Arthritis is a medical condition that affects the joints and connective tissue surrounding the joints. Although this condition tends to affect the elderly, it can affect the young as well. According to figures published by Statistics Canada, 17% of Canadians aged 17 years or older suffer from arthritis. The key for caregivers assisting senior citizens suffering from arthritic pain is understanding the condition. Here are some of the things that caregivers can do to assist the elderly in coping with the condition.
Many seniors simply forget to take medications to combat arthritic pain regularly. Make sure you remind the senior you are assisting to take his or her medications. Keep in mind that the elderly might find it hard to reach medication stored inside cabinets or open medicine bottles that are hard to open. If this is the case, transfer the drugs into containers that are easy to open and easily accessible drawers.
Arthritis should not be an excuse for seniors to avoid exercise. In fact, physical activity should be part of an arthritis patient’s routine. However, patients should engage in low impact exercises such as yoga, swimming, walking, or riding a bike. This is because such exercises exert minimal pressure on the joints.
In general, a patient should take it easy at first and then pick up the pace over time to avoid the risk of developing injuries. Strengthening tissues and muscles surrounding the affected joints is one way of alleviating joint pain.
Diet plays a big role in the management of arthritis, especially for obese or overweight seniors who exert more pressure on their joints due to their excess weight and consequently make arthritis symptoms even worse. In view of this, it is wise to encourage overweight or obese seniors to lose excess weight.
An effective way of achieving this goal is by avoiding sugar-laden foods such as candy or chocolate. The same is true for foods that contain a lot of fat and salt. Instead, it is wise to encourage seniors to eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. According to the Arthritis Society, women should have waist circumference (WC) less than 35 inches. For men, the waist circumference should be less than 40 inches.
As much as possible, caregivers should encourage seniors living with arthritis to interact with other people, especially outdoors. This is because by simply socializing and connecting with other people while engaging in outdoor activities, seniors can forget about their pain, albeit for a while. Encouraging patients to take part in activities and hobbies that elicit feelings of joy and happiness would also have the same effect. A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience found that activities that make a person happy lead to the release of feel-good hormones such as dopamine.
Assistance with Daily Activities
Seniors experiencing arthritic pain might require help with daily activities such as cooking, taking a bath, going to the hospital for medical checkups and arthritis medications, as well as exercising. Provide assistance where necessary, and don’t wait for seniors to request for help. Some elderly people who were previously independent might try to act strong. Just be observant and offer your help when the seniors you are helping find it hard to finish tasks or physical activities.
Elderly citizens struggling with arthritic pain may be unable to take care of themselves due to joint pain. It is advisable for caregivers to assist them take their medications, exercise, eat healthy foods, engage in hobbies, and carry out daily tasks such as preparing meals. Professional assistance is available through services like home support and personal care. Although these steps will not eliminate or cure joint pain, they will help seniors lead meaningful and quality lives.
For more information
The most comprehensive guide to arthritis can be found at the Arthritis Society website.