It’s amazing how much you need a working shoulder on your dominant side in order to do everyday tasks. If you or someone close to you has a shoulder injury or is getting a shoulder replacement, here are my top tips, garnered through my own experience after a shoulder replacement.
Top tip: if you haven’t yet got a grabber, get one. All purpose useful – eg poking switches off and on when they’re in inaccessible places, fetching tins out of the back of a cupboard, reaching under the bed for a storage box, etc etc
A folding stool. I was unable to reach the top of my wardrobe rail. I bought two low stools one from Amazon one from my local hardware shop. They are cheap, sturdy, fold up flat and are infinitely useful
Men and women: buy underwear and sleepwear a size up so that there’s no tugging and pulling
Women: breast size and support needs permitting, buy step-in soft non underwired bras. I bought two front fastening bras but they were hopeless – heavily elasticised and harder to put on than a conventional back-fastening bra
Pull up elasticated trousers are easier than anything with fiddly fastenings
Top half: front fastening is easier than clothing that goes over your head, certainly at first. By week 3, I was able to wear over the head clothing as long as it had a capacious neck, stretchy fabric and loose arms
For over the head clothing: sit down on a bed so that you are stable, lower your head and use the good arm to poke your head through the neck opening, then put in the operated on arm, pull the cloth of the back down on the operated-on side so that it doesn’t get stuck around the back, then put in the other arm. Do the whole thing in reverse when undressing
Depending on how good your knees and general muscle tone are, consider buying a seat-‘riser’, a simple and relatively cheap device which works like an office chair with a small gas cylinder, adjusted for your weight. It’s heavy and I didn’t find I needed it to get up from chairs. Alternatively, practise ‘sit to stand’ ie getting up from chairs without using your arms at all
If you are unable to get out of chairs without using your arms, before the surgery make sure you have at least one comfortable chair adjusted for height, eg with extra cushions or raised on those blocks that you can buy from Amazon
Do regular balancing exercises ahead of the surgery as you may feel tottery after it, a feeling that will be made worse by having one arm in a sling. Practise rising on tip toe and holding for several seconds without using a table or chair for support if you can. Use a ‘jelly/wobble cushion’ (bare feet make this easier); try standing on one leg, holding for as long as possible
Using a computer: if it is the shoulder of your dominant hand that is being treated, it will be difficult to stretch the arm out at first. Buy a mouse for the other hand, so eg if you are right handed, buy a left-handed mouse. I found this very helpful in the first four weeks after surgery.
Practise using your ‘good’ hand solo pre the surgery – eg for bottom wiping, shampooing hair, shaving, putting on makeup, using the shower hose, filling the kettle
An electric toothbrush or water flosser is almost as easy to use with your non-dominant as with your dominant hand
Make sure you have some step in shoes which either don’t need a fastening or which fasten with Velcro rather than laces.
A long-handled shoehorn will be helpful as will long handled make up brushes