Seniors Living With Arthritis
Is an elderly loved one suffering from nagging joint pain? A troublesome hip, shoulder, or fingers aren’t just indications of progressing age, they can also indicate the onset of arthritis. If this condition isn’t managed carefully, it can potentially lead to serious injury.
There is good news, though. The potential dangers of arthritis can be minimized through healthy behaviors and habits, as well as creating safer living spaces.
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is inflammation and stiffness in the joints, particularly in the arms and legs. It can occur at any time of life, but becomes more severe in seniors. Arthritis can cause infection, injury, or the wear and tear of an active life. There are two major types: Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Osteoarthritis occurs when there is a breakdown of cartilage in joints, causing bone-on-bone contact during movement. It is the most common type of arthritis and affects the entire joint.
Rheumatoid arthritis happens when the immune system attacks the lining of joints (synovial membrane). When the joint linings swell, it can cause damage to bone and cartilage.
Any form of arthritis poses a serious fall risk for seniors. The risk of falling is a main reason seniors need to leave their homes.
Arthritis management is a major part of fall prevention and decreasing potentially life-threatening injuries.
Keeping a Balance
In minimizing fall risks due to arthritis, here are some tips to follow:
- Over-the-counter painkillers may help your elderly loved one, but opioids should be avoided as they can lead to loss of coordination. Consult a doctor before any medication is taken.
- Make sure your loved one is getting plenty of exercise, which is the best way to maintain the condition of the joints and strengthen cartilage and muscle.
- Vitamin D may help to strengthen joints and cartilage as well, so consider adding this as a supplement.
- Limit your loved one’s use of high-heeled shoes or any footwear that can cause difficulty balancing.
Adapting a Safe Living Space for Seniors
You can minimize the risk of injury and inconvenience by arranging your loved one’s home in a suitable and safe way. Potential fall risks should be removed. Here are some helpful home safety recommendations:
- Remove hazards like loose wires, small rugs, or piles of belongings.
- Check for slippery surfaces, like kitchen tile or a bathtub.
- Install handrails, non-slip mats and grab bars in bathrooms.
- Make sure the home is well lit, particularly on stairs or other places where the floor changes.
Reaching things on high shelves, standing at a sink, or bending down to access drawers are all typical situations where arthritis symptoms emerge.
Here are some easy ways to start making a home more convenient:
- Change to smaller and lighter-weight containers for items like laundry detergent or foods.
- Purchase supply tools like grabber extensions to help reach high or low shelves.
- Provide chairs or stools for strenuous tasks such as washing dishes.
- Consider rearranging the home so everything needed is on one floor.
With proper exercise, diet, prescribed medication, and modifications inside the home, arthritis symptoms can be managed to a level that still permits independence.
Professional Assistance is Available
Professional in-home care services are available to help seniors struggling with daily activities due to arthritis. Senior Homecare by Angels provides a complimentary in-home assessment to identify potential vulnerabilities and provide recommendations for resolving them. Senior Homecare by Angels also offers a “Safe and Steady” Fall Prevention Program to teach seniors, families, and caregivers how to make the home a safer place and identify risk factors and warning signs before falls happen.
Have any questions about how to assist your elderly loved one or to learn more about our services, please don’t hesitate to call Senior Homecare by Angels at 403-862-0129 or if outside of Calgary, toll-free at 1-877-209-6142. You may also visit the Contact Us page to complete and submit a simple inquiry form.
Gerry Gatto is a trained health care administrator and the owner of Senior Homecare® By Angels a Calgary based company. Helping Calgary seniors remain in their homes and maintain their independence with the assistance of a dedicated caregiver.