Arthritis impacts nearly 60 million adults and while it's common among older adults, it is not a normal part of aging.
Any type of arthritis causes pain, stiffness and inflammation of the joints. These effects can make it difficult to move around or perform activities of daily living, such as showering and dressing. Severe arthritis even can contribute to falling.
Common Types of Arthritis
Over 100 different types of arthritis might affect an aging adult, with osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) being the two most common ones. Arthritis can affect a person’s quality of life and ability to live independently, so it pays to talk to your loved one’s healthcare provider about possible treatments to improve your relative’s health and wellbeing.
- Osteoarthritis – results from wear-and-tear on the joints.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis – an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks tissue in the joints, causing inflammation.
Arthritis-friendly Solutions for Cooking
- Foam handles and arthritis-friendly utensils.
- Sit while chopping and preparing foods to reduce fatigue.
- Use adaptive cutting boards to stabilize foods.
- Utilize a crockpot for easy one pot meals.
- Hire a home care company to assist with advanced meal preparation.
- For boiling foods, utilize portion control strainers that can be left in the pot while cooking and that drain water when the strainer is lifted.
Arthritis-friendly Solutions for Dressing and Grooming
- Install grab bars in shower, bathtub and around the toilet.
- Toilet seat risers can help reduce the effort needed to sit down and stand up.
- Automatic dispensers or pumps for grooming products help reduce the need to squeeze bottles.
- Seek out adaptive grooming products with special grips and handles.
- Button hooks can help with small buttons or Velcro can be used to replace buttons all together.
- Sock aids and long-handled shoehorns can help with footwear.
Arthritis-friendly Solutions for Recreation
- Card and game holders can help reduce fatigue while playing.
- Gripping tools on small items (ex: tennis ball on paint brush) can help maintain independence.
- Adaptive gardening tools can help make gardening more accessible.
Family caregivers play a vital role in helping aging loved ones cope with the effects of arthritis while aging in place safely. Coordinating medical care, encouraging physical activity and helping with household tasks can help aging adults live well at home despite the challenges of arthritis.