Unfortunately, your daily responsibilities won’t just go away because you’re dealing with ongoing back pain and mobility issues.
But as someone living with ankylosing spondylitis, you can make changes to your lifestyle and home to ease your symptoms and prevent disease progression.
Consider these 10 simple ways to make your home life easier so you can take care of your house, your family, and, most importantly, your health.
1. Designate a relaxing space in your home
It can be difficult to relax at home if you’re surrounded by noise and clutter. Try to mimic relaxing spaces you’ve been to by recreating them in your own home.
You could do this to a whole room, a part of your bedroom, or even a portion of your outside space. Make this area your own and come to it every single day, even if it’s only for five minutes at a time.
Your place of relaxation should offer somewhere to sit and de-stress. You can diffuse essential oils, play soft music, or whatever makes you feel calm. The key to making this space truly relaxing is to make sure you actually want to retreat to it.
2. Rearrange your pantry and fridge
Your diet is important for several reasons. Eat anti-inflammatory foods like whole, plant-based foods and lean protein like fish to help with your symptoms. A healthy diet can also help you lose excess pounds that could be placing unwanted pressure on your already-sensitive joints.
It’s important that you’re able to access healthy foods easily, and they’re not hiding behind chips or cookies. Reorganize your pantry and refrigerator by making sure your healthy food items are within reach. Place fruits, veggies, and grains in clear containers that you can easily see and open.
It can also be helpful to get single-size servings ready for yourself at the beginning of each week. The convenience and visibility of your healthy foods are key when your symptoms are flaring up.
Also, put your food items around the same level as your upper torso so you don’t have to do any unnecessary stretching and bending.
3. Make meal prep and cooking a family affair
If you’re the one who’s typically in charge of the family meals, don’t hesitate to enlist your family for help.
Even simple tasks, such as washing fresh veggies, can become difficult if you’re in pain. Having a family member help out can give you more time for yourself and allow you to save your energy for other tasks.
Once your family gets the hang of it, this can become a fun bonding experience. You’ll teach your kids life skills while boosting their confidence, too.
4. Invest in a standing office desk
If you work from home or sit at a desk for long periods of time, this can be doing more harm than good to your body.
Sitting for short periods of time may provide ease and comfort in the moment, but it also places pressure on the joints in your lower back and hips. This could make your symptoms worse.
You might find it helpful to have the option to stand at your home office desk. You can alternate between sitting and standing when you have to work. Explore your options — you don’t necessarily have to buy the most expensive desk on the market to gain more comfort.
5. Sit on cushions whenever possible
When you need to sit, one key to comfort is using posture techniques that a physical therapist can teach you.
You should also consider sitting up on cushions to take away some of the strain in your lower back. If you’re short on comfortable cushions, even a couple of folded towels will help take the pressure off your joints.
As you get stronger, you may consider investing in stabilizing balls and discs designed for chairs.
6. Use shoe horns so you don’t have to bend over
Something as simple as taking off and putting on your shoes can become excruciating when you have ankylosing spondylitis.
Shoe horns, especially those with long handles, can help you with this process. These devices also take pressure off your hips and lower back joints because you don’t have to bend over to use them.
You can find shoe horns of various sizes at your local drugstore.
7. Use reaching aids to save your joints
Reaching aids help you grab objects that you might otherwise need to stretch to reach.
These types of mobility devices can help you stay active around the house without assistance. More importantly, they can help take the strain off the joints in your back so your pain and swelling don’t become worse.
Reaching aids can be found at drugstores and medical supply stores, and they come in a range of lengths.
8. Install bars and rails in the bathroom
Getting up and down from the toilet or bathtub can become difficult. Squatting and lifting when you have ankylosing spondylitis can be painful, and puts extra strain on your joints.
Installing handrails and bars can help you manage these tasks more easily.
9. Let technology be your friend
Advances in technology, such as home appliances, have changed the way people work and play. Many of these can help with the daily challenges of ankylosing spondylitis.
Self-moving vacuums that run off your Wi-Fi can save your back from the pull and strain of a traditional vacuum cleaner. Blenders and other chopping devices can save your shoulders from cutting up fruits and veggies for your meals.
You can even time your lights, air conditioner, and heater from your phone without having to keep bending, lifting, and standing. Research your options to see how simple changes in your home may work to your advantage.
10. Delegate chores to family members or ask friends for help
All of the above devices can help your mobility, but they can’t help you with the chores that need to be done around the house.
It may be time to explain the severity of your condition to your family and enlist their help by delegating the chores. You can also ask friends and loved ones for help with activities that require a lot of lifting or bending.
Don’t feel guilty about asking. Having the help of your loved ones will keep you mobile and pain-free.
When you have ankylosing spondylitis, tasks like cleaning your home, cooking, and putting on shoes can seem impossible to complete. They might be more difficult, but with some modifications, they can still be done. Figure out which tasks are most challenging for you, and then try making simple changes to ease your pain.