About half of all people at or above age 65 suffer from some form of arthritis, making it a highly common ailment among senior citizens. There are multiple types of arthritis, but two of the most common among seniors are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
- OA: Osteoarthritis occurs as the padding between joints wears away. Generally, it is brought on by old age and is most likely to occur in the neck, hands, lower back, hips, or knees. It is characterized by stiffness and pain, which can be either mild or severe.
- RA: Unlike OA, rheumatoid arthritis is a disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the joints, causing redness, swelling, stiffness and pain. RA can attack any joint in the body and may even affect other organs, such as the eyes, heart, and nervous system.
The pain and stiffness caused by arthritis can have a negative impact on an individual’s lifestyle, making some normal activities difficult or painful while limiting mobility and independence. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to battle arthritis.
A change of diet can have many benefits for seniors experiencing arthritis. First of all, it can help with weight management. When combined with the right exercise, diet can help seniors lose weight and thereby reduce stress placed on arthritic joints.
In addition to helping manage weight, diets rich in antioxidants and omega 3s may also help reduce inflammation associated with arthritic pain. Arthritis-friendly foods include fish, berries, spinach, kale, broccoli, onions, nuts, and olive oil.
When done properly, exercise can help battle arthritis. Keeping your joints in motion keeps them healthy and strong, reduces stiffness, and increases energy levels. It can also help keep weight down, reducing stress on the joints.
When exercising, it is important to avoid anything too strenuous that will put unnecessary stress on the joints. In many cases, it is best to exercise with a physical therapist who can monitor movements and provide guidance.
Pain medication and anti-inflammatory drugs can help seniors cope with arthritis and return to activities that might have been too painful otherwise. Particularly sharp pain from OA can be treated with shots of corticosteroids to the joint. In the case of RA, anti-rheumatic drugs can slow its progress. Surgery may be necessary in extreme cases.
When choosing medical treatments, it is crucial to consult with a doctor and to be aware of any possible side effects from a given treatment.
Alternative or home remedies can help improve comfort while dealing with arthritis. Applying hot or cold to an affected area can help reduce the pain and relax the joint. Also, some supplements such as omega 3 may help reduce inflammation.
If you or a loved one is in need of assistance due to arthritis or some other health issue, an assisted living facility can provide much needed support. At Senior Care Centers, the comfort, health, and independence of our residents are at the forefront of our efforts. We help our residents foster healthy lifestyle practices while providing professional therapeutic and medical treatment to combat arthritis. For more information, contact us today.