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Rheumatoid Arthritis and the Elderly

Caregiver in Novato CA

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory autoimmune disease that attacks tissues lining the joints as well as organs such as the heart and lungs. It causes chronic swelling and pain and, in Caregiver-in-Novato-CAsome cases, deformity. Permanent damage to joints can occur within two years from the onset. An estimated 1.5 million Americans over the age of 18 have RA with 54 out of 100,000 people over the age of 85 diagnosed with it annually.

 

Risk and Symptoms

  • Smoking is the highest modifiable risk factor.
  • Symptoms other than painful and stiff joints that may, or may not, be present include a mild fever and fatigue.

 

Treatment

Though the disease is not curable at this time, advances have been made in the field of medicine. Currently there are anti-inflammatory and anti-rheumatic drugs available that can decrease inflammation and pain as well as slow down the progression and limit joint damage. Early detection is critical to successfully halting RAs progression.

 

A Family Caregiver’s Role

As a family caregiver, you play an important part in minimizing RAs affects upon your parent. On the other side of that coin, you cannot let yourself feel responsible for all the aches and pains your loved one might be enduring. If inflammation and pain seem to be on the rise, an appointment with their health care provider is in order.

  • Diet. There are many “arthritis friendly” foods that help reduce inflammation and pain associated with the disease. On the top of this list is fatty fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon is the best source for this important nutrient which can also be found to a lesser degree in walnuts.  Extra-virgin olive oil has been shown to reduce inflammation and pain. Berries are rich in antioxidants called anthocyanins which help lower the level of C-reactive protein, a substance produced by the liver in response to inflammation. Ginger is another powerhouse that has been found to reduce the pain of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Exercise. Exercise is crucial to both pain control and limiting damage to joints. It can be difficult to get out the walking shoes when your knees and feet are in pain. If that’s the case, consider exercises that take the weight off your joints such as swimming or water aerobics. Gentle exercise such as yoga designed for seniors and tai chi also help minimize pressure on joints while improving muscle function and reducing pain and stiffness.
  • Topicals. Over-the counter topical treatments that can help relieve pain and stiffness include those containing capsaicin, salicylates and menthol.

If you or an aging loved one are considering caregiver services in Novato, CA, call At Your Service Home Care.  Call today! Sonoma County: (707) 238-5700 or Marin County: (415) 942-8955