Millions of Americans aged 65-and-over suffer from arthritis pain and discomfort. According to the Mayo Clinic (www.mayoclinic.org), arthritis is the leading cause of physical pain and disability for seniors worldwide.
When you’re taking care of an elderly loved one with arthritis it can progressively get worse, disrupt their normal daily activities, and jeopardize their at-home freedom and independence. In-an-effort-to keep your senior more active while aging in place, here are 5 proven ways to help them effectively manage arthritis.
What are the Causes and Symptoms of Arthritis?
Arthritis is a chronic condition diagnosed as either osteo or rheumatoid in nature; each of which has different causes. According to the Mayo Clinic, osteoarthritis occurs when the body’s joint cartilage gets worn down, resulting in bone-on-bone rubbing within the joint. And, it’s primarily brought on by aging, joint injuries, working at certain occupations, genetics, and bone deformities. Unhealthy activities like poor nutrition, not exercising, obesity, and smoking tobacco products can aggravate osteoarthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an “autoimmune” disorder whereby the body’s own immune system, for reasons that are still unclear, begins to attack connective tissue found in its joints. Symptoms of both arthritis forms are similar, including inflamed, stiff, swollen and painful joints, usually present in the feet, knees, hands, hips, and lower back. If you have a senior loved one who is experiencing arthritic symptoms, which can range from mild to severe, it’s best to consult their doctor to determine which arthritis type they have.
Ways to Help Seniors Effectively Manage Arthritis
When your elderly loved one has been diagnosed with arthritis, here are 5 good ways as a caregiver to help them more effectively manage arthritis and the associated pain and discomfort:
1. Activity and Exercise
Discuss with the senior how their arthritic joints feel when they’re sitting, standing, or engaging in normal activities, and encourage them to stay active and exercise. Good low-impact exercises that will loosen joint tissues, increase flexibility, and build joint-supporting muscle strength in arthritis sufferers include:
- Water aerobics
- Yoga and tai chi
- Chair aerobics
Exercising and staying active will also help a senior shed extra pounds if they’re overweight, which will further reduce some of the stress on arthritic joints.
2. Add Nutritional Supplements
Many older people don’t get the nutrition they need, and that can make arthritis worse. There are certain supplements that seniors can take that may help, notably glucosamine and chondroitin. When doing so, please note that study outcomes with those supplements vary, so they may or may not benefit your loved one.
3. Apply Heat and Cold
For consistent arthritis relief, many seniors benefit from applying heat to sore and stiff joints using heating pads, warm baths and showers, hot packs, and even paraffin wax treatments. To reduce joint swelling, using a cold pack seems to work well. As their caregiver, make sure the treatments don’t last for more than 20 minutes, and that their delicate skin is protected from the heat or cold.
Following a doctor’s advice, there are many OTC and prescription medications a senior can take or apply to reduce joint pain and swelling. Those include ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, acetaminophen, and capsaicin-containing topical creams and ointments. When severe arthritis symptoms are present, their doctor may prescribe corticosteroids. Always keep doctors informed about OTC meds your loved one is on, as certain arthritic medications can interact with other ones; placing a senior at risk.
5. Mind-Body Techniques
Many seniors with arthritis also experience fear, depression and anxiety, while studies have found that a more positive attitude facilitates healing. Try to get your loved one to stay relaxed and upbeat, even when their arthritis flares up. According to the Mayo Clinic, additional techniques to treat arthritis that emphasize a positive mind-body healing interaction include:
- Full body massage
- Relaxation therapy
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Meditation and breathing techniques (Yoga, etc.)
We Specialize in Assisting At-Home Seniors with Arthritis
Caring for a senior who’s dealing with arthritis is not easy, and when you have a household to manage, or live far away, it can be overwhelming. When you need some help, call First In Care, and we’ll provide your loved one with the reliable care they deserve, while putting your mind at ease. As your “extended family”, our highly trained and carefully screened aides understand arthritis-related issues, and the importance of keeping your elderly loved one active, eating right, and staying positive.
In addition to those duties, while in a senior’s home our compassionate caregivers can also assist with daily living activities like light housework, food shopping, personal hygiene, medication reminders, transportation and companionship. And, our services can be individually tailored to keep your loved one aging in place right where they want to be! To learn more now about hot to effectively manage arthritis, or about First In Care’s family trusted, home healthcare services for seniors in Bradenton and Manatee County, FL, please visit: www.firstincare.com.