Arthritis can be painful and difficult for people to deal with so family members should know how to help those with arthritis so that they can assist their loved ones when necessary. Knowing about the different types of arthritis can also be very helpful for family caregivers so that they know exactly what to expect when dealing with their loved ones. We at Carefect Home Care Services would like to offer some tips on how to help seniors with arthritis.
Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis
There are two different types of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis causes swelling of the joints as well as joint damage. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage between the joints disintegrates causing the bones to rub against each other. Both types of arthritis can cause the joints to become inflamed and stiff which makes it hard for those with arthritis to move their joints. Arthritis usually occurs in the joints in the hands, wrists, knees and feet which can make it hard for those with arthritis to move around or pick things up.
Medications are the best way to manage arthritis, but many seniors forget to take their medication regularly or only take it when their pain becomes excruciating. Family caregivers should make sure that they are familiar with their loved one’s medication so that they can make sure they are taking it as prescribed so that their symptoms can be kept under control. Many seniors also have trouble opening their medication because of their joint pain so it can be helpful for family caregivers to put the medication into an alternate container that is easier for their loved one to open. Cold packs or heat packs are also very helpful for relieving joint pain from arthritis. Family caregivers can keep cold packs in the freezer or keep a supply of heat packs on hand and provide them to their loved one when necessary. Family caregivers can alternate the hot and cold packs regularly or let their loved one decide which type of therapy works best for them and stick with that method. Some doctors advise against using heat, so before applying a heat pack it is best to talk to your loved one’s doctor to find out what they believe is best for your loved one.
Strengthening the Muscles
Strengthening the muscles surrounding arthritic joints is another way to help alleviate pain. Many doctors and physical therapists can suggest exercises that family caregivers can help their loved ones complete at home on a regular basis that will strengthen their muscles and allow for easier joint movements. When seniors are not exercising their muscles they should try to limit their movements that require usage of their joints that are affected with arthritis. Moving slowly and fluidly when using arthritic joints is also helpful because it puts less wear on the joints. Family caregivers should also discourage their loved ones from lifting heavy objects and encourage them to rest their joints as much as possible.
Another thing to consider when dealing with arthritis id diet and exercise plans. It is important for those with arthritis to watch their weight. Excess weight can make arthritis symptoms worse since the extra weight puts more strain on the muscles and joints. Family caregivers can help their loved ones exercise on a regular basis or exercise with them so that they will stay in shape and maintain a healthy body weight. Family caregivers can also help their loved ones watch their weight by making sure that they will eat healthy meals on a daily basis.
The last thing that family caregivers can do for their loved ones is to make sure that things in their home are easily accessible. Keeping scissors on hand for opening packages can be very helpful for those with arthritis because the pain and inflammation from arthritis can make opening things very difficult. Electric can openers and tools for opening jars are also useful, especially for those who do not have a live in caregiver. Seniors might not think to buy these things on their own, but purchasing these items can be an inexpensive way for family caregivers to help their loved ones.
Family caregivers can follow these tips to help assist their elderly loved ones in managing their arthritis. Family caregivers should keep in mind that joint pain and inflammation can make even the simplest daily tasks difficult and should be very patient and helpful when caring for their loved ones. Family caregivers that are still having trouble caring for their loved ones can speak with their loved one’s doctor for additional information that is specific to their loved one or consider hiring a homecare service provider that is trained in this area.
For additional related articles in our home care blog:
- Arthritis and seniors: The Basics
- Swollen Ankles in the Elderly: Causes, Prevention and Treatment
- Exercise Tips for Seniors with limited mobility (2 Parts)