Osteoarthritis can be a disabling disease. It affects approximately 12.4 million people age 65 and older. It is caused by the degeneration of cartilage—the tissue that is found at the end of the bones and between the joints.
The symptoms of osteoarthritis vary from mild pain, swelling and stiffness to debilitating joint pain that limits mobility. It commonly affects the hands, feet, low back, neck, knees and hips. Bony nodules can occur in the joints of the fingers. Osteoarthritis of the knees can limit one’s ability to walk, go up or down stairs, or get in and out of chairs. Affected hips can produce pain in the groin and thigh and make bending difficult. Soon, performing the everyday activities of living such as dressing or putting on one’s shoes can become difficult.
Diet and exercise are the most effective means of limiting further joint damage. Maintaining the recommended weight ensures limited pressure is being applied to the affected joints. A good exercise for those suffering from osteoarthritis is water aerobics or swimming due to the buoyancy and reduced weight on the joints.
Their doctor may recommend treatments with an occupational therapist in order to help them adapt to physical limitations and help them determine alternative ways to accomplish the everyday tasks of living. A physical therapist can help reduce pain and stiffness with range-of-motion exercises as well as modalities such as heat and cold and ultrasound. Massage has also been shown to reduce pain and stiffness as well as stress levels. A good diet consists of a wealth of fresh fruits and vegetables and limits packaged and processed foods.
How to Help
As a family caregiver, you are on the front line as far as seeing your parent’s needs and addressing them. You can make a big difference in their life by incorporating the following:
- Attend your parent’s doctor visits in order to address any concerns and ask any pertinent questions.
- Attend your parent’s first few physical or occupational therapy sessions to get an idea of what activities and exercises they need to incorporate into their daily life at home.
- Create a safe home environment for them to limit falls and possible fractures. This includes removing any slipping or tripping hazards such as throw rugs and obstacles in common pathways. Make sure their home has adequate lighting and consider installing night lights in the bathroom and kitchen. Look for frequently used items and make sure that they are within easy reach.
Senior Care Provider
If your loved one needs help with the everyday activities of living, consider obtaining the services of a senior care provider. They can assist with daily tasks as well as prepare healthy meals, run errands and motivate your parent by providing companionship. They can accompany them on daily walks, and provide the needed transportation to their exercise class and therapy appointments.
If you have a loved one who could benefit from senior care in LaFayette, CA, contact the caregivers at A Better Living Home Care Agency. We help seniors and their families with many levels of home care. Call 925-566-2366 for more information.