Currently, arthritis affects 1 in 4 adults in the U.S. Though many people associate arthritis with elderly adults, it can affect people of all age groups. In fact, more than half of those living with arthritis are under the age of 65. Still, aging adults are more likely to experience arthritis pain, and not everyone knows how to care for seniors with arthritis pain.
Arthritis is more than a nuisance. In addition to joint pain and inflammation, many people experience difficulty moving, fatigue, and even depression. If you’re caring for an aging adult with arthritis pain, here are some things you can do to help them manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
What is arthritis?
Arthritis is a general term for conditions that affect the joints and surrounding tissues. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, and each one affects the body differently. The most common types of arthritis include:
- Osteoarthritis: This is the most common type of arthritis, and it occurs when the cartilage between bones breaks down.
- Rheumatoid arthritis: This is a chronic inflammatory condition that can damage the joints and other tissues in the body.
- Psoriatic arthritis: This form of arthritis occurs in people with psoriasis, a condition that causes red, scaly patches on the skin.
How can you help your elderly loved one manage arthritis pain?
If you’re caring for an aging adult with arthritis, there are several things you can do to help them manage their pain and improve their quality of life. Here are some suggestions:
Help them maintain a healthy weight.
As we age, our bodies change in many ways. One common change is that we tend to put on a few extra pounds. Although carrying a few extra pounds may not seem like a big deal, it can actually have a significant impact on our health. This extra weight can put additional strain on the joints, which can lead to more pain.
To avoid this and other health complications, it’s important to help your aging loved one maintain a healthy weight. The best way to do this is to encourage them to eat a healthy diet and get regular exercise.
Assist them with joint-friendly exercises.
Moving more may seem counterintuitive, but exercise is actually an important part of managing arthritis. It helps to strengthen the muscles around the joints and improve the range of motion. However, it’s important to choose exercises that are gentle on the joints.
Some joint-friendly exercises include walking, swimming, and light weightlifting. If you’re not sure what exercises are right for your favorite aging adult, talk to your doctor or a physical therapist. They can help you create an exercise plan that is safe and effective for them.
Apply heat or cold to painful joints.
For many people with arthritis, pain is a constant companion. But applying heat or cold to the affected joint can help to relieve pain and inflammation. Try applying a heating pad or taking a warm bath to soothe joints. The heat will help to loosen up your muscles and ease the pain. For cold therapy, try applying an ice pack or taking a cool shower. The cold will help to reduce inflammation and numb the area. Remember to limit your exposure to heat or cold to 20 minutes at a time to avoid further irritation.
Ensure they take medications as prescribed.
It’s all too easy to forget to take pills or to skip doses when pain is low. That’s why it’s important to ensure your senior loved one takes their medications as prescribed. This includes both over-the-counter and prescription medications. Reminding your loved one to take their pills at the same time each day can make a big difference in how well the medication works. And if you’re unsure about anything, don’t hesitate to ask the doctor for clarification.
Do you have more questions about arthritis? We’re sure you do! There’s a lot of information out there, so don’t hesitate to ask their doctor for more information or look for reliable resources online. You can also check out these arthritis programs for South Carolina. The more you know, the better you’ll be able to help your senior loved one manage their condition and enjoy a high quality of life.
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