Managing the Aches and Pains of Arthritis
Arthritis is a condition that can affect people of all ages, though many people associate it with older adults. Several types of arthritis are more common in seniors, but it is not specifically a disease of aging. May is National Arthritis Awareness Month and a great time to reflect on some strategies that can be beneficial in managing symptoms and enhancing quality of life.
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a disease that causes inflammation and stiffness in the joints. It can make bending the joints painful and reduce range of motion. Symptoms can come and go and vary in severity from one person to the next. Because there are more than 100 different types of arthritis, it can be challenging to predict who will be affected.
Managing Arthritis Symptoms
Fortunately, there are many options to help seniors manage the symptoms of arthritis. Simple lifestyle changes can be beneficial and contribute to overall well-being, not just arthritis care. Seniors can try different strategies to see what works best for them in providing relief and managing discomfort.
Staying active plays an integral role in symptom management. Daily stretching can help loosen stiff joints and maintain a greater range of motion. Engaging in low-impact activities such as walking, biking, swimming, or yoga can aid in strengthening muscles. Try to avoid exercises that put strain on your joints such as running or jumping.
Working with a physical therapist can be a great way to create an effective workout plan and improve posture to reduce stiffness and risk of injury. A PT can also teach different ways of moving when arthritis flares up to stay safe while managing mobility.
Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce stress on the joints, decrease pain, and improve mobility. Eating a healthy diet and staying active are already an integral part of managing symptoms and can contribute to weight management. Try to incorporate a variety of foods into your diet that are high in antioxidants and help reduce inflammation such as:
- Fish (salmon, tuna, scallops)
- Nuts (walnuts, almonds, pistachios)
- Dark green vegetables (kale, spinach, broccoli)
- Brightly colored produce (cherries, blueberries, red/orange peppers, tomatoes)
- Beans (kidney beans, pinto beans)
- Whole grains (oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice)
Stay On Top of Treatment
Make sure you are taking any medications as prescribed to help keep symptoms at bay or minimize impact. Try different approaches to see how your body reacts such as using hot or cold packs, getting acupuncture, engaging in massage therapy, or applying topical creams. Managing your mental health and surrounding yourself with people who help lift your mood and reduce stress can also help you feel better. Practice mindfulness or meditation to relax and ease your mind.
While it is important to stay active to keep your joints from becoming too stiff, you also want to listen to your body and give it rest when it needs it. Don’t keep pushing yourself and overworking your body when you should be taking a break. It can take time to find the right balance and create healthier habits and routines.
Partnering with a senior care provider like Always Best Care can provide you with the level of support you need when you need as you adjust to life with arthritis. An in-home caregiver in Utah County can assist with daily tasks that are challenging when your joints are stiff, help you stay active but also enjoy some rest, and support you with meal planning and preparation. Contact Always Best Care to learn more about available services and schedule a free consultation.