An estimated 54.4 million American adults over the age of 18 are diagnosed with some form of arthritis every year. It is reported that for Americans 65 and older, 49.6% have arthritis. The condition causes joint pain and stiffness, resulting in a limited range of motion. Specifically for seniors, this could become a hindrance from being independent and maintaining a good quality of life. Although there’s yet to be an effective cure for arthritis, there are a number of ways to ease the symptoms and manage the pain. As home caregivers, you’re in a position to aid these seniors and ensure that they continue to live comfortable and meaningful lives.
Keep them active
Regular exercise is one of the best non-pharmaceutical treatments for pain management. This helps strengthen the muscles and alleviates pressure on the joints. In addition, staying active also contributes to seniors’ overall health and fitness.
In our previous post, we listed down some of the best exercises for seniors. They have just the right intensity and they also target the right joints. For gross motor movement, have them do hip and knee bends, knee rotations, and walking or light jogging activities. Seniors with arthritis also need to keep their fine motor skills in check, so make sure your exercise routine includes exercises for the smaller joints, such as finger bends, finger-to-thumb touches, and toe bends.
Get professional help
While arthritis isn’t a life-threatening condition, it could lead to damaged joints and further disabilities when left untreated. This is why collaborating with care teams is a must for caregivers. Seniors need to see their doctors regularly and have routine checkups and evaluations.
However, it may be difficult to gain access to these services during the pandemic. On top of the ongoing health crisis, there’s also the looming shortage of healthcare professionals like physicians and nurses, specifically geriatric nurses. In America where there’s an aging population, this shortage could spell trouble. Fortunately, the rise of online learning is helping to bridge this gap as nurses can now become certified for geriatric care through online RN to BSN programs. They’re able to hone their skills and gain critical knowledge for senior care, including arthritis management. These programs are practical options for nurses since they’re taught completely online. This arrangement allows nurses to continue working as they pursue their advanced degrees, which are just as valid as those from conventional schools. Online learning helps produce more graduates to join the in-demand specialization. These professionals can assist you in crafting effective arthritis management plans. You can also get in touch with them whenever you need clarification – skilled, professional help should always be an option.
Use arthritis aids
Arthritis can prevent seniors from performing daily tasks. Even something as simple as opening a jar could become a huge challenge for them. Sure, you can help out and do these things for them, but it would give them a sense of accomplishment and autonomy when they’re able to function independently.
There are tons of assistive devices and tools specifically designed for people with arthritis. For instance, tools like jar grippers and gripped cooking utensils can make food preparation easier. You could even get dressing sticks so that these seniors can perform self-care, or padded hand grips for their walkers to assist them in their mobility. When you do get these aids for them, make sure to practice with them and get them comfortable with using the tools on their own.
Arthritis can affect several aspects of seniors’ daily lives, but when given the right treatment, these effects can be kept at a minimum. Proper care can make all the difference.
Article made only for wrc.org
By Amy Danes