Arthritis is a painful disease that impacts many people as they age. The pain and stiffness caused by various types of arthritis tend to reduce mobility. That said, seniors with arthritis can still enjoy a thriving and comfortable life with the proper support and management solutions! Let’s explore how to manage arthritis pain.
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis refers to the inflammation and stiffness of the joints and can be caused by various diseases, infections, conditions, and wear and tear of the body over time. Did you know? There are more than 100 different types of arthritis affecting older adults. But here are the four most common types to be aware of:
- Osteoarthritis: Also known as degenerative joint disease or “wear and tear,” Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage of a joint breaks down, providing less cushion to the bones around the hands, hips, and knees.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis: Rheumatoid Arthritis, often called RA, is an autoimmune, inflammatory disease that causes the immune system to attack healthy cells in the body, resulting in swelling and inflammation.
- Gout: Although it’s known to be one of the most painful types of arthritis, gout usually only affect one joint at a time. People with gout often cycle through flares of worsening symptoms, and remissions where symptoms are almost non-existent.
- Fibromyalgia: A chronic disorder that can start at an earlier age, fibromyalgia results in pain and fatigue throughout the body. In severe cases, it can also lead to memory and mood difficulties.
Regardless of the type of arthritis, it’s a painful condition and should be managed accordingly! Arthritis can cause discomfort that makes mobility difficult and discourages those dealing with it from staying active in their daily life.
How Arthritis Pain Impacts Seniors
The pain and discomfort of arthritis can make daily life very difficult for seniors, especially in the mornings or during weather changes. The pain of arthritis often is the worst in the morning, when joints are stiff and very tender. This can make it particularly hard to get out of bed and may lead to feelings of isolation and depression.
Arthritis also affects mobility and the capability to manage household chores and activities of daily living. Seniors living with arthritis may find it increasingly difficult to live independently, as the pain limits their ability to move and take care of themselves.
Five Tips for Managing Arthritis Pain
Although arthritis pain can be difficult to endure, it is not unmanageable. Here are a few ways you can ease the discomfort and energize your mind and your body to work through arthritis pain.
Although a flare-up of arthritis may make staying in bed or resting on the couch preferable to getting up and moving, stretching and exercising your joints can go a long way in lessening the pain and tenderness!
The best exercises for arthritis pain are low-impact aerobic exercises, such as cycling, swimming, water aerobics, stretching, walking, and group exercises designed specifically for seniors and those living with arthritis. Here at St. Anthony’s, our residents have access to our fitness center, with programs designed specifically to support residents with the right kinds of workouts for arthritis.
Eat a Well-Balanced Diet
What you eat can make a huge difference when it comes to managing arthritic pain! Some foods can actually cause inflammation, whereas others can decrease inflammation and strengthen your joints. An arthritis-friendly diet should include:
- Brightly colored fruits like oranges, tangerines, and papayas
- Vitamin D-rich foods like orange juice, fortified milk, and certain types of fish
- Vegetables such as bell peppers, pumpkin, and carrots
- Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids
Additionally, it’s important to avoid inflammatory foods such as red meats and full-fat dairy foods.
Balanced diets can be delicious diets! Our menus at St. Anthony’s are both chef-inspired and dietician-approved.
Talk to Your Healthcare Provider
If you have been diagnosed with an arthritic disease, or suspect you may have one, the most important thing is to talk to your doctor. A healthcare professional can advise you on everything from exercise to diet. They also may recommend a weight management plan to ease the stress on your joints and can provide prescription medication for pain management.
Don’t Overdo It!
Although movement and activity are good for arthritis pain, overdoing it isn’t! Avoid overly strenuous activities that may increase swelling in your joints (avoid high-impact cardio or long hikes, for instance), and know your personal limits.
This can be a fine balance between working out the discomfort with light exercise and not straining your joints, so work closely with your healthcare provider to make sure you are getting the right amount of activity and rest for your specific needs.
Consider Moving to Assisted Living
If arthritis has reached the point of significantly limiting your mobility or ability to care for yourself, your doctor or loved ones may suggest moving to an assisted living facility. Assisted living may be just the support you need to start enjoying life again and managing your arthritis with a community of support.
How Assisted Living Can Help With Arthritis
At St. Anthony’s, we care about making every moment comfortable and joyful for our residents. With a loving staff, accessible facilities, and activities for every level of ability, we ensure we’re meeting (and exceeding!) the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs of each person who joins our community.
Residents managing arthritis pain can take comfort in the following support opportunities at St. Anthony’s:
- A fitness center with group exercise classes for all levels (including chair exercise)
- On-site healthcare staff to support medication management and physical therapy needs
- Chef-prepared, dietician-approved meals to ease inflammation and strengthen the joints
- Tender-hearted care and support with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) as much or little as is needed
- And so much more!
If arthritis impacts your mobility or your ability to live fully independently, we’d love to invite you to join the St. Anthony’s family! Schedule a tour today to see why we think our home should be yours too.