills.
HandSteady (Adaptive Cup)
The HandSteady adaptive cup has been designed especially for users with reduced mobility who suffer with impairments such as arthritis, limited dexterity, joint pain or tremors.
The handle on the cup rotates which enables it to self-level using gravity. This means the cup can be held steady in mid-air which results in less spills. The handle on the cup is large enough to support up to 4 fingers which means it can be picked up with ease.
Easy Grip Cutlery
For the elderly and for Parkinson and arthritis sufferers conventional cutlery may not be entirely suitable. Someone who suffers with hand tremors may find that they struggle to use a conventional fork and knife. It is for these reasons, adaptive cutlery may be more suitable in these circumstances.
Adaptive cutlery differs from normal cutlery as they normally have wider and non-slip textured grip handles which makes them easier to grasp and hold onto as well as control.
Knork is a fork and knife in one. For anyone who has the use of only one arm, a Knork is ideally suited for them.
The outer side of the fork is beveled. To use the knife, all you need to do is apply a rocking motion in order to cut the food. It is suitable for both right-handled and left-handled eaters and the ergonomic design contours to the natural grip of the hand making it comfortable to use.
For one handed eaters, the use of a Knork can make mealtimes much easier.
Users who may have painful joints or suffer with restricted movement in their hands or wrists may find bendable cutlery more comfortable and easier to use.
As the name suggests, the head on the cutlery utensil can be twisted into a more convenient position as desired by the user. This allows an individual to more easily pick up their food from a plate and it reduces the movement that is required to feed oneself.