May is National Arthritis Awareness Month, a time when we recognize a condition that is the #1 cause of disability in America and affects more than 50 million adults and 300,000 children.
Rather than a single disease, arthritis is an informal way of referring to joint pain or joint disease. Common arthritis joint symptoms include swelling, pain, stiffness and decreased range of motion. Symptoms may come and go, and be mild, moderate or severe. They may stay about the same for years, but may progress or get worse over time.
Severe arthritis can result in chronic pain, inability to do daily activities and difficulty walking or climbing stairs. Arthritis can cause permanent joint changes. These changes may be visible, such as knobby finger joints, but often the damage can only be seen on an X-ray. Some types of arthritis also affect the heart, eyes, lungs, kidneys and skin as well as the joints.
Common types of arthritis include:
- Osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, where the cartilage – the slick, cushioning surface on the ends of bones – wears away and bone rubs against bone, causing pain, swelling and stiffness. Over time, joints can lose strength and pain may become chronic. Risk factors include excess weight, family history, age and previous injury (an anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, tear, for example). Maintain a healthy weight to help prevent Osteoarthritis.
- Inflammatory arthritis, where the immune system can go awry, mistakenly attacking the joints with uncontrolled inflammation, potentially causing joint erosion and possibly damaging internal organs, eyes and other parts of the body. Rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis are examples of inflammatory arthritis. Smoking is an example of an environmental risk factor that can trigger rheumatoid arthritis in people with certain genes. Early diagnosis and aggressive treatment is critical. Tip: Do not smoke.
- Infectious Arthritis, whereby a bacterium, virus or fungus enter the joint and trigger inflammation. This includes salmonella and shigella (food poisoning or contamination), chlamydia and gonorrhea (sexually transmitted diseases) and hepatitis C (a blood-to-blood infection, often through shared needles or transfusions). In many cases, timely treatment with antibiotics may clear the joint infection, but sometimes the arthritis becomes chronic.
- Metabolic Arthritis, where uric acid forms as the body breaks down purines, a substance found in human cells and in many foods. Some people have high levels of uric acid because they naturally produce more than is needed or the body can’t get rid of the uric acid quickly enough. In some people the uric acid builds up and forms needle-like crystals in the joint, resulting in sudden spikes of extreme joint pain, or a gout attack. Gout can come and go in episodes or, if uric acid levels aren’t reduced, can become chronic, causing ongoing pain and disability. Eating a healthful diet, low in sugar, alcohol and purines, will help prevent Metabolic Arthritis.
Treatment for arthritis can include medication (prescription, over-the-counter and natural therapies), diet, exercise and joint surgery.
Home care has become increasingly popular as an assisted living option, as more elderly people need assistance. Because of the latest medical breakthroughs, millions of adults are now finding themselves taking care of older relatives and parents. When do you decide to utilize home care versus doing it on your own? Read More
This is part three of a series that offers some helpful tips to avoid caregiver burnout when dealing with someone suffering with Alzheimer’s disease. Learning as much as possible about Alzheimer’s can help alleviate burnout and make life easier for you and the person afflicted with this disease. This part discusses realistic expectations and setting up a game plan. This is the final part of that series. Read More
If the person with Alzheimer’s is a member of your family, your immediate family is likely to be your primary source of support and relief. Siblings often trade off care duty and share financial obligations.
But there are tremendous emotional benefits to a united family, too. Decision making is much easier when families are in general agreement. You’ll also be less likely to feel guilty or isolated, second-guess yourself, or waste mental energy feeling resentful or unappreciated if you can all work toward consensus (or at least mutual respect). Read More
Most people simply dive in to the responsibility of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease and then take it one day at a time. That sounds like the best course of action right? Before you find yourself combating both his disease and your own emotional strain and battle fatigue, be sure you have these stress-busters on your side. If you don’t cover yourself first then your no help to him. Read More
When a senior has painful arthritis, family members often worry that their loved one is not safe living at home. They wonder, “is Mom taking her medications correctly, and following other treatment instructions? Is she getting as much exercise as the doctor recommends? Is she getting out less because of her reduced mobility?” Family may also be juggling job tasks and other family responsibilities, spending more and more time taking their loved one to doctor’s appointments and helping with the housework and personal care.
Home care services can help your loved one manage arthritis in several important ways: Read More
This post is not just for those with diabetes, however, more than 25% of adults age 65 years and older deal with diabetes. Individuals with type 1 diabetes control their blood sugar with insulin, while many of those with type 2 are able to manage through diet and exercise alone.
Even those who do not have diabetes benefit from regular eating to maintain alertness, energy and blood sugar levels. If a senior ever loses their appetite for an unexplained reason, alert their physician. “It’s important to alert doctors to medical conditions that have prevented eating for a day or more (such as illness)…the elderly, even without diabetes, are most vulnerable to developing hypoglycemia and other imbalances.”Cases of type 2 has shown a recent increase in nursing homes from 16 to 23% as “more people live longer and grow heavier.” Read More
A messy house is not necessarily a cause for concern. First, take into consideration underlying reasons. If the elder is recovering from illness or injury, they may not have the ability to keep up their normal routine due to pain. If it has been awhile since you’ve seen the elder—maybe they don’t keep their house the same as they did when you were younger. You need to assess if this is by choice or lack of ability. Drastic changes, especially, are the concern. For both of those issues housekeeping services will help. If the holidays are near there can be other factors such as depression of the loss of loved ones or the family’s inability to come together. Still, you can be sensitive to recognize warning signs during occasional visits. See other warning signs that care may be needed. Download our printable checklist to see if care might be needed.
One person needs durable medical equipment–another has an unused item gathering dust in a garage. Filling the need, bridging the gap…
Many people, due to illness, accident or the aging process, find themselves in need of hospital beds, lift chairs, scooters or other durable medical equipment, but are without the means to purchase them. People in this situation face a greatly reduced quality of life and/or ability to rehabilitate. Other people face the situation of wondering what to do with good durable medical equipment (DME) that they no longer need. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to bridge the gap between these two common situations? There is a way, and Lifestyle Home Medical Supply provides Read More
Category: Aging at Home
, durable medical equipment
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