We established Aged Care Connect in 2002 after observing the difficulties that families encountered when they approached the task of placing a relative into aged care.
15 February 2017
Arthritis is a challenging and uncomfortable disease that affects many seniors and older adults.
Common arthritis joint symptoms include swelling, pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motion. Symptoms may come and go. They can be mild, moderate, or severe. They may stay about the same for years but can progress or get worse over time. Severe arthritis can result in chronic pain, inability to do daily activities, and make it difficult to walk or climb stairs.
The term arthritis actually encompasses over 100 types of joint pain and joint diseases, which can affect people in any age group, though it does mainly affect seniors. Luckily, there are many exercises and easy activities that can assist with elderly arthritis pain relief.
The impact of arthritis in older adults should not be underestimated. In addition to pain and discomfort, senior arthritis also brings with it a lack of mobility. A person suffering from arthritis may have difficulty standing after sitting for a long period of time, like watching a movie or riding in the car. He may also feel particularly stiff in the morning and have a difficult time starting the day. The decrease in mobility may make it more challenging for a senior to participate in activities they used to enjoy, such as shopping, taking walks, or visiting family and friends. As a result, seniors who suffer from arthritis tend to struggle with depression as well.
Osteoarthritis is the most common arthritis in the elderly. It is degenerative arthritis, meaning the cartilage between the bones in the joints wears away. This will cause pain, swelling, and stiffness. While this can happen as a normal part of aging, other risk factors include excessive weight, family history, and a previous injury to the joint.
Rheumatoid arthritis is less common but can be even more painful. With this type of arthritis, the immune system does not work properly. A healthy immune system uses inflammation to get rid of infection or prevent disease. In a person suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks and inflames the joints.
Early-onset rheumatoid arthritis symptoms include:
Rheumatoid arthritis can be treated, and if you believe you or a loved one may be experiencing any of these symptoms, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.
Arthritis care is not easy, whether you are the person suffering or you are the caregiver for someone who struggles with arthritis. Being in any sort of pain all the time will make anyone miserable, and having that pain exacerbated by movement is even worse.
Arthritis can lead to a loss of mobility, which in turn can lead to a loss of a feeling of independence. Many seniors who suffer from arthritis also suffer from depression. It is a disease that takes a physical and mental toll on a person.
Luckily, there are some simple things you can do to help a loved one who suffers from arthritis.
There are many different medications designed to help relieve arthritis pain. Many of these medications are NSAIDs (non-steroid anti-inflammatory), which can be helpful but can also come with side effects after long-term use.
There are some other useful options to help relieve arthritis pain.
One of the best exercises for seniors with arthritis is yoga. Yoga can reduce arthritis-related pain by improving joint function, building strength, and promoting relaxation. By combining breathing exercises with strength-based poses and movements, yoga can provide the same benefits as cardio exercises without the negative, high-impact side effects. Some yoga instructors cater their classes to an elderly population and can provide yoga exercises specifically for seniors with arthritis. Similar to yoga, tai chi can be helpful for seniors with arthritis. Tai chi is another form of exercise that includes slow, controlled movements that stretch and strengthen joints.
Getting in the pool can be a great way to get exercise if you have arthritis. Water exercises put less stress on your joints and help you build muscle by providing 12 times more resistance than air. CreakyJoints.com provides a list of water exercises for seniors with arthritis with clear illustrations and goes into more detail about how they can be beneficial.
We may not be able to cure arthritis yet, but it can be effectively managed. Work with your doctor to understand the disease and how it affects you. Come up with a treatment plan that works for your lifestyle and don’t stop adjusting that plan until you are comfortable, if not completely pain-free. Keep moving and exercising, and talk to your caregiver about ways they can help with your day to day tasks.
Arthritis does come with challenges, but all those challenges can be overcome.