How to help your loved one manage arthritis
If someone you love has been diagnosed with arthritis, you’re probably wondering how to offer support and help them manage this common condition. First, it’s important to know that there are many different types of arthritis. Some of the most common types include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, gout, and psoriatic arthritis.
Most forms of arthritis cause the protective cartilage in the joints to break down and deteriorate, resulting in pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of mobility. While arthritis is more common among seniors, it can affect people of all ages, especially if there is a family history. If your loved one has been diagnosed and you’re eager to understand how you can help them manage their arthritis, we’ve put together this helpful guide with our top tips.
Plan beneficial exercises together to manage arthritis
Whether you have arthritis or not, gentle exercises that work the joints and keep your circulation going are beneficial for everyone. Once your loved one receives their diagnosis, you can ask their primary care physician for recommended exercises that work the affected body parts, most commonly fingers, knees, ankles, shoulders, hips, and knees.
If your loved one has arthritis in their knees, for example, their doctor may recommend daily walks, swimming, or cycling. These are activities you can do with them while enjoying quality time together, and these exercises are great for your health, also!
Before embarking upon any new exercise routines together, please ensure your loved one’s physician has given the okay. People with arthritis need to be careful with exercise and movement, so following a doctor-prescribed plan is the best course of action.
Do yoga or other gentle stretches for arthritis
Millions of people practice yoga to relieve inflammation, joint pain, and other arthritis symptoms. While yoga can be intimidating for beginners, taking an entry-level class together is a great way to discover the many benefits. Check with your local senior center, gym, or YMCA and see what kind of beginner yoga classes are available.
If your loved one expresses some hesitancy or trepidation about attending a yoga class, there are plenty of gentle stretches you can do together in the comfort of your own home. All you’ll need is a soft yoga mat and enough space to get comfortable.
Ask your loved one’s physician to recommend some gentle stretching exercises for their arthritis, and make it something fun that you two do together on a daily basis. You may also find some physical therapy routines on YouTube you can do together. Having a positive attitude is half the battle, and your loved one will appreciate your participation and motivation.
Join them in hand movements to reduce joint pain
With arthritis, the hands are one of the most commonly affected areas. This can be very frustrating, given how often we use our hands every day. Older adults who enjoy gardening, knitting, playing an instrument, and cooking often find that arthritis limits their ability to continue doing the things they love.
If your loved one’s hands are affected by arthritis, ask their doctor for hand movements they can do to reduce joint pain. Encourage them by doing the hand movements with them, and use the time to check in with them about how they’re feeling, how their pain levels are, and any changes to their mobility.
In addition to the physical pain and limitations, arthritis can cause anxiety, frustration, and depression. Joint pain, inflammation, decreased mobility and stiffness can be hugely frustrating, especially for seniors who used to be very active and independent. By being active in their treatment and helping them manage their arthritis, you can make the process easier for your loved one.