One in five adults suffer from arthritis, and the majority of these are seniors. For older adults to understand the stages of living with arthritis, it’s helpful to talk about how the disease is identified, diagnosed and managed.

Signs and symptoms

Symptoms of arthritis can include joint redness, swelling, pain, stiffness, warmth, or difficulty with movement. Many people are familiar with arthritis of the hands and feet, but they don’t always realize that it can affect any joint in the body. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should visit their physician.

Diagnosis

When diagnosing arthritis, medical professionals will typically conduct a physical exam, and gather medical history and genetics information to help identify the type of arthritis. Blood tests and imaging may be necessary as well. The type and severity of the arthritis will determine the ongoing treatment plan. While arthritis cannot be cured, it can be managed to limit the impact it has on seniors.

Strategies for arthritis management

The treating physician can recommend arthritis management strategies and should approve all plans to change or increase physical activity that may impact the condition.

  • Lifestyle changes - Seniors with arthritis may need to stop or limit performing certain activities. Depending on the area of the body affected, some hobbies may become more difficult. However, planning ahead can be helpful – for example, having a stool to sit on in the kitchen can help seniors that want to cook but have difficulty standing for long periods of time due to arthritis pain. Some seniors with arthritis get into the habit of using non-affected parts of the body more often. As an example, someone suffering from arthritis pain in their wrist may open doors by using their shoulder or elbow to push.
  • Movement - For some types of arthritis, sitting or working in one position for too long can cause the condition to worsen. Moving, walking and stretching every 15 minutes can be helpful. For some, setting an alarm as a reminder to prompt movement can be helpful.
  • Weight - Maintaining a healthy weight can be helpful in managing arthritis. Excess weight can cause strain on joints, worsening the condition. Anyone concerned about this should consult their physician for exercise and diet recommendations. Physical activity, if possible, can also help reduce arthritis symptoms in many cases.

Education and awareness are critical – seniors that may have arthritis, or have already been diagnosed, should engage their care team to develop management strategies.

Comfort Keepers Can Help

A care plan for arthritis can minimize the impact of the disease on a senior’s life, and Comfort Keepers can provide support for a management program. Staff caregivers remind clients to take medication, provide transportation to scheduled appointments, and support physician-prescribed exercise regimens and diets. As part of an individualized care plan, caregivers can also help with activities like cooking, cleaning and physical care.

To learn more, contact Comfort Keepers by calling 603-536-6060 or visiting www.comfortkeepers.com/plymouthnh.

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