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Tips for reading and writing

Reading with arthritic hands

Because I struggled with holding books and tablets while reading, I bought a music stand. 

This solves most problems; there are clips to hold the book open and I also don't have to bend my neck, which is blissful.

In bed I put a pillow on my stomach/chest. If the book isn’t very thick, I use a clear Perspex recipe book holder.
Marie Hoadley, via email

I adore reading and in 2012 began to fear that my ability to hold a book was time-limited due to rheumatoid arthritis in my hands and wrist. My grandchildren bought me a Kindle as a Christmas present that year and I was delighted because it was so light.

Two years later, holding even this was becoming a challenge. Last Christmas, they bought me a Kindle Techbed made by Muscava and Edge Beanbags. This clever little beanbag holds e-readers and paper books perfectly and adjusts to the surface. This means I can read in bed in any position or place it on the arm of my chair, the sun bed in the garden or on my counter to read a recipe from my iPad.

It’s a wonderful product in quality material, made by a small British company who give excellent customer service. I love sharing info on 'good news' and would like them to get the praise they deserve. It doesn't sound like much but it has made such a difference to my life and that of my friends (who are also affected by rheumatoid arthritis).
Mary Edgley, via email

I'm 68 years old and have recently joined a reading group, which gives us all great pleasure. Unfortunately I am not the only one who struggles keeping paperback books open, as we don’t like the idea of bending them in half, damaging the spine. The only book-holders we have seen are bulky and difficult to use. Can anyone suggest any solutions? I am sure this must be a common problem to many of your readers and therefore we all look forward to a solution. 
Katherine Moore, Newcastle-under-Lyne, Staffordshire

With regard to Katherine Moore’s letter in the winter edition of Arthritis Today regarding a light-weight book-holder, I am delighted to recommend the Gimble, designed to hold paperbacks. It is an extremely light and effective product, sold as a pair (two different sizes), which in my experience has accommodated all paperbacks I have used it on. It costs about £5 a pair. I am 47 and have had osteoarthritis for some years, and as a keen reader was finding it increasingly difficult to hold books open for any length of time. The Gimble is one of the most useful aids I have ever purchased.
Maggie Pettitt, Dodleston, Chester, Cheshire

Writing with arthritic hands

If any of your readers, like me, have found writing in a painful experience, I can recommend a website called Simply Health. On the section ‘Staying Active’ there is a section on reading and writing aids, including easy-grip pens. I would be interested to hear of any other useful aids to help me with my correspondence.
JA Adamson, Worthing, West Sussex

Using tablets and e-readers

I am using my new e-reader to send this, and would recommend anyone who suffers from chronic arthritis in their knees and or feet, who likes or needs to spend a lot of time on their computers, to get a tablet. I have increasingly found myself unable to sit at my desk long enough to get everything done. With this I can now sit in my riser-recliner chair, with my feet up, a heated pad over my knees whilst sorting emails, social media and web research, allowing more time for the use of the computer which I cannot easily do on the tablet. Typing is slower, though a fine stylus helps, as does predictive text. I have also downloaded an office suite app, so I can now do most things other than update my website.
Barbara Chapman, via email

Problems with holding a pen and writing legibly? 

I’d been having increasing difficulty for eight years since I was first diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy, and as good handwriting had been one of the very few talents which I could claim, I found this to be particularly frustrating and depressing.

Then fortunately a friend spotted someone using a very ‘weird-looking pen’ (her description), which sent me to search Google for ‘handicapped pens’. Surprisingly this search revealed a wide range of products designed to address all sort of difficulties. I already knew from past experimentation that my problem needed something more radical than the thickness or type of grip of a conventionally shaped pen or ballpoint pen, and happily I decided to try two possible low-cost solutions, both from Sigma Pens.

The first, RinG-Pen, is quite unlike the shape of normal ballpoints and I immediately found that in my case it provided much better control and made it easier to position the tip on the paper, and reduced the amount of tremor from my fingers. The second, RinG-Pen Ultra, uses a similar principle but in the form of a resilient contoured moulding, which clamps to the body of a conventional pen or ball-point. I find this more practical to use as it offers a much longer-lasting ink-reservoir. Either version can be had for less than a tenner including postage so I thought they’d got to be worth trying, and I’m so glad that I did. Are they a total solution?...No. But do they make legible writing significantly easier?...In my case, they certainly do, and I believe that with practice further progress is probable. I must emphasise that my only connection to Sigma Pens is that of a very satisfied and grateful customer. 
David Dyer, via email

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