Is it me, or are jars and packages, cans and everything else that comes in a container getting harder and harder to open?  For some time now I’ve been using nut crackers and pliers from my tool bag for the bigger ones.  And bottles with corks are almost impossible!  I have to hold my favourite Balsamic vinegar bottle between my feet and pull out the cork with all my strength, hoping it won’t suddenly hit me under my chin and knock my teeth together.  Then there’s the fresh soup cartons, where you need a device to break the castellated seal and your fingernail at the same time.  And don’t let me start on the list of ingredients that is so faint and tiny you need a magnifying glass to read it. But there are things we can – and should – do about it

First, how does everyone else cope with the jars and cans? Do they catch the postman or the Amazon delivery man like I do? I put the question on my Facebook page and got a flurry of replies.

The first was from a pastor friend far away in the safety of a foreign country.  ‘I love you, you know that,’ he said, with a big grinning emoji, ‘but it’s old age!’

But my fit, strong and beautiful daughter in law in Greenville, South Carolina posted, ‘No, the seals are definitely getting tighter.  I’m glad to have Tim around.’  This is a girl who rides a bike up a steep mountain and made a 6 ft wide rope macramé net to climb to the top of the tallest tree in their garden.  Nothing defeats her.

You are not alone,’ said a male friend in America,’ my pet peeve is the hard clamshell packages that resist anything short of a diamond drill and cause the risk of fatal lacerations if you do manage to get it open.’

A friend from East Anglia wrote, ‘I share your pain! I did have a gadget from Amazon but it broke. I have learned that ALL screw tops will open eventually if you put them in hot water for a while, and instead of spoiling my cutlery I keep a screwdriver in the cutlery drawer.’

A couple of others with disabilities wrote, too.  One said, ‘you’re right Louise – even trying to take off the top of the milk is a pain!’

But there is a solution, I found.  I googled, ‘kitchen utensils for arthritic hands’ and up came a few websites specifically advertising them. Amazon, the world’s Go-To site, has an excellent selection.  But I haven’t found one that can lift off the tight plastic lids on the Tuna Toppers cans.  Underneath is a pull ring that’s quite easy to pull back, but getting the lids off first is like trying to rip a vacuum pack seal off a time capsule meant for the future.

What to do about poor food labelling?  In the UK there is clear direction to producers – see  There’s also a site for reporting inadequate labelling –  But many packages give contact details for customers.  I tried one with a Whitford’s cranberries package which had a barely-there print on a pale pink background.  Even the magnifier under a strong light couldn’t make it legible. I contacted the firm and received a swift reply, thanking me for taking the trouble.

It’s worth persevering.  One voice may not be heard, but many voices probably will!



Louise Morse

Louise Morse MA (CBT) is media and external relations manager for the Pilgrims’ Friend Society. She is a writer and speaker, and author of books on issues of old age, including dementia, published by Lion Monarch and SPCK. She is a cognitive behavioural therapist, and her Masters’ dissertation examined the effects of caring for a loved one with dementia on close relatives.

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