A Caregiver’s Guide on How to Care for an Elderly Person with Arthritis

Arthritis is a chronic inflammatory condition that causes pain, heat, and swelling in the joints, thus limiting the mobility of the patient affected by this disease.

Recent statistics shared by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, confirmed that the prevalence of arthritis increases with age, and approximately 50 percent of the senior U.S. citizens (65 years or older), are diagnosed with this condition. The same data estimates that by the year 2040, nearly 78 million American adults are likely to be diagnosed with arthritis.

It can be extremely painful to learn that one of your elderly loved ones is forced to deal with this debilitating condition. Caring for your loved one suffering from arthritis can be a challenging task. Therefore, the more you know about this condition and your role as a caregiver, the more skilled you are to offer a caring hand to your loved one.

Here are six tips that will enable you to assist your ailing family member who is coping with this painful condition.

1. Know More About the Condition

Arthritis is a general medical term used for over 100 different conditions of the joints. Besides joints, a few types of arthritis can affect other organs like eyes and skin. Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis are the two most common forms of arthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage damaged causing inflammation in the joint. On the other hand, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that affects the joints. In both the cases, there is pain and tenderness in the joints of the wrists, hands, knees and ankles.

A patient of arthritis will complain of pain, stiffness, warmth and swelling in the affected joints. The onset of the disease can be gradual or sudden, and can severely affect oneís mobility. The disease limits the patientís ability to perform simple tasks like bathing, combing hair, wearing clothes or opening a closet.

Knowing what to expect from this painful condition will help you understand what your senior family member is dealing with. Gather as much information as possible on this subject; the knowledge will empower you to care for him/her in a better way.

2. Make Your House Safe for Senior Living

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults with arthritis are 2.5 times more likely to have a fall in comparison to an adult without arthritis. Patients with arthritis often complain of stiffness in the joints, which is responsible for their uneven gait. Owing to this, they tend to easily lose their balance while moving around.

Thus, you must do everything possible to make the house safe for your senior family member. Make sure the house is well-lit, use non-slip rugs or rug pads under your existing carpets, tie up loose electrical wires and keep any protruding/potentially unsafe furniture out of the way, so as to reduce the risk of a fall.

3. Motivate Him/Her to Exercise Daily

Elderly patients with arthritis find it tough to move their joints; however, this shouldnít be an excuse to avoid exercising regularly. Certain exercises help in lubricating the joints and strengthening the tissues around the joints. Thus, in the long run, physical activities help in alleviating the pain and the stiffness.

Encourage your senior family member to engage in low-impact fitness activities like yoga, walking and swimming. These exercises exert negligible pressure on the joints and hence can be included as a part of his/her routine. Your family medical practitioner or physical therapist can also guide you on the exercises that can help in strengthening muscles and easing joint movements. Though your loved one will complain of a little pain initially, you must continue to motivate him/her to keep exercising regularly.

4. Pay Attention to His/Her Diet

Diet plays a crucial role in the management of arthritis, especially if your aged loved one is obese. Obesity increases the pressure on the joints, damages the cartilage and leads to further functional disability.

Therefore, it is advisable to encourage healthy eating habits. One way of doing this is to avoid high carbohydrate meals and junk food items. Persuade your loved one to include vegetables and fruits in his/her diet.

5. Offer Regular Reminders on His/Her Medication Schedule

Adherence to medications is a big challenge among the elderly population. This is primarily because with age, they have to take multiple medicines to manage common age-related ailments and to extend their life span. In a recent poll, researchers found that one in four senior U.S. citizens (65 years and older) takes 10-19 pills each day and an alarming 57 percent of this population forget to take their medications owing to which their condition gradually worsens.

In view of the above scenario, you will be required to remind your loved one of the medications he/she is supposed to take daily. Bear in mind that due to the pain and stiffness in joints, he/she may find it challenging to walk to the medicine cabinet or even open a pill organizer.

You can overcome this challenge by investing in an easy-to-open pill box that could be placed on his/her bedside.

6. Offer Assistance With Daily Activities

Arthritis has been the leading cause of disability among senior U.S. adults for the past fifteen years. Seniors suffering from arthritis find it challenging to perform routine tasks owing to their limited range of motion. Thus, as a caregiver, you will have to offer assistance when required. Your senior loved one will depend on you for each of his/her basic needs like taking medications, exercising, bathing, having timely meals, socializing and pursuing his/her interests. It is wise to be around them so as to assist them with these routine activities.

Life as a caregiver isnít easy, when you have other responsibilities to attend to. If your hands are full with multiple domestic and work-related responsibilities or you often travel for work, you may find it tough to keep up with the mounting needs of your aging loved one. In such cases, hiring a professional home health care service can help you manage your family member with ease.

Owing to the constant demand of this service, specialized home health care assistance is available in every corner of the country. For instance, if you live in Albuquerque, you can look for a home health care Albuquerque . These centers have a trained and experienced team who can manage your elderly loved one and can help improve his/her quality of life.

 

Evan Thompson, CEO and founder of Senior.One has a long standing interest in finding solutions for seniors. He helps connect senior citizens and their family members with elder care service providers and find the resources they need in one place.

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