Arthritis is a common condition, especially in seniors. In fact, there’s a good chance you know someone who experiences it. Yet while many older individuals face pain, limited mobility, and other challenges related to arthritis, there is still much to be learned about this condition. To help raise awareness, Unicity Healthcare is joining the Arthritis Foundation and other healthcare organizations to recognize Arthritis Awareness Month this May. Here, we’ll take a closer look at this condition, its symptoms, and what you and your loved ones can do to minimize its effects.
What Is Arthritis?
Rather than a specific disease, arthritis refers to more than 100 types of disease and related conditions that cause joint pain. Common symptoms include swelling, pain, and stiffness in the joints that limit range of motion and make it difficult to move. Arthritis is common in older adults but can occur at any age and has numerous causes, including:
- Degeneration: Cartilage at the ends of our bones keeps them from rubbing together to allow smooth, pain-free motion. As we age, this cartilage wears away, eventually causing pain.
- Inflammation: Some conditions cause the immune system to attack the body, creating inflammation in the joints in an effort to remove infection. Over time, this inflammation may lead to erosion.
- Infection: When viruses or fungi invade a joint, they can cause infections that lead to arthritis. Antibiotics often help, but the problem may become chronic in some cases.
- Metabolic: This type of arthritis is caused by the buildup of uric acid in the joints, producing needle-like crystals that cause sharp pain as we move.
Facts about Arthritis
Those who haven’t experienced the pain and mobility issues caused by arthritis may underestimate the impact of this condition. However, arthritis remains the leading cause of disability among Americans, demanding greater awareness. In fact, arthritis affects 54 million people across the United States, which means that one in four adults experiences its symptoms.
This number is even higher for individuals living in rural communities, where nearly one in three adults is affected. Among those diagnosed with arthritis, half report limitations to daily life, including difficulty with common tasks like walking or bending. Additionally, people with arthritis are twice as likely to suffer injuries related to falls.
There’s no denying the severity of arthritis, but there’s good news as well. For many, increased physical activity can improve functioning and reduce pain by up to 40 percent. Since 2013, the National Recreation and Park Association has worked to create recreation plans in partnership with associated parks to encourage routine exercise for people living with arthritis. It’s recommended that adults with arthritis get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week or about 30 minutes of brisk walking five days each week. For those who cannot walk for 30 minutes, shorter 10-minute walks throughout the day also help.
Additionally, friends, family, and caregivers must be aware of the challenges facing older adults with arthritis. This could be as simple as asking how a loved one is feeling, suggesting you take a brief walk together, or working with a senior care manager to incorporate greater levels of physical activity into a senior’s care plan. When mobility limitations create dangerous living conditions, in-home caregiving can help seniors get around more easily and stay active while limiting the risk of falls.
Learn More with Unicity Healthcare
Arthritis Awareness Month is a great time to learn more about arthritis, how it affects the people in your life, and what can be done to support them. If you or a loved one need help managing arthritis care, contact Unicity Healthcare today. Our highly trained licensed aides and registered nurses can help create a customized plan of care that helps seniors with arthritis reduce pain, improve mobility, and get more active – and gives loved ones peace of mind.