I think it’s safe to say we all love gifts that make our lives easier and less painful. If you search online for gift ideas for people with psoriatic arthritis (PsA), you’ll find the same suggestions again and again — compression gloves, weighted blankets, pillows, and heating pads. Those products may help reduce pain, but they don’t do much to prevent it in the first place. Here are eight life-changing and pain-preventing gifts that have made my life with PsA easier to manage!
Lower back and shoulder pain forced me to give up vacuuming within a year of receiving my PsA diagnosis. I’m ever so thankful that my husband took over this chore without complaint, but his cooperation alone isn’t enough. He often travels for business, which means he’s not always home to clean the carpeted areas of our house. Our robotic vacuum takes the pressure off our shoulders. My husband still has to do a thorough vacuuming by hand now and then, but he’s not left with weeks’ worth of dog and cat hair to contend with.
For years I had to rely on my husband to open jars, and while I could open cans with a manual can opener, it wasn’t always easy. Electronic jar and can openers have been a game changer! No more having to wait for my husband to get home or torture my already aching hands.
When a flare stops me from sleeping, the last thing I want to do is to wake my husband. So I throw on wireless headphones and stream my favorite shows on my tablet. It puts a world of entertainment at my fingertips, without disturbing anyone else. Another advantage of watching shows on my tablet is that I can view it from any position I choose. When I’m watching a television that’s fixed in place, I can’t always find a comfortable position to watch in.
I love to read, but my hands aren’t always able to hold a book or my tablet. That’s where a virtual assistant comes in handy! Mine goes by the name of Alexa. She can read e-books and articles out loud to me, while my hands, neck, and eyes rest. My virtual assistant is also great at making lists. Instead of sitting down and trying to remember everything I need from the pharmacy or grocery store, I simply ask her to add each item to my list when I notice we need it. I can also set my virtual assistant to remind me when it’s time to take my medication, exercise, or eat. These reminders are priceless — especially when brain fog strikes.
PsA flares cause my internal thermometer to go haywire — so I can’t just set the thermostat at one temperature and leave it there. With standard and programmable thermostats, I have to get up and change the temperature or wait in frustration for my body to regulate itself. Now we use a Wi-Fi thermostat instead. It allows me to adjust the temperature without getting up at all.
When I’m going through a severe flare, it’s not uncommon for my husband to arrive home and find me waiting in the dark. Sometimes it simply hurts too much to stand up and walk to the light switch. My husband suggested that we buy wireless plugs and light switches. Using our home internet connection, I can ask my virtual assistant to turn lights on and off without adding to the pain in my feet, hips, or hands. This hasn’t just given me the gift of pain prevention, it’s also helped me maintain the independence that I might otherwise lose while flaring.
Voice-activated tech is fabulous, except when I’m the only one awake. As I make my way to the bathroom or kitchen late at night or early in the morning, I don’t want to wake my family by talking to my virtual assistant. That’s why it’s helpful to have motion-activated nightlights in place. They light my path and help me avoid tripping without having to speak or fumble for a light switch.
When I’m in the midst of a flare, our camera and security system let me see and speak to anyone at my doorstep without leaving my bed or sofa. Not having to physically answer the door every time has saved my body a lot of pain. It’s also helped saved me stress. One night, our camera recorded a man at the door listening for activity in our home and trying to peer into our windows. Through the speaker, I asked what he wanted. Instead of responding, he ran off. That’s the night I realized the difference that our security system made to my life with chronic pain. Although I was shaken up, my stress level was nowhere near as high as it would have been if the man had broken into our home.
When you have PsA, it’s not enough to treat pain after it occurs. To live well with this condition, we also need to find ways to prevent pain in the first place. Each of the items in this gift guide has brought improvements to my life that might seem minor to someone who doesn’t live with chronic pain. But combined, those little things have made a big difference to my daily routine and pain levels — allowing me to do more.