When it comes to chronic pain there are lots of different tools, aids and techniques that we can use to help manage it. Movement, medication, pacing and more can all support us to keep doing the things that we love. For me, daily living aids and tools are one of the things that help me stay independent, and also help me reserve energy for doing the things that matter the most to me. Of course, we still want to challenge our bodies to keep moving, so too many tools and aids can lead to deconditioning, but the right balance can make life a lot easier.
One of the first daily living aids I ever used was a sock aid. This is a small device that you can use to put on socks without bending down. It was first introduced to me after my hip replacement surgery, and since then it’s helped me to retain my independence, even on my worst days. Beforehand if I wasn’t able to bend down to put my socks on I would usually just stay in bed, but now I can get up and dressed, which almost always makes me feel better when my pain is flaring. Sometimes, it’s the little things!
Cooking is something that I have built up to being able to do over the years, and daily living aids have been a huge part of making that possible. Things like jar openers, utensils with wider grips and various cutting tools have meant that I can make myself something more than just a microwave meal for lunch. Daily living tools can come in all shapes and sizes though, and I’ve found that gadgets that aren’t necessarily marketed towards disabled people have made the most difference to my life. For example, having an automatic hot water dispenser rather than a kettle means that I don’t have to put pressure on my wrists when making a hot drink. You might also find that using an electric food processor, rather than manually chopping food, can help you save energy.
Of course you have your more standard daily living aids and tools that you might think of, such as grab bars and rails, shower seats and kitchen stools. Climbing the stairs is probably one of the most challenging things I do during the day, but having grab rails on either side helps me massively. It means that I’m not wasting all of my day's energy on something simple like climbing stairs, energy that I’d far rather use working or socialising. For me that’s what daily living aids and tools are all about, reserving energy for doing the things that matter most to you. Showering, cooking and getting about our houses are all essential things, we can’t change that, but there are things we can do to make sure that they don’t eat up too much of our energy.
It’s all about experimenting with what works best for you really, and as always, using tools and aids in conjunction with other things like pacing, movement and medication. You can learn more about how to use all of these tools and techniques in the Leva Clinic Pain Management Programme.