Guest Blog: 5 Effective Arthritis Self-Management Tips for Seniors
As a term, arthritis refers to over 100 different diseases that cause pain, swelling and limited mobility or flexibility in joints as well as other areas of the musculoskeletal system. It is an ailment that impacts 54 million adults today, a number that is only set to grow due to increased life expectancies and improved medical capabilities, potentially even rising to 78 million by 2040.
Many people, in particular older adults or family caregivers may assume that arthritis is a normal part of aging that affects everyone at some point, therefore reporting symptoms can sometimes be missed or delayed. However, there are many different ways to treat arthritis that can help improve quality of life. By doing this early, effective arthritis pain management in seniors, in particular aspects such as elderly knee pain treatments can be administered early and have a much greater impact on the spread of the problem.
So what is the most common type of arthritis in the elderly and what helps arthritis pain in the elderly are important questions to ask. Osteoarthritis is one the most common forms of arthritis as comes about as a result of the breakdown of joint cartilage from continued wear and tear. It can occur in any joint, but will typically affect the hands and weight-bearing joints like knees, hips and spinal joints. If proper management of chronic arthritis pain in the elderly is not sorted early, these can worsen over time and make it incredibly difficult to complete even the simplest of tasks.
Arthritis pain management in seniors will often include mild to severe symptoms including:
● Painful and stiff joints
● Lack of flexibility and mobility in joints
The key to successful arthritis pain management in seniors first involves an early diagnosis and the incorporation of effective practices to lessen the impact of the symptoms. Within this there are several effective ways that management of chronic arthritis pain in the elderly can be done simply and easily. Here are 5 simple tips that can help anyone suffering from arthritis:
Promote Regular Movement and Activity
Physical activity and regular exercise is a simple, effective, way to relieve arthritis pain in seniors. Being physically active can help to reduce pain, improve joint functionality, and stave off the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Look for exercise and arthritis self-management programs that have been specifically designed with seniors in mind which are led by trained experts to help those suffering with arthritis. Even small amounts of movement throughout the day can make a significant difference and can be done from the comfort of your own home to help strengthen your muscles and joints with low impact exercises.
Encourage Weight Loss
This goes hand in hand with regular movement and activity, but it is always good to encourage those suffering with arthritis to manage their weight and diet effectively. This is because excess weight will cause additional strain on weight-bearing joints, the hips and knees, which are likely areas to be affected by osteoarthritis. Reducing body weight, even by as little as 10% or just 10 to 12 pounds can actually reduce pain and improve joint function for seniors living with arthritis. Talk to experts in arthritis exercises and your doctor about ways that you take better control of your weight, and, by proxy, your arthritis.
If the person in question is elderly, it is likely that they will be using some forms of medication and treatment to help with arthritis symptoms. Arthritis is often treatable with medication and treatment plans are available, however there are some ways to make this more accessible and simpler for someone living with arthritis. These methods include:
● Ask the pharmacist to provide upside-down caps on bottles to make them easier to open.
● Use a pill popper device for over-the-counter medications
● Look into a prepackaged medication management systems that are easier to open
● Consult with doctors, pharmacists and caregivers to devise assisted methods that make taking pain medication simpler for those with joint issues
Make Daily Tasks Easier
There are many arthritis-friendly products that can make life easier for seniors living with the affliction. This can be anything from having foam handles on products and arthritis-friendly utensils to make everyday tasks a simpler prospect while also reducing fatigue. This can also be applied to larger products such as installing grab bars in a shower, bathtub and around a toilet to make washing and hygienic tasks much easier and safer. Toilet seat risers can help reduce the effort needed to sit down and stand up while automatic dispensers reduce the need to squeeze bottles, an act difficult for those whose finger joints have less mobility.
It may seem easier to say than to do, but staying positive is a key part of everyday life for those living with arthritis. Especially in seniors, the symptoms can lead to negative feelings so family members and caregivers should help them remain positive and focused on what they can still do. A positive mental outlook can have a big impact on how you feel as well as how physically able you feel. Spend time with those you love, take up hobbies that you can do even with arthritis and focus on your abilities, rather than your disabilities and pain management becomes a much easier proposition.
Easy, effective, and efficient arthritis pain management in seniors will help to improve the quality of everyday life for elderly people. There are more ways to help with this growing problem, from customized movement plans to improved medical assistance, so it’s important to find the right approach depending on the person in question. Consult with doctors, caregivers, and physical therapists to ensure your self-management plan can be done in a safe and healthy manner.
Kelly Tassos is a creative content writer for MyArthritisRx, a patient-facing digital platform to facilitate self-management of Osteoarthritis. She specializes in helping people understand and receive treatment for inflammatory diseases like arthritis as well as other trending health topics.