Many people over the age of 65 have bone and joint health problems that cause inflammation, pain and deformities in their hips, knees, fingers and other areas. As aging bones weaken and joints stiffen, many seniors simply stop participating in activities like they used to. But when a senior is aging in place, leading a sedentary lifestyle can quickly place their freedom and independence at risk. Fortunately, there are several reliable ways to help a senior improve their bone and joint health so they can lead a more active and productive life.
Common Bone and Joint Health Problems
Depending on the individual, these are some of the more common bone and joint-related problems that seniors oftentimes experience:
Broken bones. As bones lose calcium and other essential minerals during the aging process or from osteoporosis, they get more brittle and break more easily.
Osteoarthritis. This form of arthritis is caused by the wearing down of joint cartilage over time and can result in joint pain, swelling and stiffness.
Fear of falling. Weak bones and less-flexible joints cause balance issues that place a senior at risk for bumping into stationary objects or falling.
Muscle weakness. When muscles aren’t used enough because of inactivity, they weaken and atrophy. The body then replaces depleted muscle tissue with tough fibrous tissue. This ongoing cycle causes further muscle deterioration that can even make a senior feel fatigued.
Slower reflexes. As muscles and tendons age it typically slows down a senior’s reflexes, which can make once-simple tasks like driving much more dangerous.
As a senior’s body goes through these inevitable changes even normal activities of daily living can seem like impossible tasks. That leads to a lower quality of life, which will eventually threaten a senior’s ability to stay at home.
Achieving Healthier Bones and Joints
Although the aging process itself cannot be stopped, there are several proven ways to help a senior improve their bone and joint health, starting with these:
Exercise and Stretching
Participating regularly in low-impact forms of exercise, like Yoga, Tai Chi, water aerobics, swimming and walking helps strengthen bones and promote joint flexibility. For seniors that are homebound, interactive video games like Wii can deliver many of the same benefits. Stretching before and after workouts will also increase the body’s flexibility.
Eating a diet that’s rich in essential vitamins and minerals has been shown to drastically improve bone and joint health in elderly patients. For bones, that means getting plenty of Vitamin D, protein and calcium. Taking supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin will help reduce joint tightness and swelling, which will enhance flexibility.
The human body functions optimally when getting 7 to 8 hours of restful sleep every day. While sleeping soundly, our bodies produce biochemicals that help repair inflamed joint and muscle tissues. If your senior is having trouble sleeping, find them a more comfortable mattress, keep their bedroom as dark as possible, and encourage them to exercise regularly.
Over the counter (OTC) pain medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help relieve joint pain associated with arthritis or overuse, and there are now prescription medications available that help prevent further bone loss due to osteoporosis.
Smoking, being overweight and living a sedentary lifestyle all negatively affect bone and joint health. Encourage your loved one to kick those unhealthy habits to the curb and replace them with positive ones. After a month or so, you both should notice a dramatic improvement in how your senior feels. Once that happens, your biggest challenge as a caregiver may be trying to keep up with them!
In-Home Caregivers that Love Keeping Seniors Active
Helping a senior loved one stay more active can be challenging when you have a household to manage or live far away. When you need a hand, contact First In Care. As a fully licensed and insured home care agency, our highly trained caregivers love keeping seniors active so they can continue aging comfortably in place right where they want to be. While in the home, our carefully screened aides can also perform reliable duties like light housework, personal hygiene, meal preparation, medication reminders, transportation and companionship.
And, all our family trusted companion and home health services can be individually combined into an affordable package that’ll restore your peace of mind! To learn more about First In Care now, or to schedule a FREE, in-home care assessment for a senior in Manatee County, FL, today, please visit us at: www.firstincare.com.