May is National Arthritis Awareness Month. According to the Arthritis Foundation, 50 million Americans are living with arthritis today, and almost half of those people are dealing with challenges to their daily activities.
Arthritis is a degenerative disease of the joints. It is actually not just one disease, but is a group of over 100 different conditions, all of which can cause pain, swelling and an interference with normal movement.
Arthritis is the most common disease in people over the age of 65, and approximately half of the population of that age has some form of the condition. Some types of arthritis are thought to be hereditary; some result from overuse or injury of a joint, or from years of “wear of tear”; some types are caused by infection; and still others are caused by a malfunction of the immune system. Arthritis may affect only one joint, or many joints at the same time. The joints most commonly affected are the weight-bearing joints, such as the hips and knees, and also the smaller joints of the hands and neck.
The two most common forms of arthritis in older adults are: osteoarthritis, which is caused by a breakdown of the cartilage and other tissues of the affected joint; and rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammation of the joint linings caused by a disorder in the immune system. Other forms of arthritis include gout, a condition caused by excess uric acid in the joints; ankylosing spondylitis, a chronic inflammatory disease which can result in rigidity of the spine; and psoriatic arthritis, which occurs in people with the skin condition psoriasis.
Although there is usually no cure for arthritis, the pain and inflammation can be reduced by a variety of medical treatments. If your loved one has arthritis, appropriate treatment can often result in great improvement to his or her condition, as well as preventing further damage.
Home Care Supports Independence and Well-Being
When a senior has painful arthritis, family members often worry that their loved one is not safe living at home. They wonder: is Mom taking her medications correctly, and following other treatment instructions? Is she getting as much exercise as the doctor recommends? Is she getting out less because of her reduced mobility? Family may also be juggling job tasks and other family responsibilities, spending more and more time taking their loved one to doctor’s appointments and helping with the housework and personal care.
A trained, professional caregiver can help your loved one manage their arthritis, thereby maintaining the highest degree possible of independence and well-being. This provides welcome peace of mind for the arthritis patient and family alike!
For More Information
The Arthritis Foundation (www.arthritis.org) offers information and resources for people with arthritis and family caregivers.
The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (www.niams.nih.gov) is one of the National Institutes of Health. Their website offers extensive consumer information about arthritis and related conditions.
Source: Assisting Hands Home Care in association with IlluminAge. Copyright © IlluminAge, 2014.