Living with Arthritis

One of the common health concerns as we age is maintaining strength and dexterity. It may get a little harder to twist open a bottle top, button a shirt, or turn faucets and light switches on and off. The problem is even worse for frail adults who have several impairments or who have arthritis or other diseases that sap bone and muscle strength. Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States. Fifty percent of adults age 65 and older have a form of arthritis.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis is a complex family of musculoskeletal disorders consisting of more than 100 different diseases or conditions that can affect people of all ages, races and genders. Osteoarthritis (OA), the most common form of arthritis, is a progressive degenerative joint disease characterized by the breakdown of joint cartilage associated with risk factors, such as obesity, history of joint injury and age. Symptoms include stiffness, joint pain, redness, tenderness, deformity of joints of the body, pain, and swelling.  For people living with arthritis, here are tips to reduce pain and make everyday life easier.

Tips To Reduce The Pain of Arthritis

Heat: Whether it is a warm bath, heat pad or a hot towel. Heat will increase blood flow to the area of discomfort.

Cold: To decrease inflammation it is effective to used a cold pack. A cold pack will constrict blood vessels and to reduce swelling.

Exercise: One of the best ways to relieve the pain of Arthritis is to exercise. Exercise reduces swelling and decreases pain. For an individual who is overweight and has arthritis, a good way to reduce joint pain is to exercise to lose excess weight to take stress of the joint. Intensive exercises is not recommended but using machines that are easy on the joints such as an elliptical or stationary bike are good ways to exercise.  

Low-impact exercises recommended by the Arthritis Foundation include walking, Tai Chi, and aquatics. The Arthritis Foundation also sponsors free community classes such as the class pictured above.

For Your Home

Here’s what experts recommend for selecting products to meet your specific needs:

  • Select products with texture. For example, when selecting glassware, drinking glasses with bumpy exteriors are easier to grasp than glasses with smooth exteriors.
  • Seek products that require minimal upkeep.
  • Purchase lightweight products, especially when it comes to cleaning and kitchen tools. For example, heavy cast-iron pots or ceramic bowls may be difficult to use for someone with arthritis.
  • Look for products that are easy to open and close. Avoid products that are difficult to grasp, or require twisting with your fingers to open and close. Instead, look for features such as flip-top caps, zippers and larger, easy-to-open lids.
  • Avoid the bells and whistles. Look for products that are simple and practical, rather than fancy gadgets with intricate pieces.
  • Look for products that are not cumbersome to use. Products that can be carried close to your body may alleviate pressure on arms, hands and back.

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