Living with Arthritis – A Guide for Seniors

Given that the month of May is Arthritis Awareness Month, now is a great time to consider how seniors can cope with the pain and discomfort of living with arthritis. There are actually quite a few simple daily activities you can undertake in an effort to relieve the distress of arthritis, and these self-management activities can also help improve your overall health in many cases. Some of the same activities you undertake for the relief of arthritis can also be helpful in managing diabetes, obesity, or heart disease. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the strategies recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), so you can put these into practice for yourself, or you can recommend them to a senior loved one.

Consult with your doctor

As soon as you realize that you have symptoms of arthritis or any other kind of noticeable joint pain, you should consult with your doctor. It’s very important to get the most accurate diagnosis possible at the earliest time frame so that an effective treatment program can be developed. When treatment is begun as soon as possible, it helps immensely to minimize symptoms and stem the progress of the disease. This is especially true for certain types of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and gout. The primary focus of any treatment program will be to reduce pain, lessen the damage done to joints, and improve quality of life for the afflicted person. You should be an active participant in this program, by keeping all scheduled appointments with your doctor, and by closely following the treatment plan which gets developed especially for you. This becomes even more important if you have any other chronic conditions such as heart disease or diabetes.

Control your weight

Anyone troubled with arthritis can do themselves a huge favor by losing excess weight and by maintaining it. Losing weight will have the effect of lowering the stress level exerted on joints for people who are significantly overweight or who are obese. The reduction of stress on joints like your hips and your knees will slow down the progress of arthritis and tend strongly to reduce the pain that you feel at the present time. Just by losing as little as 10 pounds, you’ll be able to reduce pain and improve your physical functionality. Regardless of your age, it will be worthwhile to embark on a program of low-impact physical activity like walking and to combine it with good, healthy dietary habits that will promote weight loss.

Protect your joints

Anytime you sustain some kind of joint injury, it will undoubtedly cause your arthritis to become worse. That’s why you should choose activities that are much less stressful on your joints, for example, swimming, bicycling, and walking. These are all low-impact activities that also provide little opportunity for injury, and exert very little twisting or stressing on your joints. Patients who sustain injuries from vehicle accidents, work accidents, or sports injuries are at an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis. You can help to minimize the chance of joint injuries and causing osteoarthritis to become worse by taking certain steps. Among these actions would be avoiding joint damage caused by repetitive motions, wearing seat belts whenever you’re traveling in vehicles, and always wearing protective equipment when engaging in risky activities.

Learn self-management skills

You can learn a great deal about self-management skills at a number of sponsored workshops that will provide you with the skills to make better decisions about your health and manage your arthritis at the same time. Some of the strategies you might learn at one of these workshops include managing pain and other symptoms, dealing with and lowering stress, participating in more value-added activities, improving communication with your healthcare provider, and feeling like you’re in better control of your health. There are a number of programs recognized by the CDC for the improvement of quality of life for arthritis patients.

Be more active

One of the best ways to relieve arthritis pain is by engaging regularly in physical activity. When you are physically active, it can help improve your functionality, your mood, and your overall quality of life. In addition, you will probably also enjoy better sleep at night, have better health for your bones and brain, and you’ll have better control of your weight. By being physically active, you can also lower the risk of developing other chronic diseases like diabetes or heart disease. If you already have these conditions, you’ll be able to manage them better. Even if you’re not in very good shape, you can still be as active as your general health permits. It’s very true that at least some physical activity is much better than none at all.

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