There are many types of arthritis, but the two most common forms that your aging parent may be experiencing are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system fails to properly function; it affects hands, feet, and internal organs. Osteoarthritis is associated with age – wear and tear of joints, for the most part.
Arthritis can be extremely debilitating and very painful, but there are many things you can do to ensure that your aging parent can live at home with arthritis. Alleviating the fear of a loss of independence can go a long way toward helping your parent maintain a positive attitude.
Pain management is one of the biggest issues for sufferers of arthritis; to live well with arthritis, keeping the pain under control is critical. Help ensure that your parent is able to see his or her physician regularly; encourage him or her to remember to take medications regularly, and encourage as much physical activity as the condition allows. Alternative pain relief therapies include hot showers, stretching, ice packs, acupuncture and resting. If your aging parent’s symptoms worsen, be sure to seek medical help immediately. A doctor may be able to give your parent cortisone shots or provide a supportive brace to help support the joint.
“Pain management is one of the biggest issues for sufferers of arthritis; to live well with arthritis, keeping the pain under control is critical.”
In certain cases, particularly when arthritis attacks the knee or hip, joint replacement surgery may be an option. Your aging parent may rely on you to help arrange in-home health care to ensure that he or she will be able to remain at home while recuperating. The more you can do to assist your parent in living at home with arthritis, the better.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, when arthritis sufferers choose to actively take control of their arthritis pain and use positive and healthy strategies to cope with arthritis, they live longer, more productive, and more satisfying lives. In many cases, your aging parents simply need the support and encouragement you can provide to help them live at home and stay positive about maintaining independence.
Improving arthritis with healthy habits
To help your parent live at home with arthritis, encourage him or her to pursue a healthy diet and weight, and to exercise regularly. Oranges, orange juice, and other sources of vitamin C and antioxidants have been shown to reduce the risk of osteoarthritis and its progression, according to the Arthritis Foundation; maintaining a lower body weight reduces pressure on joints. There are many technological items that can foster continued independence. If your parent’s joints hurt too much to walk up and down stairs, install a ramp. If carrying heavy objects is difficult, there are carts available that allow groceries to be brought in from the car or items to be moved around the house without stressing already painful joints and muscles.
Swimming, water aerobics, and other pool-focused exercises not only improve health, but also reduce the level of pain arthritis sufferers experience, while improving range of motion. Encourage your parent to go to the Y or a fitness club and spend time in the pool. The more he or she takes an active role in combating arthritis, the longer and more successfully your parent will be able to remain at home and maintain independence.