Jean is 83 and lives alone at home in Stockport. She has arthritis affecting many of the joints in her body, making her life increasingly difficult. She finds that using certain aids to daily living have assisted her and reduced her discomfort.
Jean’s arthritis impacts many of her joints, but the most debilitating is the back pain this causes. Because the lower back bears so much weight, it is in this area where most people experience pain, and she is among them.
There are a number of forms of arthritis affecting the back and in particular the spine. The condition initially causes stiffness and usually become increasingly painful over time. Inflammation arises where bones connect to tendon tissue. In severe cases it leads to spinal joints fusing together. This creates a major loss of mobility and various knock-on consequences.
As the body tries to adapt to the back’s lack of mobility, other tendons, muscles and joints fall under great stress.
At 83, Jean has lived with arthritis for over 20 years. The pain in the lumbar area of her back makes it difficult to stand up for long periods. It also makes it difficult to get to her feet from a sitting position.
Small Change, Big Difference
For many years she struggled using the toilet. The strain it placed on her back when rising from a sitting position was both painful and difficult. For the last four years she has used a
raised toilet seat to help her. It attaches to the toilet with some turn-clamps and increases the height of the seat by four inches.
This seemingly small change made a big difference. Jean found that by reducing the distance of travel from sitting to standing, her back was now under much less strain. This eased the pain in her back. She also had a support rail fitted next to the WC. Using this which further reduced the pressure on her lower spine.
After finding out what a difference it made, she then took similar steps with other chairs around the home. She fitted a booster cushion to her armchair, which again raised its height.
In the kitchen, she uses a perching stool when preparing food at the worktop. This takes the strain off her back while allowing her to reach things as if she was fully standing.
Along with the raised toilet seat, she uses a range of tools in the bathroom which help her in various ways. Jean’s back trouble makes getting in and out of the bath difficult. While she has tried using a bath seat fitted with suckers inside the bathtub, the strain placed on her back when trying to get out is still too great.
She is lucky enough to have a walk-in shower, so now uses this instead of the bath. Even standing up unsupported for the duration of the shower is uncomfortable so she looked at a range of
shower seats which might help.
Because the cubicle is relatively small, a freestanding stool was not ideal. Instead she opted for a seat that would fold up against the wall when not in use. Jean has found this to be a great space-saver and ideal for her situation.
As arthritis has gradual reduced her mobility, she is now using a walking frame to get around the house. Its handles had fairly narrow handles which she found irritated the arthritis in her fingers and made the frame painful to use. To combat this, she built up the handles using tape usually designed for the grips of tennis raquets!
She lives in a single story bungalow, so does not have to worry about climbing stairs. The one steps she has to climb are the two up the front door. A handrail makes them easier to negotiate.
Outside, a mobility scooter gets Jean to and from the shops. While it took some getting used to and she has to plan her route to avoid high curbs, it now gives a sense of freedom she had lost.