Six best ways to manage arthritis: World Arthritis Day
NEARLY one in five Australians live with arthritis.
And most think it's a normal part of growing old - but there are ways of managing it.
World Arthritis Day on October 12 is an important time to be aware of and know the symptoms of arthritis to enable early diagnosis and prevent further damage.
A specialist in-home care provider, Home Instead Senior Care has developed a resource
entitled 'Caring & Arthritis: Practical advice for carers and people living with arthritis' to give us a more accurate idea of how arthritis impacts Australians.
The guide written was written with help from Arthritis Australia and explains what arthritis is, how it affects people, ways a carer can offer support, tips on improving communication and outlines additional support resources.
Sarah Warner, Co-Founder of Home Instead Senior Care told News Corp an increasing number of their clients have some form of arthritis, with many suffering a great deal from it.
"We encourage regular movement and gentle exercise to relieve the frustrations that come from pain and poor mobility," she said.
"Our top priority is helping seniors maintain their independence so they can focus on enjoying life as they age."
You can manage arthritis through the right combination of exercise, medications and lifestyle changes, according to the guide. The Caring & Arthritis resource explores methods in managing the condition and how a loved one or carer can assist.
Medications are a crucial element in managing arthritis as they help to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, suppress the immune system and minimise joint damage. Carers should encourage the person with arthritis to understand why they are taking the medicine, provide them with a reasonable expectation of how effective it will be, find out the possible side effects and keep a personal record of all medications consumed.
There is not a proven solution when it comes to diet and curing arthritis. However, having a balanced diet is the best way to maintain general health and wellbeing. Being overweight also leads to an increased amount of stress on the body's joints.
Doing regular exercise is essential to help manage arthritis. Regular exercise can help to reduce pain, maintain joint mobility, strengthen muscles and improve posture and balance. Carers should encourage the person with arthritis to discuss with a doctor and physiotherapist before starting an exercise regime. Exercise should happen on a daily basis, and it is advisable to move as frequently as possible. It may be tempting to be overprotective, but regular movement is an essential part of pain management.
4. Dealing with pain
There is a range of techniques to manage pain. This includes applying heat or cold packs, massage, acupuncture, relaxation techniques or distraction techniques (focusing attention on something other than the pain). Carers will learn to recognise the signs of pain and will know when they need to provide a bit more support.
5. Fighting fatigue
It is important to find ways to participate in daily activities while reducing pain, stress and fatigue. It is recommended for people to be educated about equipment that can make daily tasks easier and seek the advice of an Occupational Therapist. This is where a carer can step in and encourage seeking external advice.
6. Complementary therapies
There are a lot of non-medical treatments such as vitamin and mineral supplements and herbal medicines. However, many of these lack evidence to support their use and some even interact negatively with common medications. Carers can help by obtaining as much information on the complementary therapies as possible and advise the person with arthritis to discuss this with a GP or medical professional.
For a free copy of the resource, visit homeinstead.com.au/resources/caring-and-arthritis