Arthritis causes painful and stiff joints which limit mobility. This chronic illness makes it difficult for sufferers to manage their day-to-day care. When caring for a senior citizen with arthritis you want to make sure your home is safe and secure and as comfortable as possible to alleviate the symptoms.
Arthritis can flare up in joints practically anywhere in the body. Each type of arthritis has its own symptoms. Some types of arthritis cause redness and swelling, others don’t. The pain varies in frequency and duration.
Types of Arthritis
Arthritis is one of the most common diseases among the elderly. The most common variations are gout, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis. Each kind of arthritis has its own symptoms and treatments.
- Gout: For many years, gout, also known as podagra, was considered to be a rich man’s disease. It’s one of the most agonizing and debilitating forms of arthritis. Gout very often display symptoms in the big toe, where uric acid crystals are deposited at the metatarsal-phalangeal joint.As with many diseases, there does not seem to be a simple, direct cause for gout. It is believed that using alcohol, taking certain medications and being obese will aggravate the symptoms. Recent studies seem to indicate that eating foods rich in purin may not trigger gout attacks.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis:It is caused by an autoimmune disorder which causes your body to attack its own joint tissue. The symptoms include stiffness, swelling and pain that can last for hours at a time. It can affect different joints around the body at the same time. It often causes people to feel rundown and fevered. Women seem to be more susceptible to rheumatoid arthritis than men. Rheumatoid arthritis can also cause problems with your blood vessels, eyes, heart, muscles and nervous system.
- Osteoarthritis: It is very common in older people. Osteoarthritis damages the cartilage in joints and causes it to wear away. Without enough cartilage, bones start to scrape against each other. It’s very commonly seen in the hands, lower back, neck, hips and knees.There’s a wide range of symptoms with osteoarthritis ranging from mild pain and stiffness to extreme pain that doesn’t stop even when at rest. Primary osteoarthritis is a chronic degenerative disorder associated with aging. As we get older the water content in our cartilage tends to decrease causing joint damage.
Symptoms of Arthritis
- Redness and warmth around joints
- Stiffness in joints
- Swelling joints
- Chronic joint pain
- Tenderness near joints
- Loss of mobility
If you’re experiencing the symptoms for more than a few weeks consult your primary physician or meet with a rheumatologist. If stiffness and pain are associated with a fever you should seek medical advice at once.
The bulk of arthritis treatments revolve around appropriate physical activity and prescriptions. Purchasing the right type of walking shoe, using a cane or walker and modifying the home to make day-to-day chores easier will go a long way to easing the symptoms of arthritis.
NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are often prescribed to help reduce pain and swelling. While many of these medications are available over-the-counter without a prescription it would be wise to consult with your physician if you’re currently taking other medications.
Exercise and good nutrition can help mitigate symptoms of arthritis and often delay its appearance. Start right now to get more physical activity, appropriate to your age and physical condition. Always consult your doctor before beginning an exercise or physical fitness program, especially when you are over age 70.
- Aerobic exercise is like jogging, bicycling and swimming can help reduce some swelling in your joints as well as helping you lose weight and build a stronger heart.
- Weightlifting and other strengthening exercises can help you maintain or improve your muscle strength. Having strong muscles will protect your body’s joints.
- Exercises that improve flexibility, known as range of motion exercises like yoga, we’ll keep you agile and improve your balance. Stretching might also help relieve stiffness.
There are lots of quack remedies out on the market for arthritis. Many senior citizens get desperate and are willing to waste their cash for some hope of relief. I suggest you talked to your physician before medicating yourself.
Senior Safety and Arthritis
Arthritis can seriously limit mobility and its associated stiffness can make it very difficult for a senior citizen to reach a telephone and call for help in the event of medical emergency. As a precaution, install telephones at waist level in several rooms around the house including the bathroom.
Invest in a senior medical alert. These life-saving panic buttons are worn around the neck and when activated send a distress signal to a call center who can summon help. The call center can help the senior get in touch with neighbors, nearby relatives or emergency response personnel.
For more eldercare and senior health tips visit ElderKind.com.