Everyone needs their personal space. While most people have a social side, there is a time and a place for strictly personal functions. A warm bath or shower. Or dressing in the morning. Or drying one’s hair or clipping nails.
Arthritis persons often rely on caregivers to provide these personal services. But there are several problems with this. First is the issue of reliance. While it is all well and good to rely on a spouse, this care may not always be consistent if the spouse begins to experience medical problems.
Most important is the basic human need to take care of personal functions by one’s self. Self-esteem is rooted in self-reliance. For example, the ability to bathe on one’s own with the help of arthritic aids may encourage the development of other healthy patterns.
In fact, in 1995 researchers at Arizona State University studied situations in which a spouse had rheumatoid arthritis while the other spouse did not have this disorder. Results of the research strongly show that the behavior of one spouse to the other affects the health and well-being of the spouse experiencing arthritis.
Few personal functions are quite so personal as those that happen on the toilet. Soon after we are born, our urinary patterns and bowel movements become almost a public spectacle. It is discussed at length by our parents. It is sometimes on display in public places when diapers are changed.
But by the time we are older, we have reclaimed our personal toilet space. It is ours and it is forever private. Or so we think. For arthritic persons, personal toilet habits often become semi-private, shared with spouses or caregivers.
Arthritic persons can reclaim their personal bathroom space with special toileting aids. These range from elevated toilet seats or seats with support bars to more intimate items such as toilet tissue tongs and extended toilet wipers. With this wide variety of tested, hygienic aids, arthritic persons should feel no need to sacrifice self-reliance while performing toiletry functions.
“Rings and things and buttons and bows,” goes the cheerful, popular song from the 1940s. But ask any arthritic person who is trying to close up her blouse, and she’ll tell you that buttons do not make for a happy song.
Buttons and zippers. Do you remember the day when zipper tabs were large enough to actually grasp? How much smaller and more difficult can they make them? The fact is, buttons and zippers have never been easy.
Neat little zipping and buttoning gadgets for arthritic persons help make this process easy and comfortable. How about rubber-gripped zipper pulls? Or button threading aids? Or nice T-handled zipper pulls?
Velcro buttons eliminate the need for buttons altogether. And what about those frustrating zippers on the backs of dresses or blouses? An eighteen-inch corded zipper pull lets any lady close it up herself—all without asking, “Honey, would you come here for a moment…?”