by Beth Rush

Many people move into tiny houses to simplify their lives as they age. While less space decreases maintenance and cleaning, the right touches can make life even more comfortable. What can you do to create an arthritis-friendly home? 

Fortunately, many of the details require just a touch of DIY savvy. Builders can install other modifications from the moment you order your structure. Here are nine ways to create an arthritis-friendly home when you live in a tiny house. 

Begin From the Drawing Board 

Many tiny houses feature a loft design with a ladder, which isn’t the best choice for an arthritis-friendly home. Fortunately, that’s not your only layout option. Look for a one-story model to skip stairs and limit fall risk. While a small lift is another alternative, such a device can take up already limited space. 

9 Ways to Create an Arthritis-Friendly Home

Once you select the right tiny home model for your needs, the following nine touches can make it even more arthritis-friendly. 

1. Install Grab Bars 

Grab bars are a must, especially for the bathroom, to prevent painful falls. They also aid in transferring to and from mobility devices like walkers and wheelchairs. 

Ensure your shower has the necessary space. Per ADA rules, your grab bar should be 1 1/4-1 1/2 inches wide and stand out from your wall at least half an inch. When selecting your stall, opt for a walk-in model instead of a tub to further decrease fall risk. You’ll also need to locate one of your tiny home’s studs or use an appropriate anchor to secure the bar firmly enough to support your weight. 

2. Keep Clutter Clear 

Tiny home living lends itself to minimalism — you simply lack space for an abundance of stuff. However, keeping your area clean has other perks. For example, your physiatrist may accompany your physical therapist to your home to observe your exercise management and treatment while designing a nutrition program to ease inflammation. Ample floor space provides room for mastering healing moves and entertaining visitors. 

One easy rule for reducing clutter is to practice one-in, one-out living — every time you buy something new (other than groceries), choose something you already own to sell or donate. Another savvy tip? Try the 30-30 rule. If an item costs more than $30, wait at least 30 hours before buying it. Chances are, you may forget all about it. 

3. Choose Lever Handles and Knobs 

Standard twist doorknobs can wreak misery on arthritic hands. Instead, create an arthritis-friendly home by opting for lever-style models that open with a pushing motion. Likewise, install handle-style hardware on cabinet doors, which is far easier than grasping a tiny knob or trying to wedge your fingers in the crack. 

4. Opt for Function Over Form 

If you have the freedom to decorate your tiny home however you like, design that baby for maximum comfort. For example, do traditional work desks murder your spine? Design yours to fold down over your couch, letting you prop your aching back against a pile of pillows all day. 

Better yet, have it adjust from seated to standing so you can occasionally rise and stretch your legs, which some people report eases back pain. Moving more also improves circulation, which carries fluids and nutrients to joint tissues, keeping them healthier. 

5. Select Non-Slip Flooring 

Even though having arthritis doesn’t necessarily make you more accident-prone, slips and falls can hurt more. For example, people with ankylosing spondylitis might twist unexpectedly, worsening inflammation and spurring tightness that can last a week or more. 

Your best flooring bets for fall prevention are: 

  • Pergo or laminate
  • Vinyl laminate 
  • Cork 
  • Rubber 

While carpet offers a forgiving surface, it makes it harder to use mobility devices like walkers. Hard surfaces, such as tile, stone or hardwood, can lead to a painful broken bone. The best flooring for an arthritis-friendly home facilitates movement but offers a degree of cushioning if you tumble. 

6. Ensure Adequate Lighting 

Everything from slicing a tomato to sewing a patch on torn pants becomes more difficult when you have arthritis. Why let low lighting create additional problems? Create an arthritis-friendly home by brightening it. 

Today’s LEDs let you create the right amount of illumination when you need it. Many of them come in multiple temperatures and intensities, allowing you to turn up the brightness when you need it and dim it down to ease into the evening and encourage sleep. Some even feature fun changing colors — consider a row of strip lights beneath cabinets and even underneath your bed so that late-night bathroom runs no longer result in barking your shins. 

7. Pick Out Kitchen Appliances With Care 

You might not need a full gourmet kitchen in a tiny home. Even if you traditionally do the holiday cooking, chances are you can borrow the oven in your host’s house. 

You might not need a full stove and oven unit that requires bending over to cook a pizza. Today’s all-in-one countertop models truly do everything. Some models combine the convenience of an air fryer, microwave and convection oven in one while others come topped with a skillet that’s perfect for frying up breakfast. 

8. Get Smart 

Smart home devices can become the best friends of folks with arthritis. All you need to do is speak a voice command to adjust the lighting or temperature. Many models also increase your security, letting you check that your doors are locked from your phone. Say goodbye to shuffling around in the dark for your slippers — you can ensure you’re tucked in safe and sound for the night by consulting an app. 

9. Design With Holistic Health in Mind 

Holistic health addresses the entire person — body, mind and spirit. It recognizes that symptoms often have complex underlying causes, from stress and unhealthy lifestyles to poor diet or lack of physical activity. 

When designing your tiny house, keep your holistic health in mind. If you find soothing music calms frayed nerves, opt for an embedded speaker package that fills your world with sound. You can use skylights to invite more natural light. Welcome yourself home with an aromatherapy mister to imbue your little abode with the relaxing scent of lavender.

Creating an Arthritis-Friendly Tiny Home 

Many people with arthritis choose tiny home living because the decrease in maintenance helps them save more of their energy for living, not tending the house. However, the right upgrades make it even better. 

Consider the above nine upgrades to create an arthritis-friendly home. You don’t need a lot of size when the little touches make all the difference.

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