Arthritis 101: What Family Caregivers Need to Know

By Robert D. Liken CPC, CTS, President

November 17, 2017

Has your elderly loved one been complaining of stiffness and pain in their back, hips, knees or feet? You might be surprised to learn that it could be arthritis. While most people think of arthritis in seniors as only appearing in the hands, arthritis can actually affect joints all over the body. If you are a new family caregiver or your aging relative was recently diagnosed with arthritic symptoms, you are going to need a crash course in the condition and insight into how you can help.

Caregiver in Monroeville PA: Arthritis 101
Caregiver in Monroeville PA: Arthritis 101

What is it?
Arthritis is not a single condition, but rather a term used to describe several kinds of joint disease. There are several different types of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis. The common symptoms include pain in the joints, swelling, redness, stiffness and low or no movement. These symptoms can be mild at first and then increase in severity. It’s important to manage the symptoms to keep your elderly relative as pain-free as possible.

What questions to ask their doctor?

When preparing for a visit to the doctor, you and your elderly relative should prepare to answer their questions about the condition, such as when the symptoms started, how activity makes it feel, where the pain is felt, any family history of arthritis, and information on current medications they are taking. The doctor will be able to get an accurate assessment so they can recommend treatment options.
Most doctors will advise elderly people with arthritis to take some kind of pain reliever. Many people are fine with over the counter drugs, while others may need something that only comes in a prescription. The doctor may also recommend topical creams with pain relievers in them to be applied to the affected area. It’s up to you to make sure your elderly relative has the medicines they need to keep arthritis pain under control.

Are there other treatments?

Other home remedies for arthritis pain can be effective. Many people find that regular physical activity and keeping a healthy weight makes a big difference in their pain levels. Less weight on joints means they don’t hurt as much. Physical activity keeps muscles strong and blood flowing to the joints, which can help with swelling and aching. Your elderly relative may not be completely motivated to get up and move, so you can provide that incentive they need to get going.
There are a number of other treatments that some seniors find helpful when dealing with arthritis pain. While they are not necessarily scientifically proven to work for everyone, it may be worth a try to see if they affect your elderly relative in a positive way. Some of the treatments include massages, acupuncture, vitamin supplements, chiropractic treatments, hot and cold packs and electrical stimulation. Of course, you and your aging loved one should consult with their doctor before beginning any kind of alternative treatment for arthritis.
Elderly care is not easy, and when your relative is in pain, it can be hard to bear. When you know as much as you can about arthritis and how to manage the pain, you’ll be doing your elderly relative a great service as their caregiver by helping them keep it manageable so it doesn’t interfere with their everyday life.

If you are considering hiring a caregiver in Monroeville, PA, please contact the friendly staff at Liken Home Care.
Call (412) 693-6820 or (855) 856-0551