Arthritis is not actually a diagnosis — it’s a general term that covers more than 100 diseases and conditions affecting the joints.

One in five adults suffer from arthritis, and the majority of these are seniors.

For those that live with arthritis every day, the symptoms can be a barrier to doing the hobbies they love. But with managements strategies and lifestyle changes, many seniors find that they can continue the activities that bring them hope, purpose and joy.

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:

Generally, symptoms of arthritis can include any of the following: 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. While arthritis cannot be cured, it can be managed to limit the impact it has on seniors.

Strategies for arthritis management:

A physician can recommend arthritis management strategies and approve all plans to change or increase physical activity.

• Lifestyle changes: Seniors with arthritis may need to stop performing certain activities or limit them. 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.

• 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. A doctor should be consulted before seniors begin any exercise regimen.

• 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.

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. Our 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. Our goal is to see that clients have the means to find the joy and happiness in each day, regardless of age or acuity.

Call 603-536-6060 or visit our website at nhcomfortkeepers.com for more information.

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