Nearly one-quarter of adults living in America have arthritis. Global RA Network reported that over 350 million people have the condition around the world in 2021. The Arthritis & Rheumatology journal predicts that 78 million adults in the U.S. will have it by 2040.
Arthritis is one of the most common conditions associated with old age. It refers to swelling and tenderness in joints.
There are two common types of arthritis, including rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis happens when cartilage breaks down. Cartilage is a tissue that grows on the ends of bones at the joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the immune system attacks the joints. This process usually beings in the lining. Both conditions lead to pain, stiffness, and discomfort.
Arthritis can appear at any age due to several causes. Some younger people can develop it after an illness or injury. However, it is most common among adults who are 65 years of age or older. The onset of osteoarthritis usually happens after age 40 while rheumatoid arthritis can begin at any age.
Along with discomfort, arthritis can also impact a senior’s ability to remain independent. A loss of mobility makes it difficult or impossible to complete tasks of daily living. Many seniors with arthritis also develop depression, which further affects their quality of life.
The disease is physical, but it can have a mental and emotional impact.
Many seniors find some relief by moving into an assisted living community. These facilities are designed for people with limited mobility and other health concerns. Staff are on hand to handle chores and tasks of daily living. How can an assisted living community improve the life of an elderly adult with arthritis?
Relieve the Burdens of Daily Life
Seniors who live on their own usually have more tasks that they have to complete to keep their living space clean and themselves healthy. That includes things like house cleaning, lawn care, and cooking. These tasks can become unbearable and unmanageable for someone who has advanced arthritis.
Family members may be able to ease some of the burden, but this can become a difficult balancing act. Loved ones must continue to keep up with their own responsibilities while also taking on the extra workload. And most people are not trained medical professionals. They may not understand how to best provide care and treatment for a senior who is suffering from arthritis.
An assisted living community has staff on hand to handle the tasks that residents can’t or shouldn’t do. They also understand how to help people with arthritis stay as comfortable as possible.
It’s a relief for the senior and their loved ones, who no longer have to worry about who’s turn it is to take care of mom, dad, grandma, or grandpa.
Provide a Nutrient-Rich Diet Plan
A healthy body starts with a healthy diet. Assisted living communities provide meal plans that are based on the needs of seniors. Most will also provide a custom menu for people with dietary needs.
Studies have found that a diet that’s rich in carotenoids can lower inflammation. Several foods are also ideal for helping to ease arthritis pain, including nuts, berries, garlic, fatty fish, and leafy greens.
Food won’t get rid of the problem, but it can help reduce pain and improve a person’s quality of life. An assisted living community can provide a well-rounded menu that includes nutritious foods that help combat the effects of arthritis.
Manage Medications for Arthritis Relief
Medication management services available at an assisted living community can help seniors stay on track. Many older adults struggle with taking the right doses at the right times. Missing medication can lead to pain.
Staff can even assist with over-the-counter medication to ensure that residents take the amount they need at safe intervals. This is helpful for arthritis and any other medical condition that requires ongoing medication.
Organize Fitness Classes to Improve Health
People with arthritis need to monitor their physical condition. Improving strength and flexibility helps seniors retain as much independence as possible. It can also help decrease joint pain and fatigue.
Regular exercise can have a positive effect on arthritis. Bodyweight also plays a role. People who are overweight are more likely to develop arthritis compared to those who maintain a healthy weight.
Assisted living communities host fitness classes and workout groups that encourage seniors to say active and fit. Everything is available on-site, so no transportation is required. It is a great way to proactively improve your health and reduce arthritis symptoms.
Provide Access to Physical and Occupational Therapy
Physical and occupational therapies can help people with arthritis. Physical therapy teaches seniors how to work out joint stiffness without causing damage. Patients can improve their ability to straighten or bend a joint with the help of a physical therapist.
Occupational therapy teaches seniors how to manage arthritis. They learn how to use joints without straining. Therapists can also explain how to use splints to provide support or recommend gadgets that can make life easier.
Assisted living communities can get residents in touch with the medical service providers they need. If it isn’t available on-site, most offer transportation to get seniors to therapy appointments to manage their arthritis.
Ongoing Monitoring to Watch for Changes
Arthritis is a progressive disorder. What that looks like will vary from one person to another. The progression may happen fast for some but much slower for others.
Staff at an assisted living community monitor each resident’s health status to look for changes. They can let residents and their families know if they see red flags that indicate that a doctor’s appointment or lifestyle change is needed.
Staying on top of health changes will help seniors live as comfortably and independently as they can.
If you have questions about life in assisted living, let us know. Contact Woodhaven Retirement Community to find out how we help residents cope with arthritis.