Each May, Arthritis Awareness Month is observed across the country to bring attention to the prevalence and impact of this chronic condition.
This year, with a focus on seniors, let’s take some time to understand why it’s so important for our elderly loved ones to receive early diagnosis and treatment for arthritis.
Understanding Arthritis in Seniors
Arthritis is an umbrella term that refers to more than 100 different conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system. It’s the most common cause of disability among individuals over the age of 65. As people age, their bodies become less able to repair cartilage and heal themselves from damage caused by arthritis. With advanced age often comes a decrease in range of motion, which can make it difficult for seniors to perform everyday tasks such as grocery shopping or walking up stairs without assistance. That’s why it's so important for seniors to get diagnosed and treated early on if they are experiencing any symptoms that could indicate arthritis.
What are the Symptoms?
Common symptoms of arthritis include pain or stiffness in the joints; swelling around one or more joints; redness in the joint area; decreased range of motion; warmth near a joint; fatigue; and fever. Be sure you watch for these signs and speak with your loved one’s doctor if you think he or she may have arthritis. Early diagnosis can be key in helping prevent further joint damage and improving quality of life in later years.
Once diagnosed with arthritis, there are many options available for treatment that help alleviate pain and maintain mobility like physical therapy, hot/cold therapy, exercises designed specifically for strengthening muscles supporting arthritic joints, use of assistive devices such as a cane or walker, medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), glucocorticoids (steroid hormones), disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), biologics drugs, and natural remedies such as turmeric supplements or Epsom salt baths. Depending on your specific situation, your doctor will work with you to determine which treatment option works best for you.
Arthritis affects millions of people all over the world every day—including thousands of seniors right here in our local community. During Arthritis Awareness Month this May, let's take some time to remember those who suffer from this condition—especially our elderly loved ones—by learning about its symptoms and treatments so we can better support them during this time. With early diagnosis and proper care management strategies, we can help ensure seniors suffering from arthritis have access to quality care that will improve their quality of life now and into the future!