Providers of home health care in California make it a point to manage arthritis effectively for our beloved seniors, as it is one of the many health concerns that affect the elderly. While it isn’t as life threatening as other health issues, it can significantly affect their daily lives and well-being. You, too can also provide care and help your elderly loved ones. Here is a guide for providing arthritis management care for them.
How Arthritis Affects The Elderly
Arthritis is a condition characterized by inflammation in the joints in the body. It causes them to become stiff and harder to move. Those who have the condition also experience pain in their joints. Arthritis can lead to various disabilities that prevent seniors from doing their daily routines.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 22% of American adults are affected by the condition. This number goes up significantly with age, with nearly half of people over 65 afflicted with it. Additionally, women are more susceptible to the disease.
Types Of Arthritis
Scientists have identified over 100 different types of arthritis. Of these types, the three most common ones affecting seniors are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout.
This condition results when the cartilage around the joint starts breaking down. While it can happen to any joint, osteoarthritis is most often present in load-bearing ones like the hands, the knees, and the spinal cord.
Some of the common symptoms that indicate osteoarthritis include:
- Aching and pain in the joints
- Swelling of the joint
- Hard lumps around the joint, called bone spurs
- Grating sensation when moving the joint
The symptoms gradually worsen as you get older. Thus, you might not notice that you have it until your senior years when it starts affecting your mobility.
Rheumatoid arthritis is another prevalent form of arthritis among the elderly. This one is triggered when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the cells in the joints. That leads to inflammation and the thickening of the tissues lining the joint. If left unchecked, it can also damage the bones.
This kind is a complex form of arthritis that can affect everyone but is most prominent in older people. Symptoms include sudden, severe pain that usually affects the big toe. But it can also affect other joints.
Gout attacks can happen at any time. Episodes are characterized by swelling of the affected joint. It can also become so tender that even a slight touch can cause discomfort, with the joint feeling hot. The symptoms eventually fade. But it can leave the elderly anxious about when the next attack would be.
What Causes Arthritis?
While arthritis is prevalent among seniors, it is not part of the normal aging process. Vital to effectively managing the condition is understanding what causes it. As there are several different types of arthritis, their exact cause can vary.
However, several factors can increase the likelihood of the condition.
- Lifestyle: Engaging in too much heavy physical activity can increase the rate of joint deterioration.
- Previous injury: If you have sustained a persistent joint injury, this can also be prone to progressing into full-blown arthritis.
- Family history: Some types of arthritis can also pass down from your parents to you.
- Obesity: A higher body weight will cause more stress to your joints, resulting in damage.
- Diseases: Some immune illnesses can increase the risk of certain arthritis types, most notably rheumatoid arthritis.
Note that your condition might be due to a combination of several factors. Thus, get a thorough medical assessment to pinpoint the cause more accurately and plan out how to manage it.
Whether you are staying on your own or under home health care in California, managing arthritis follows the same strategy. Your goal is to lessen the pain you or your elder loved one experiences. From there, you want to regain some more mobility from the affected joints, which will let you return to at least some of the activities you want to do.
Managing Controllable Risk Factors
The first step in implementing an effective arthritis management plan for seniors is controlling those risk factors that can be modified. One such factor is diet. As mentioned earlier, being overweight can put a lot of burden on your joints. By controlling your food intake and losing weight, you lessen that burden.
Additionally, you would want to have more of the foods that promote joint strength. These include:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Nuts and seeds
- Olive oil
But you do need to be aware that certain foods can potentially increase arthritis pain. Tomatoes are one such food item that you would at least want to lessen. Consult a dietician to help you better determine the right combination of food items.
The next part of arthritis management for seniors is lessening the pain they experience. There are several ways that you can go here.
- Medication: Some common over-the-counter drugs that can relieve the pain include ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen.
- Physical therapy: The goal of arthritis-oriented therapy is to strengthen the muscles and increase joint range. The therapists can also help you select the correct support device for your joints.
- Surgery: You can opt for procedures like joint replacement or bone realignment to restore the affected joint back to normal.
The management methods that you choose will depend mainly on the severity of the pain you experience. Your current health condition will also affect the specifics of the pain treatment you will use.
Improving Joint Health
While your joints might be weakened by arthritis, you can still nurse them back to health. The right kind of exercise works well here. Some of the types that you would want to focus on are:
- Range of motion exercises: Activities like dancing and yoga will help you put your joints to their full movement and relieve stiffness.
- Strength training: By building muscle strength, seniors like you can create strong support around the joints to relieve stress.
- Aerobic and endurance exercises: Aside from improving joint movement, these exercises will keep your whole body fit and lessen the pressure on your joints.
Be sure to choose the right exercises so that you don’t put unwanted stress on your joints. There are a wide variety of low-impact exercises designed specifically for seniors like you. You can also ask a physical trainer as to other activities you can do for improved joint health.
Don’t Be Hampered By Arthritis In Your Senior Years
While arthritis is a lifelong condition, it should not deter you from enjoying your senior years. By following the management strategies we have outlined, you can get back to the activities you love. And Amavi can help by providing the best home health care in California to support you. Contact us today.