According to the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis affects more than 50 million Americans, with two-thirds of those sufferers age 65 or older. Even though arthritis is generally thought of simply as the aches and pains that come with aging, it’s actually a part of a family of musculoskeletal disorders consisting of over 100 conditions or diseases. Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States, and it can affect those of all ages, genders and races.
Assisted living facilities are well-equipped to help their residents with proper arthritis treatment. The knowledgeable staff members understand the debilitating effects arthritis can have on a person, so many of the communities have special exercise programs, meal plans and other activities to help with arthritis pain relief. Their goal is to ensure that they are reducing the chronic pain those suffering from arthritis feel, as well as improve their overall health and quality of life.
The two common forms of arthritis affecting older individuals are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is actually the most common form of arthritis, affecting around 27 million Americans. Symptoms generally develop slowly over time, with stiff joints and soreness that are more annoying at first than debilitating. People with OA will have sore or stiff joints especially after periods of inactivity. This stiffness can go away once they begin moving again. They also tend to feel more pain at the end of the day or after a bout of activity. Those with severe OA will have trouble climbing stairs, sleeping, walking or performing daily activities.
Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is an autoimmune disease in which your body’s immune system begins attacking your joints instead of attacking foreign substances like bacteria. This disease affects three times more women than men out of the 1.5 million sufferers in the United States. It can start to appear between ages 30 and 60, but generally shows up later in life. Symptoms of RA vary from person to person and can change daily. A “flare” or sudden increase in symptoms can last a day or as long as a month and include swollen, reddish joints, pain and fatigue.
Proper Treatment for Arthritis
Seniors with arthritis can thrive in assisted living facilities. A major emphasis in these senior living communities is placed on proper nutrition and maintaining daily physical activity. Events are generally planned that tailor to the needs of the residents, especially those living with certain conditions like arthritis.
Many seniors might think that because they are living with arthritis, they can’t maintain the level of physical activity that they should. However, daily exercise is a vital tool in the fight against arthritis. Not only is it important to maintain a healthy weight to ease pressure on joints, but a lack of exercise can actually lead to more pain as the joints become weaker and stiffer. There are plenty of exercises that are helpful to arthritis sufferers, from walking, swimming, yoga, and more. American Senior Communities offers a unique fitness program for seniors through our New Energy Wellness program, which will cater to the fitness needs of the individual.
Other treatments for arthritis include maintaining a proper diet high in nutrients, protein and fiber. Avoiding excess sugar, salt and saturated fats is important to help maintain a healthy weight. Certain prescription and over the counter medications are also available, and new treatments are being continually researched.
For more information about American Senior Communities New Energy Wellness program, please visit www.asccare.com/new.