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Arthritis in the Elderly

Arthritis in the elderly is painful, uncomfortable and can be debilitating.  It brings with it a decrease in mobility, which should not be underestimated.  Simple activities once taken for granted such as walking, shopping or even riding in a car can become difficult and challenging.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis among the elderly.  It is degenerative arthritis causing pain, swelling and stiffness.

Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage, the tissue that cushions the ends of the bones within the joints, breaks down and wears away.  In some cases, all of the cartilage may wear away, leaving bones that rub against each other.

 

Risk Factors

  • Normal part of ageing.
  • Excessive weight.
  • Family history.
  • Previous injury to a joint.
  • Improper alignment of joints.

 

Symptoms

  • Stiffness and mild pain that comes and goes to a joint.
  • Swelling and tenderness of a joint.
  • Stiffness after getting out of bed.
  • A crunching feeling or the sound of bone rubbing on bone.

 

Effects

Osteoarthritis most commonly affects the hands, lower back, neck and weight-bearing joints such as knees, hips and feet.

Women are more likely than men to develop osteoarthritis of the hands, especially after menopause, and it also seems to run in families.

Osteoarthritis of the hip may limit movement and bending, making dressing and putting on shoes difficult.

Getting in and out of chairs, as well as walking and climbing stairs, becomes challenging with knee osteoarthritis because of the stiffness, swelling and pain.

In some cases, arthritis-related changes in the spine can cause pressure on the nerves, resulting in weakness, tingling or numbness of the arms and legs.

 

Diagnosis.

If you suspect you may have arthritis visit your Doctor.  This will be confirmed through a physical examination, x-rays and laboratory tests.

 

Pain Relief

Whilst there are treatments such as anti-inflammatory medication available to help manage the pain of arthritis, there are no treatments that can cure the condition.  Other options to consider are:

  • Eat a healthy diet. Some foods such as tomatoes, leafy greens like spinach and nuts like almonds can help to keep inflammation at bay.
  • Low impact exercise such as water aerobics, yoga and tai chi.
  • Keep up to date with your medications.
  • Acupuncture and massage can provide temporary relief to stiff joints.
  • A hot bath or wheat pack on a painful joint can provide relief, as can ice packs if the joint is inflamed or swollen.
  • Maintain good posture when seated and keep moving.

 

Arthritis can and needs to be effectively managed.  Having a care plan will assist with a better quality of life that works for your particular lifestyle.  Arthritis definitely has it’s challenges but you can live well with this disease.  Many of our residents live with arthritis and we help them manage and accommodate this in our Lifestyle Program.  If you would like more details or to contact one of our homes please call us on (03) 9559 0400 or email us here.

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