One out of every five Americans suffers from arthritis, with the CDC anticipating a spike to 67 million affected by 2030. Senior citizens are most at risk, with arthritis being the most common chronic disease for those over 55 and the leading cause of disability.
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a broad term, covering more than 100 different variations of the musculoskeletal condition. Typified by swollen and aching joints, arthritis can develop in any of the body’s 143 joints; though generally arthritis attacks the knees, hips, hands and spine. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, and the type that most affects the elderly.
Health Risks of Arthritis
Involving much more than just the pain that has to be endured daily, arthritis also involves a variety of complications and risks to one’s overall health. Proven to be a condition with a high co-morbidity with heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity, arthritis is often a symptom of serious ill health.
For seniors, especially those who already struggle with mobility, arthritis can make movement increasingly painful, difficult, and dangerous. Limited mobility and physical activity can lead to rapidly decreasing health, increased dependence on others, depression, and anxiety.
Tips on How to Treat Arthritis
1. Get Moving – the most effective treatment for arthritis is exercise. Keeping the body flexible and healthy and the joints in continual, non-stressful motion helps decrease the symptoms of arthritis. Exercise is the key to keeping the elderly physically able, active, and emotionally steady. Consult with your rheumatologist about which exercises are the safest and most effective.
2. Healthy Eating – a balanced and healthy diet will do more than help keep the arthritis-causing weight off your body - it will also affect the health of your joints. Specific foods like red meat, dairy products, sugar, refined flour, and gluten can cause arthritis to flare up and worsen, while foods like fatty fish, olive oil, Brazil nuts, green tea, and berries can all help decrease the pain and discomfort of arthritis.
3. Supplements – the supplements glucosamine and fish oil can be very helpful for those suffering with arthritis. Fish oil, which can be taken in tablet form, helps decrease inflammation and swelling in the joints. Glucosamine stimulates the production of proteins in joint cartilage. Using these two supplements can ease the pain and decrease the extent of your arthritis.
4. Decrease Stress – high stress levels can be a trigger for arthritis flare-ups. The pace of our modern world has made stress and anxiety an incredibly common problem faced by the majority of the population. Decrease your stress though healthy activities like yoga, breathing exercises, seeing a therapist, and simplifying the distractions in your life.