Caring for Seniors with Arthritis

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Advice for families and caregivers

Arthritis means joint inflammation and refers to over 100 different diseases of the joints. These diseases are chronic and cause swelling and sometimes pain and heat in the joints, resulting in reduced mobility. More than 50 percent of seniors 65 and older have one specific form of arthritis, osteoarthritis, in at least one joint.

One frequently asked question is this:

What can I suggest that will help my parent who has arthritis to feel better?

Here are some thoughts:

  • Some people find relief in applying either heat or cold, or both, sequentially. Your parent can try to see if either heat or cold, or both, helps.
  • Heat can be applied with a warm pack, a warm bath, Jacuzzi or whirlpool, electric heating pad or blanket, warm lamp, or hydrocollator pack, all of which help relax the muscles.
  • Other ways of making things warm and soothing are to use flannel sheets, heat up clothes in the dryer for a minute or two before putting them on, or use hot water bottles on the sore areas.
  • For people who have morning stiffness, using a heating pad before they get up can help. Or they can take a warm shower when they first get out of bed.
  • Cold, which helps numb the painful area, can be applied with an ice pack. It can be helpful for especially painful and swollen joints.
  • Apply either heat or cold for only 15 minutes at a time.

May is National Arthritis Awareness Month. What are other ways that caregivers can support an aging parent who is suffering from the disease? There are 12 other questions and answers in this article from