Arthritis Care: How do I Care for a Loved One with Arthritis?
Arthritis is a condition that causes pain and discomfort in the body’s joints. It’s an umbrella term for a wide range of conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory arthritis and metabolic arthritis. Osteoarthritis tends to be the most common form of arthritis.
Arthritis symptoms include pain and stiffness in the affected joints. Sometimes the joints can become noticeably swollen, and there is usually some degree of loss of movement, which can eventually become permanent.
The pain and discomfort of arthritis can be hard to cope with, so knowing how to help a loved one who is battling with ongoing symptoms is essential. There are various ways to alleviate pain and in some circumstances, reverse symptoms.
From over-the-counter remedies, such as ibuprofen and paracetamol, through to prescription-only drugs, such as naproxen, pain relief is available in many forms. However, it is not just medication that can help to relieve the pain of arthritis. Creams and patches can also provide significant pain-relieving effects, as can heated pads and hot-water bottles.
Home care assistance can be particularly helpful when it comes to home medicating for arthritis pain. A live-in carer can assist with tasks that your loved one may find challenging, such as opening bottles and jars. In the case of dementia care workers, they can ensure that medication is administered appropriately, following a medical practitioner’s directions.
The importance of good nutrition
One of the best ways of reducing the pain of arthritis, mainly when it affects the knees and hips, is to keep weight within recommended limits. Being overweight, even by a small amount, is known to increase the painful symptoms of arthritis significantly, so maintaining appropriate body weight is crucial.
A lack of good, nutritious foods will limit the body’s ability to function appropriately, so your loved one’s diet needs to be carefully monitored. Older people require an increased supply of protein to maintain optimum health levels, consider this when choosing an arthritis-appropriate diet.
Live-in care workers are ideally placed to ensure that your loved receives three balanced meals a day, carefully tailored to provide all the essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients necessary to ensure good health.
Colin and Dulcie’s story
Dulcie is 102-years-old and lives with her son Colin, his wife Mary, and her Carer Sarah. She has dementia and has had full-time live-in care for over two years.
We talk to the family about the challenges of finding the right care solution for a fiercely independent woman - and how the positive benefits of live-in care with Sarah has transformed all of their lives.
Keep up with an exercise regime
The pain associated with arthritis means movement might be difficult, making it tempting to rest and allow the joints to recover. However, this is counter-productive, as it will only lead to further pain and a loss of movement in the affected joints.
The key is to find an exercise that suits the needs of your loved one. Low-impact exercises are a great choice to avoid further damage to already inflamed joints. Swimming, Tai Chi, yoga and cycling are all excellent options; look out for classes explicitly aimed at older people which will accommodate all levels of fitness. Tai Chi can even be performed seated and is increasingly being cited by experts as the preferred exercise option for older people, as it has been proven to improve balance and coordination, in addition to raising self-esteem in the process.
Check for safety issues within the home
Someone with arthritis may not be able to move quickly in response to danger. The stiffness that is associated with the condition makes it difficult to navigate even the most seemingly harmless of obstacles. Avoid any possible accidents by clearing and decluttering floors.
Anyone involved in arthritis care understands the need for a safe home, which may require adaptation to make it appropriate for your loved one’s needs. Slippery surfaces can be hazardous, and your loved one may need to grab rails and handles when using the bathroom to help them with bathing.
Employing the services of a private care provider will give you and your loved one peace of mind throughout the day or night. Live-in carers are on hand to deal with any eventuality that may arise, so you know your loved one’s safety is always in good hands.
Continue to socialise
Those diagnosed with arthritis may feel down, causing them to avoid social interactions. However, having a healthy social life is essential for good mental health, particularly as we get older. Elderly care opens up a variety of opportunities for your loved one to get out and about and enjoy themselves.
As anyone who has ever experienced pain knows, distraction is an excellent way of taking your mind off it. It’s essential to encourage your loved one to get out of the home and meet up with others for events, trips, classes, lunches, teas or just a general get-together.
The pain of arthritis should never limit your loved one’s lifestyle. With the right advice, help and support, no one should have to experience ongoing discomfort.
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