Parents/Caregivers with RA - help me "hack" your childcare activities!
September 15, 2010 5:00 PM   Subscribe

Moms (and dads? aunts? uncles?) with rheumatoid arthritis - have you ever thought, "I wish I had an x that would help me with/enable me to do y childcare task"? (more inside)

I am an occupational therapist assistant/physiotherapist assistant student, and I am working on a class project involving designing an assistive device for an ADL (activity of daily living). I have been brainstorming various ideas and researching various topics, and have decided that I am particularly interested in looking at issues (particularly with infant/toddler care) experienced by parents with RA - and constructing a device that could maybe even be helpful "in real life". I have a few ideas, but, not having RA myself, I would love to get some perspective from anyone who does.

So, as noted above, I wonder about any type of assistive device or modification to standard childcare tools/products that you wish you had had, or would like to have in future?
posted by purlgurly to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm not in your target audience, but my mom has arthritis in her knees and hands. She can carry babies, but she can't pick them up (because you have to bend over or squat, which her knees can't handle). So if someone hands her a baby, she's good, but if the baby is playing on the floor wanting to be lifted, she can't do it. I have no idea how one could possibly design a device to help with that, though.

Also, baby food jars. But I assume that's been handled by devices that help with other jars. Maybe tightening and removing the lids from baby bottles (the things the nipples are attached to). A standard jar opener (at least the kind I have) couldn't open that.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 5:24 PM on September 15, 2010

Response by poster: I didn't even think to add in grandparents, If only I had a penguin... Thanks for your thoughts!
posted by purlgurly at 5:30 PM on September 15, 2010

We have a good friend with severe RA, and when she watches our daughter she mostly complains about all the tiny clips and ties on everything. Especially any of the baby carriers, which we use often.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 8:08 PM on September 15, 2010

Best answer: I was exactly your target group when I got RA five years ago, one 3 yr old and a seven month old. And since I couldn't even start most medications while breastfeeding, the arthritis was badly managed for over six months.

Probably the hardest thing to cope with, and the hardest thing to adapt, was the carseat. A full infant carseat is heavy, and not something that my wrists could really handle one-handed. Even held in the crook of the arm, it would quickly fatigue my arms. And I'm sure I had trouble coping with the release mechanism. Once she was out of the infant seat, it was even harder. Because I'd have to bend and twist into the car while holding her to get her into the seat and then do up the multiple latches. God help me if I had to remove the seat from the LATCH system to move it to another car.

penguin is right about lifting always being an issue. How I wish my daughter had taken to a sling, because I hated going up and down stairs while holding her. Afraid that my bad knees would make me stumble, wishing I had a free hand to hold the railing. A few times, I'd just sit down and come down the stairs on my butt like a child.

Cribs are a problem too. For safety reasons, they don't lower all the way down, so you have to bend and lift to get the child out. It would be so much easier to just slide her off the mattress and into my arms.

Hope that helps a little.
posted by saffry at 7:14 PM on September 17, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for your answers! (Any anyone who hasn't posted yet - I am still open to more ideas :) saffry, your post gave me the idea for a sling-like device that would fit into the crib, and would let you raise your little one to pick them up without having to bend over so far...what do you think? Other respondents - thoughts?
posted by purlgurly at 10:21 AM on September 18, 2010

OK, I have psoriatic arthritis, which behaves similarly to RA, and I have dogs, which are not children -- but the latches on their collars and backpacks are similar to the ones on the carseats, strollers, infant seats my nieces had in their babyhood. Those all require the same type of squeezing/pressure to latch and unlatch.

Which hurts like crazy and takesmore effort and time for a person with reduced dexterity, and that requires you to stay in an uncomfortable bend or crouch for longer than a person who could snap the thing open easily.

Oh, here's another one: baby-proofing safety devices -- latches, straps, doorknob covers, etc. I have several of this type to keep my cats out of cabinets, and to release the strap, you have to press the little gray buttons on the top and bottom between your index finger and thumb. This can be excruciating.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:59 PM on October 28, 2010

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