Tips for Cooking When You Have Arthritis

By: Elizabeth Scherer

Taking care of kitchen tasks can be particularly challenging for people with arthritis. There are many devices available that help with these tasks. See a physical or occupational therapist for suggestions. Use the following tips to make life around the kitchen easier.

Make Access Easy

  • Purchase a wheeled cart at your local hardware or home appliance store. Use the cart in the kitchen to move heavy items to and from the table or stove.
  • Keep pots and pans, plates, and glasses at a level where they're easy to reach. This helps to make sure that you don't have to reach unless absolutely necessary.
  • Consider installing a self-standing butcher-block cabinet so that you can chop at a comfortable level and have instant access to pots and pans or appliances.

Use Proper Cooking Utensils

  • Purchase a French chef's knife. Since it's sharper, it makes cutting, slicing, and chopping easier. A pizza wheel is also a good replacement for standard kitchen knives because it has a smoother, less joint-straining cut.
  • Substitute iron and glass pots and pans with lightweight metal ones.
  • Substitute heavy stoneware, Pyrex, glass bowls, and baking dishes for plastic and aluminum ones.
  • Buy ergonomic knives. Ask your doctor, physical therapist, or occupational therapist for suggestions on where to purchase these.

Open With Ease

  • Attach a strap onto handles that need to be pulled open, such as on the refrigerator door. You can loop your forearm into the strap and use your whole arm to pull it open.
  • Install an electric can opener in your kitchen. They are not very expensive and are easier on joints than the manual ones.
  • Buy a jar gripper or mount a wedge-shaped one on a kitchen wall to make opening jars easier on joints. Or buy a so-called lid lifter that breaks the seals of jars. A fork handle makes an excellent opener for ring-tops, such as those on soda cans.

At the Table and Cleanup

  • Set your plates on a rubber mat so that they're less likely to slip while you're eating.
  • Use utensils that have larger or thicker handles to make them easier to hold onto. Longer-handled utensils can also make gripping more pain free.
  • Place a rubber drink holder around your glass to prevent it from slipping when you're drinking. Use both hands to hold a cup, instead of grasping your fingers around the handle.
  • Use straws if lifting a glass to your mouth is too painful.
  • Hold plates and other flat items in the palm of your hand instead of grasping the edges with your fingers.
  • Sit on a stool while washing dishes so that you don't have to stand for long periods of time.


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