DEAR READERS: An older reader with a broken wrist recently wrote me to complain that it has become impossible for seniors to open various products because manufacturers now seal them so securely. True to form, my readers stepped up to the plate to offer helpful suggestions. (Dear Abby readers are without a doubt the kindest, most generous people in the world!) Read on:
FROM WAUWATOSA, WIS.: There's a product that is indispensable for weakened or arthritic hands. It's a thin, flat disc made of pliable rubber, textured on one side. A friend gave me one years ago, and it helps me get a grip on hard-to-open jars. Some businesses give them away as promotional items, and I think they're available in hardware stores.
FROM ANDOVER, MINN.: If that reader eats fresh broccoli, he or she is in luck. The stems are held together by small, sturdy, wide rubber bands. Slip one around the top of a jar or bottle and it can be twisted off without straining your wrist -- I guarantee. I'm 84, and into everything!
FROM WALLINGFORD, CONN.: I just hold the top of the jar or bottle under hot running water for a few seconds. The heat causes it to expand and makes opening easier.
FROM WESTON, MO.: I'm a senior, too. Here's the answer ... put on a pair of rubber gloves, and you'll get a better grip on the item.
FROM SEATTLE: I'm a caregiver. I don't know if the general population knows this, but a lot of pharmacies will fill their prescriptions in bubble packs. Bubble packs are similar to bubble wrap. Getting to the medication is as easy as popping an air-filled bubble. The agency I work for does business with a pharmacy that will even put over-the-counter medications into bubble packs.
FROM MISSOULA, MONT.: I use a wide-bladed flat screwdriver. I insert the blade under the edge of the lid and pry it up in a few places. It breaks the vacuum seal and the jar unscrews easily.
FROM OAK HARBOR, WASH.: I keep a magnetic bottle opener handily stuck on the door of my refrigerator. To open stubborn jars, I slip the point under the edge of the lid and break the seal.
FROM NEW JERSEY: I read with amusement and sympathy the letter from "Broken Wrist in Alabama." Rather than spend $50 for an electric jar opener, I sprang for a buck-and-a-half ice pick. I puncture a hole in the center of the lid with the ice pick, the vacuum is released and the lid simply twists off. If the contents of the jar are not completely used, I seal the opening with cellophane tape or plastic wrap for storage. It's an easy, low-cost solution to a problem many of us have to deal with.
FROM KENTS STORE, VA.: It's not just medicines and food stuffs, Abby. Battery packs, small tools, all kinds of things are almost impossible to open because they are sealed in tough plastic. I am fit and active. I garden and am pretty strong, but some of those packages almost defeat me. There's no way to open this kind of packaging without scissors or worse. I hope somebody listens to this.
DEAR READERS: So do I!