Caring for a Loved One with Arthritis

Arthritis has become a common condition that affects one in six Canadians from the age of 15 and older, according to the Arthritis Society. In fact, arthritis is the leading cause of disability in Canada. Arthritis is a disease that causes joint inflammation and symptoms include pain, swelling, stiffness, and fatigue. This chronic pain affects daily life in so many ways as the disease progresses that it begins to affect mobility and motor skills. To care for a loved one with arthritis, it is important to understand the condition and its symptoms. Read on to learn more about caring for a loved one with arthritis and help make their life easier:

The Types of Arthritis

There are more than 100 conditions in the arthritis family, but there are two most common types: Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and Osteoarthritis (OA). Both can cause stiffness as a result of joint inflammation, but individually, rheumatoid is identified by swollen joints and damage, and osteo occurs when the cartilage that acts as a buffer between joints wears away and causes bone to rub against bone. OA is by far the most prevalent type of arthritis, affecting more than 3 million Canadians. Visit the Arthritis Society website to learn more about the disease and speak with your doctor.

Helping to Alleviate Pain

There is no cure for arthritis, and it is a progressive disease that gets worse without treatment and maintenance. However, there are ways to alleviate arthritis pain:

Exercise – The first step is through exercise. Strengthening the muscles that surround the joints throughout the body can help relieve the pressure that’s placed on them and the bones. But it’s also important that physical exercise is performed in a gentle manner that doesn’t place any more strain on the joints. Caregivers and physiotherapists can provide low-impact exercises that are better for arthritic patients.

Healthy Diet – In addition to staying active with gentle exercise, eating a healthy diet is also important to maintain a healthy body weight. The less body weighs, the less pressure it places on the joints throughout the body.

Here is a list of foods that are recommended to fight joint inflammation:

  • Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage – sulforaphane slows cartilage damage
  • Fatty fish – omega-3 fatty acids fight inflammation
  • Garlic – diallyl disulfide compound may limit cartilage-damaging enzymes
  • Tart cherries – curcumin could assist with inflammation
  • Vitamin C – antioxidants may slow progression of OA

The foods and drinks listed below are known to contribute to joint inflammation and should be avoided:

  • Red meat
  • Sugar and refined flour
  • Fried foods
  • Gluten
  • Alcohol
  • Processed foods

Medication – Of course, there are also medications that can provide relief as well for managing pain. Taking prescribed medication as recommended by a doctor is crucial. Nurse-managed care can help your loved one maintain the routines that are crucial for alleviating symptoms for a loved one when you are not able to throughout the day.

Enhance Accessibility Throughout the Home

It’s important to feel comfortable at home. And when someone has arthritis, it can quickly become a challenge. Some simple changes can make the home much more accessible and comfortable, such as having electric can openers and tools for opening items, and keeping scissors nearby for opening packages.

If you’re looking for guidance to help ease the suffering of your loved one, consider these tips. It can be challenging to understand and provide the level of care that they require for everyday tasks, but that’s where Qualicare Family Homecare can help. We can provide caregivers that can help aging parents with arthritis continue to maintain full, independent lifestyles in their homes. Contact us at 613.366.2899 to learn more.

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