A CHOICE reader sent us a question about vegetable peeler / chopper that are easy to use when you suffer arthritis. Does anyone have any suggestions they could offer?
I do not speak from experience but I had a friend who suffered from a very early age who said her problem was making a tight fist to grip thin handles so anything that could be done to make the grip larger was helpful. IIRC she got hold of some gadgets that fastened on to normal tools and gave them a much fatter handle. I don’t know what they are called or where she got them.
Some googling gives such a device specifically for tap handles and also tools having larger softer handles but not the gadget my friend described.
This is the one we use:
I don’t have great dexterity in my hands anymore but find this one is comfortable to use. Part of the OXO range, they can be found at times in Supermarkets, Variety stores eg Big W, Kmart and similar.
The knives displayed on the linked site may be helpful re the cutting in the kitchen as well as the cutting aids eg the board.
There are places in all major cities & towns (plus online) which stock/supply disability aids of all descriptions. For example, https://www.mobilityhq.com.au/living-aids/kitchen-aids/
I would think that the Arthritis Foundation would also have suggestions??
Edit: Arthritis Australia (https://arthritisaustralia.com.au/managing-arthritis/living-with-arthritis/managing-at-home/)
Arthritis Foundation is US based…
I use the OXO Good Grip peelers and Potato Masher . Nice chunky handles . The Betty Crocker range of products also has chunky handles especially the peelers .
Yes, we also have at least one specialist retail store ‘Lakeside Mobility’ on the Sunshine Coast that stocks a range of useful kitchen and household aids. There are others, we are still to visit when passing.
Buying on line may be cheaper and convenient, assuming you are confident the product suits your need.
I’m left wondering about gardening and handyman tools. Some have generous fat grips, while others EG garden hand tools, brickies trowels, wood chisels, have skinny handles.
While the primary needs are to assist older Australians in everyday living, there may be an newer and growing market with those who are more active as they age. The holly grail would be a cure for arthritis or a reliable way to prevent it.
I’ll not relate my personal afflictions. They are sufficient for me to consider future needs and solutions. Eg stretching rubber hose over tool handles, wood turning new fat handles for favourite tools, robotic arm with chain saw on tractor PTO.
Or even in a supermarket… The specialised outlets seem to carry some items that are easily obtainable elsewhere, but at much higher prices than normal.
I hope other members share links/information if they know of any suppliers, businesses, start ups etc which cater for this market.
I bought silicone door handle covers from the Australian arthritis support group called Creaky Joints. They are good, as long as the handle is ball-shaped. The lever type can be easier to open, but is still freezing to hold, in Tassie.
But sometimes a bit of luck or ingenuity is required.
One of my major problems has been opening small bottles, particularly tonic. After many years of cutting the metal lugs first, then a wet sponge grip for the lid, i now have a silicone cup that the bottle fits into, and a silicone garlic squeezer that fits over the lid.
I have also bought several of the new-style wide mouth screw top drink bottle for foods like sugar, as the lids are smaller diameter and thread is of better quality, than the usual kitchen container.
I knew exactly what I needed to open sealed jars. It was a gadget which when twisted, would grip the lid and the handle on top would do the gripping and turning. My Mum had one and it worked a treat for her. Now that I have arthritis in wrists and hands, I wanted one. Bought on ebay. Useless as a hat rack to a moose. Would not grip so turning was no good. I should check with local aids sellers.
Try googling Independent Living Centre (in NSW, looks like it is now called Assistive Technology Australia). You should be able to search by category and there are usually photos, specifications and suppliers’ contact details.
A bit more info - the Independent Living Centres have an information line as well as a display centre that you can visit to view some of the items, try them out and discuss your specific needs with an occupational therapist (appointment may be required). Makes an interesting outing, you’re bound to be amazed by the variety of useful gadgets on display!
Try to use as many vegetables and fruit as you can with just a wash and cook and/eat without peeling. There are a surprising number that are safe to eat without peeling. And, if you buy new baby carrots, potatoes etc they have a very, very thin skin which can be eaten almost without noticing! I have found that some of the peelers, dicers and slicers on the market are quite dangerous if your fingers do not always follow your mind’s instructions. Mobilityhq.com.au do sell what they call a multi purpose holder with strap handle. This tool has a thick handle into which you can push your knife, fork, spoon or possibly your everyday peeler! Hope this is of some assistance!
Very true in Australia (maybe not in other countries where food standards may not be to the same extent).
Many fruits and vegetables also have a lot of flavour in or just below their ‘skin’, and using a peeler to remove the skin one may be removing a lot of flavour and potentially ‘goodness’.
Washing in Australia is often needed only to remove soil/dust from the outer margins and to remove any other residues left on the skin (from its production, storage or handling).
If one then cooks the vegetables which are often peeled, then it ensures and pathogens left on the produce due to poor washing are killed. Vegetables like pumpkin can also be cooked in the skin, with the skin discarded upon eating.
While this may reduce the need for peelers suited for those with arthritis, other kitchen utensils such as knives, mashers, egg flips etc may need to be specifically sourced anyway where problems arise.
Yeah I have bought stuff via ILC before. Thanks
I have had 2 sorts of ‘proper’ gadgets - too much pressure required to grip, let alone turn, them. Soft silicone works much better.
The Victorinox Rex peeler, although it has a simple metal handle, is very wide and easy to use for an arthritis sufferer. The Swiss peeler by the same firm, with a quite wide plastic handle, is also good. Both are inexpensive
Technology for Ageing and Disability in SA (TADSA) is a small not for profit run by volunteers who design and make devices for a whole range of purposes if they’re not available elsewhere. They have designed a device to assist arthritic hands to operate a petrol bowser and many other things - from adaptations to wheelchairs and walking frames to special switches for those with limited movement to - well, pretty much anything you want. They have a website and most other States have a similar organisation. Costs are kept low due to the volunteer workforce.
I’ve had a few jars of Aldi’s Strawberry jam recently that I just could not budge the lid on . I bit the bullet went out to my tool box grabbed a Sidchrome Belt Car oil filter remover . Problem solved .
The Vic organisation is Solve.