06 May 12 Arthritis Care Tips for Seniors
Take charge of your arthritis with these tips to relieve your pain, improve your outlook, and help you move better and cope.
An arthritis diagnosis can be crushing, whether it is rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. If a condition isn’t well-managed, you could struggle with flare ups that are debilitating. Arthritis can also impede with everyday tasks in your daily life. Self-care is essential for your physical health, mind, and soul when dealing with a chronic health condition.
The range of physical challenges from arthritis can be extensive. You may have difficulty walking, trouble with household tasks like opening jars and turning doorknobs, or even challenges with dressing and combing your hair. Plus, the pain may make the ability to get a full night’s rest all but impossible. However, there are ways you can help ease physical restraints and discomfort.
Older adults with arthritis could experience depression, anxiety, and feelings of helplessness because they are no longer able to do things they used to do. They may also experience feelings of isolation, as if others don’t or can’t understand what they are dealing with.
Stress from chronic pain can be a factor as well.
A proper regimen can help manage the disease and let you live a fuller life. Learn 12 essential tips and tricks you need to know to help manage your arthritis better.
Find sources of empathy and listening
Often, what you might want most is to express your emotions like sadness and loss. It may be difficult, but allow yourself to open up to others about how you are feeling. When dealing with challenging issues like arthritis, it can help to find others that you can share your experiences with and that can empathize. Finding support groups can be an important way to connect and confront the challenges of arthritis, while offering the opportunity to cope.
With painful or swollen joints, it’s crucial to move regularly and exercise. Exercise can lift spirits and lessen pain. Ask your doctor or physical therapy what kind of exercise would be helpful.
Arthritis can often have sufferers feeling isolated and alone. A sense of loneliness can further increase feelings of pain and sensitivity to arthritis. Combat this by planning activities that keep you engaged and socially connected to friends and family. Consider outings like lunch out, shopping trips, or even just chatting or reading with others. It’s important to relax and stay connected, even if just to combat the stress associated with arthritis.
Employ heat and cold
Heat encourages blood vessels near the surface of the skin to expand. This helps stimulate blood flow and circulation in the area while relaxing muscles. This can reduce muscle spasms and alleviate pain. A warm shower each morning can help relieve morning stiffness. Applying heating pads to areas of pain for 15 minutes at a time can help as well.
Use cold to treat the acute pain caused by inflammation and swelling. Examples include time spent in the garden or a long walk that makes your joints feel painful and thick. Cold applications make blood vessels constrict. This prevents swelling and helps relieve pain by numbing the sore joint. You can apply cold for 10 to 20 minutes. Then, remove it for at least 20 to 40 minutes, and repeat it if necessary.
Research has proven that getting routine massages can reduce pain and stiffness while improving joint function and range of motion. In addition, massage also reduces anxiety, which regularly accompanies chronic pain. Massages can lower stress hormones and increase neurotransmitters like serotonin that make you feel better. Talk to your doctor to ensure that they think it’s a good idea for you. Look for or get a referral to a massage therapist that is familiar with or specializes in arthritic massage.
Ensure adequate rest
Sleep is essential to managing your condition and overall health. Fatigue and inflammation increases pain. Adequate sleep can help control pain and inflammation that stem from arthritis. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol, especially late at night, can help, as they both disturb sleep. Simple activities can include playing soft music, breathing deeply, and sipping warm milk before going to sleep in a cool and dark room. Adequate window coverings and an eye mask can make a huge difference in your ability to sleep as well. If you can’t sleep more soundly through your best efforts, talk with your doctor about alternative options. In addition, take frequent rest periods during the day which can help your body heal.
Some foods can help fight inflammation, while others may trigger painful flare ups which increase your symptoms. Maintain a healthy weight to help manage your joint pain. Nutritious and wholesome foods like fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains and other fiber-rich foods help combat inflammation. Heavily processed and other high-fat foods may cause your arthritis to flare up. Read our guide on healthy eating tips for seniors and other heart healthy meals.
Evaluate your home
Your home should be a place that is safe and comfortable. When you have arthritis, it may feel like your home is filled with obstacles. Doors may be hard to open and lamps are difficult to turn on. Incorporate assistive devices, technologies, and other home modifications to make life easier and also safer for arthritis sufferers.
Look into physical and occupational therapy
A physical therapist can create an exercise routine for you which will likely include range-of-motion exercises. This can make it easier to do everyday things like using the bathroom, putting on shoes, or standing up. Strength training activity can strengthen the muscles which support joints. Cardiovascular exercise such as walking or swimming can help you maintain overall fitness acumen as well. Alternatively, an occupational therapist will help to determine what activity you can and cannot do. They can address the ways to aid in making difficult tasks easier on you. For example, they could suggest some changes to your home or situation that make daily living easier. To learn more about the difference between occupational and physical therapy, read our comprehensive guide.
Consider Alternative Therapies
When pain hits, it helps to have some non-drug methods of controlling pain or discomfort. Consider practicing guided imagery, meditation, and visualization which can relax you and minimize your pain. Similarly, check out all the great benefits Tai Chi has in combating arthritis. Acupuncture, which is the practice of inserting tiny needles into your skin, has also been shown to reduce inflammation within swollen joints as well.
Add in Supplements
Herbal remedies have been a part of different cultures and medical approaches around the world for ages to help with a variety of conditions. Some supplements that might help ease swelling and pain include ginger, turmeric, and omega-3. Talk to your physician before adding in supplements as part of any treatment approach. In addition to their medical insight, they can determine if any supplements could interfere or interact with your current medication regimen.
Stick to Your Medicine Regimen
Taking your drug regimen precisely as prescribed by your physician is key to controlling flares. If you’re unable to take your medicine routinely for more than a day, talk to your doctor to create a plan to manage your symptoms. Tell the doctor if you are feeling depressed or anxious. Your physician may be able to prescribe an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication that can help. Some antidepressants may also help you manage pain.
Being healthy with a chronic illness like arthritis can be challenging and make you feel a loss of control. By practicing self-care and adding in remedies to improve your symptoms, you may be able to better manage and control the symptoms and emotional concerns of arthritis. For arthritis sufferers that need a little extra assistance, home care is a great option to keep your independence at home through assistance with daily activities of living .
Chosen Family Home Care is a supportive home care provider for seniors and their loved ones. Through our comprehensive needs assessment and our mission-driven approach, we can determine the best course of action for your loved one, while considering your budget and the individual requirements that seniors need.