Are you complaining about creaky joints, pain, and inflammation? Are you worried that your arthritis may get worse? Are your joint cricks affecting your ability to exercise, enjoy life, and feel at the top of your game? If daily living is tough because of joint pain and irritation, you may be noticing symptoms of arthritis in seniors. We are living in a busy world where staying active and flexible is considered essential. Yet, as we age, joint health can affect our ability to feel happy.
We’ve put together a Senior Assistance Club guide on arthritis in senior citizens to help you through this common health issue.
As we age, our joints change. Recent studies show that 23% of adults, or over 54 million people, have arthritis in the United States. About 1 in 4 adults with arthritis report severe joint pain, according to the CDC.
Arthritis is generally broken down into two main categories: osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
OA can be the result of wear and tear on the joint cartilage. This causes the bones to rub together, resulting in damage, friction, and inflammation.
RA can affect the immune system and trigger symptoms throughout the body. The immune system makes the mistake of attacking healthy joint tissue.
If you think you are experiencing arthritis in your senior years, talk with your doctor. He or she may be able to prescribe medications and lifestyle changes to relieve joint pain.
Arthritis is a surprisingly common condition, and it doesn’t just affect the young. In fact, arthritis in older adults is a very common issue. The pain and stiffness of arthritis can make it difficult to stay active, and that can lead to other health problems.
For example, if you don’t get enough exercise, you may start to lose muscle mass and bone density. That can make you even more susceptible to injuries. And, of course, the pain of arthritis can make it hard to get a good night’s sleep. All of these factors can have a serious impact on your quality of life.
Your joints are bearing the weight of your body. Do the math. Reducing your consumption of fatty and fried foods can help keep off the extra weight.
The American College of Rheumatology and Arthritis Foundation (ACR/AF) recommends losing weight if you have OA and are overweight or obese.
Talk with your doctor to make a plan for losing weight at a manageable rate.
Losing weight helps improve your mobility, decrease pain, and prevent additional damage to your joints.
That sounds like a smart idea, don’t you think?
It’s tempting to sit on the couch, but that’s how arthritis in older adults gets worse! Once there, it’s equally tempting to eat and drink for entertainment. Reducing sedentary time is key if you want to get enough exercise.
Now is the best time to reduce sedentary time on the couch – and get moving.
A diet rich in steak, burgers, and processed meats has a lot of saturated fat, salt, and preservatives that can aggravate inflammation. In addition, eating red meat can contribute to other health problems such as heart disease, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. None of these help your arthritis.
Numerous scientific studies confirm that added sugars lead to added problems, especially if you have arthritis. One large study of 200,000 women found that regular intake of sugar-sweetened soda was associated with an increased risk of RA.
Studies show that alcohol may worsen the symptoms of arthritis in senior citizens. Many studies show that regular alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of OA. You may want to reduce, restrict, or avoid alcohol—depending on your own experience.
Gluten has been linked to increased inflammation. Reducing gluten or going gluten-free may ease some arthritis symptoms in seniors.
How can you easily remember what foods contain gluten? Think of the acronym: ‘BROWS,’ which stands for Barley, Rye, Oats, Wheat, and Spelt. Reduce or steer clear of these and you’ll have a blueprint for going gluten-light.
Cutting back on salt is a wise move, especially for people with arthritis. Check the labels of foods and you may be in for a surprise. Many low-fat foods make up the difference with high sodium.
Check out the sodium levels by researching your favorite comfort foods. You can review the labels to determine salt levels in pizza, soup, cheeses, meats, and condiments.
Gentle exercise is a great way to encourage movement in your daily life. Walking, stretching, Tai-Chi, and Yoga are gentle forms of moving that can all help reduce the symptoms of arthritis in seniors.
There’s scientific evidence that eating a plant-based diet provides antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation. Fresh fruits and vegetables help to reduce inflammation by eliminating free radicals.
Turmeric, also known as curcumin, may help reduce pain and inflammation. It is a mild spice, well-loved in Indian cuisine. This spice is respected for having anti-inflammatory properties.
Meditation and mindfulness practices are considered effective ways to manage arthritis. By lowering stress and boosting a sense of calm, many people find they can cope better.
The National Institute of Health identifies mindfulness meditation as being helpful for some people with RA. Numerous studies link meditation with the reduction in symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress – all of which may contribute to chronic pain.
Massage can provide a sense of calm, ease, and relaxation. Medical authorities do not specifically recommend it—yet many people swear by it.
Explore massage therapy to help manage pain, increase flexibility, and establish an overall feeling of well-being.
There are many arthritis relief products on the market, one of which is herbal supplements. Many people find herbal supplements help to reduce joint pain. Some of the most popular supplements include ginkgo, stinging nettle, Boswellia, bromelain, and devil’s claw.
Talk with your medical provider to avoid any side effects or drug interactions.
Many people use cold and heat treatments to relieve pain and inflammation.
Cold treatments can help relieve swelling, pain, and inflammation. Options range from wrapping a bag of frozen peas in a towel, to applying a gel ice pack.
Heat treatments may help reduce discomfort. Home-style remedies include an electric blanket, applying a heating pad, or taking a long warming shower.
Knowing the signs of arthritis and getting diagnosed early on is important to getting the right treatment you need. Arthritis can greatly change your way of life, so it’s important to know if you have it so you can incorporate better practices for your joints.
As joint inflammation and pain are real issues, consider how to support your health. With a little initiative, you can make healthy choices, and continue to enjoy an active lifestyle.