Most older Americans wake up every day with at least some arthritis-related joint pain and stiffness. Weather changes, over-exertion or even normal daily activities can worsen their achy joints. And, more serious arthritis flare-ups can even cause a senior to feel stressed out, frustrated and depressed.
If you’re currently caring for an aging in place elderly loved one with arthritis, helping them stay active and independent can be challenging. Fortunately, there are several proven ways to keep them more comfortable, starting with these.
The 2 Main Types of Arthritis
According to the Mayo Clinic, arthritis is the number one cause of chronic pain in the U.S. And, there are two main types:
Osteoarthritis (OA). A vast majority of seniors have osteoarthritis, which is caused by the wearing down over time of bone-protecting cartilage. OA symptoms include joint stiffness, tenderness, discomfort, a grinding sensation and loss of joint flexibility. The most commonly targeted joints are a senior’s hands, hips, knees and spine.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This much rarer form of arthritis is an autoimmune disorder whereby the patient’s own body starts attacking joint cartilage. RA symptoms include joint swelling and pain, along with a warm sensation in the afflicted joints.
Note: Because the two types of arthritis require different treatments, the remainder of this article will focus on osteoarthritis because it’s much more common in seniors.
Caring for a Senior with Arthritis
Arthritis can make even the simplest daily activities seem unbearable at times. As a result, many seniors eventually give up, become inactive and socially isolated. And, if those unhealthy behaviors continue it can quickly start threatening a senior’s at-home freedom and independence. To help prevent that from happening to your loved one, here are some good ways to keep them more active:
Better Lifestyle Choices
Studies have shown that certain poor lifestyle choices can exacerbate arthritis, including:
- Being overweight
- Smoking cigarettes
- Poor sleep habits
- Not eating healthy foods
If your loved one is engaging in these behaviors, making some positive lifestyle changes will also improve their mental outlook too!
Regular exercise benefits seniors with arthritis by strengthening their joint-supporting muscles, stretching out stiff joints and improving blood flow that helps reduce inflammation. Encourage your loved one to participate in low-impact forms of exercise like:
- Yoga or Tai Chi
- Water or chair aerobics
- Other range-of-motion exercises
Ask your senior’s doctor about over the counter (OTC) medications that might help when arthritis flare-ups occur. Here are some of the remedies they might suggest:
- OTC pain-relievers like ibuprofen, naproxen sodium or acetaminophen
- Capsaicin-containing creams that are applied on the skin over an afflicted joint
Even when using OTC products, it’s important to read the labels to prevent potential drug interactions or overuse. If pain persists, talk to their doctor about other alternatives.
The Mayo Clinic also recommends these additional therapies for arthritis:
- Massage. A deep muscle massage done by a trained masseuse may be just what ‘the doctor ordered’.
- Acupuncture. Try taking your senior to a trained acupuncturist, as this ancient Chinese pain-relief therapy has shown much promise lately for arthritis sufferers.
- Heat and cold. Apply a heating pad to their afflicted joints or have them take a warm bath or shower. A senior’s skin is more sensitive, so use heat sparingly. Cold packs applied after exercising can also relieve pain and inflammation.
- Counseling. Developing a more positive state-of-mind is oftentimes possible once a senior with arthritis starts meeting with a licensed therapist.
- Support groups. Check with your local Agency on Aging about arthritis support groups in the area. Sharing one’s feelings and experiences with others who also have arthritis can oftentimes help seniors develop better coping mechanisms and habits.
In-Home Caregivers Helping Seniors with Arthritis Stay Active
Caring for an aging in place loved one with arthritis can be hard, especially if you live far away. When you need some assistance, call Cranberry Home Care. As a family owned and operated agency, our highly trained caregivers know how to help seniors with arthritis stay more active so they can keep on living comfortably right at home. While there, our fully licensed and insured aides can provide in-home services like light housekeeping, personal hygiene, meals, food shopping, wellness checks, medication reminders, companionship and transportation.
To put your mind at ease, all our family trusted amenities can be individually combined within an affordable package when and where you need them! To learn more about Cranberry Home Care, or to schedule a FREE, in-home care consultation for a senior in Southeastern, MA, today, please visit: www.cranberryhomecare.com now.