Living With Senior Arthritis

Published by Steve Hedberg on February 9, 2010 Under arthritis

Arthritis is a term used to describe more than 100 different diseases that often affects the elderly, but can also affect people of any age. There are a number of factors that can affect the ability of a senior to get around, but it is often arthritis that causes these sorts of problems. While there are actually over a hundred types of arthritis, it commonly affects the joints of the body, causing swelling, inflammation, and making movements painful.

Among those who are over 65, arthritis is one of the more common diseases, with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis being the most common.

Living With Arthritis

Since the effects of arthritis can not be reversed, it is very important to focus treatment on preventing the disease from getting worse and monitoring its progression.

Whenever possible, a healthy diet and regular exercise should be the first line of defense, with medications taking a less important role. This is because daily use of most common medications, such as ibuprofen or Tylenol, are often only marginally effective and carry with it a number of dangerous side effects. For example, many of the Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Medications (NSAIDS,) including those that are only available by prescription, can cause kidney damage and increase the risk for kidney failure.

Instead of taking medications, preforming regular low impact exercises has been shown in many cases to reduce the effects of arthritis. However, it is very important to avoid exercises like soccer or running, as these put a lot of strain on the joints and can increase joint pain. Water sports are usually a good choice, such as water aerobics or swimming. Most cities with a public pool offer water aerobic courses, so this can be a good place to start.

Finding and Addressing Problem Activities

It is important to identify any tasks that are difficult for a senior or other individualism with arthritis, so that ways can be found of making these tasks easily. This is very important for improving the ability of a senior to preform the essential activities of daily life(ADL,) which include things like preparing food, cleaning dishes, washing, and using the bathroom.

The first step to improving ADL is to determine what causes the arthritis pain to become worse or when during the day it becomes worse. Using a daily journal can help pinpoint when during the day the arthritis gets worse and what activities may be causing it.

Once an activity is determined to be difficult or to cause arthritis pain, the next step is to brainstorm ways of addressing these problems and making them easier to preform. For instance, many seniors find that it is very difficult to grasp small items, such as pens or kitchen utensils, so a good place to start is to invest in tools with larger handles. Using bags with wheels, even when preforming regular tasks such as the laundry, can also help.

However, other problems may be less obvious and require more troubleshooting, but by taking each activity that is difficult or causes arthritis pain and finding a way to preform it easier, living with arthritis can be made much easier.

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