Arthritis affects nearly half of the senior population in the United States. The good news when it comes to senior arthritis is that treatment have advanced to the point where pain associated with joint inflammation can often be successfully managed without the need for surgical intervention. The following are a few ways family caregivers can help their loved ones better manage the pain and discomfort with arthritis.
Rest and Effective Sleep
Getting a good night’s – meaning uninterrupted – sleep may reduce arthritis pain aggravated by overexertion and fatigue. For seniors having trouble sleeping due to recurring pain, timing medications to sleep habits may help.
Exercise and Physical Therapy
Douglas County senior care experts say that taking regular walks or joining an aerobics class may actually improve the strength of bones and joints to the point where discomfort is minimal. For seniors with more severe arthritis, a trained physical therapist can often recommended modified exercises that can be performed in a supervised setting. The following exercises may also be helpful:
- Strengthening exercises (to help strengthen muscles supporting joints)
- Range-of-motion exercises (to improve flexibility)
- Balance and agility exercises (to reduce the risk of falling)
Diet and Weight Loss
Losing weight can reduce added pressure on joints and muscles. Dietary changes have also been shown to be effective in some patients since some foods may make inflammation worse.
Certain medications to treat arthritis, most notably various NSAIDs, may cause side effects such as stomach bleeding in seniors with a history of ulcers. For this reason, doctors tend to start senior patients on milder medications to control pain like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil).
When the above treatments fail to provide relief, surgery becomes an option. Arthritis surgery can involve the removal of bone and cartilage placing pressure on joints supporting knees, hips and elbows or complete joint replacement with an artificial joint.
Other alternative treatments that family caregivers can discuss with their loved one’s doctor can include:
- Application of heat and cold
- Nutritional supplements
- Light massage therapy (since arthritis can increase muscle sensitivity)
Do you have an aging parent or loved one who is living with arthritis? Is it becoming more and more difficult for him or her to carry out activities of daily living? Provide them with the support they need and deserve and request information about in-home care.
Home Care Assistance is recognized as the Douglas County live-in care experts, offering flexible care schedules anywhere from four to twenty four hours a day. We offer highly trained caregivers and never ask our clients to sign a long-term contract. For more information, call 720-441-3522 and schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation with an experienced Care Manager.