There are several options for arthritis care depending on the severity of the condition.
Arthritis affects 10 million plus people in the UK but the condition varies with each individual.
A mild form of arthritis can be managed with medical supervision and self care. Home care visits might also become useful if the condition progresses.
This article will explore what options are available for arthritis care.
Here’s a summary of what we will cover:
- 10 million + people in the UK are living with arthritis of some sort.
- Arthritis care options range from self-care to home care to residential care.
- As a condition, arthritis can often be managed effectively with one or a combination of care approaches.
- Mental and emotional help is available from arthritis charities and support groups.
What is arthritis?
Arthritis is a collection of conditions, all of which affect the joints in various ways.
The most common arthritis condition is osteoarthritis.
This is where the cartilage between joints wears away.
It can affect any joints, but is most common in the lower body – knees, hips and feet, as well as the hands.
At the later stage of cartilage loss, bones can grind against each other.
This can make movement extremely difficult and uncomfortable.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease whereby the immune system causes inflammation in the joints.
This inflammation can make joint movement very difficult, also sore and hot to the touch.
These periods of inflammation can come in waves, or flare ups every few weeks or on eating particular foods.
Flare ups can be extremely painful and uncomfortable and take some time to recover from.
There’s more here on other types of arthritis.
Is there a cure for arthritis?
There are many people in the UK experiencing arthritis.
After the age of 65, almost half of people will be affected by arthritis in some way.
While there is no cure for arthritis at present, it is a condition that can often be managed.
Management can be through medication, lifestyle choices, and therapeutic exercise or a combination of all three.
How can arthritis affect you?
Arthritis of any sort can be deeply impactful to a person, depending on the nature and severity of the condition.
A mild case might mean you feel discomfort in some activities.
For example, stiffness in the joints might occur after a night’s sleep, or sitting for a time.
Some might find participating in sporting activities causes joints to become uncomfortable
Different foods or activities may cause a flare up from time to time, or every few weeks.
You may feel achy, but find that painkillers and exercise can manage the symptoms quite well.
Impact of more severe arthritis
More severe arthritis symptoms may seriously curtail your physical activities.
A more severe case may be extremely and consistently painful, with little positive response to painkillers.
At this more extreme end of the spectrum, arthritis could seriously affect a person’s mobility.
Formerly easy daily tasks such as dressing or cooking could become difficult, painful or even impossible.
This could in turn affect the independence of the person with arthritis.
What arthritis care is available?
There are several options for arthritis care.
These range from self care for those experiencing mild symptoms, through to residential care for those who require more support.
A person with moderate arthritis may be able to remain independent and stay in their own home.
Arthritis home care coupled with some self care could prove useful in this case.
Arthritis care options
Let’s have a look at the different arthritis care options available.
For those experiencing mild arthritis symptoms, you should start by visiting your GP.
They will be able to refer you on to a specialist who will help you to manage the condition.
Managing the condition will try to slow it’s progression through drugs and lifestyle tips.
This is important as leaving arthritis unchecked can lead to both joint and bone damage.
The doctor and specialist will be able to prescribe you the appropriate medications or painkillers for your type of arthritis.
For example, people with rheumatoid arthritis might find anti-inflammatories very useful in managing their condition.
Exercise programmes for arthritis care
Your medical team will also guide you to find a suitable exercise program.
It is vital that you can safely exercise within your limits.
An exercise program has multiple benefits. The right exercise will help to manage aches and pains, and improve joint mobility.
Maintaining a healthy weight is also critical to easing pressure on the joints.
Creating muscle to support the affected joints is also critical for their healthy functioning.
Types of exercise for arthritis care
Low impact aerobics such as aqua aerobics might be a good choice of exercise to support your health.
Yoga or pilates are both considered excellent in improving or maintaining the range of movement in the joints.
Walking is always helpful for general health and weight management.
Strength training keeps supportive muscles strong, and takes the strain off the joints themselves.
Nutritional programmes for arthritis care
As part of your arthritis care, you might also think about asking a nutritionist to recommend arthritis friendly foods.
Fruits and vegetables contain lots of antioxidants which help in managing inflammation.
Plenty of omega-3s from oily fish or supplements are also recommended for those with arthritis.
The Mediterranean diet is generally recommended for arthritis care.
It is high in anti-inflammatory ingredients and omega-3s.
Plus, it is also low in processed food and sugar, both of which can aggravate inflammation.
Home care for arthritis
For those experiencing arthritis symptoms that can’t be managed entirely with painkillers and exercise, you may need some additional help.
If you want to stay in your own home, this support might come in the form of care at home.
Perhaps if daily tasks are becoming too taxing, tiring or painful to manage comfortably, then home care would be a suitable option.
Home arthritis care can be booked for regular, ongoing domestic help, or for short term flare ups.
Personalised arthritis care
Home care can be tailored to your individual needs.
Those with arthritis who feel particularly stiff or sore after sleeping might consider a ‘waking nights’ care service.
This is where a carer stays the night at your home.
Because they are there at night, they are on hand for any time you might need to get up.
As fall risk is considerably higher in the night than the daytime, this could give extra peace of mind.
What tasks can arthritis home care help with?
You will be able to choose the activities or chores you would like help with, such as:
- A morning call to aid getting up, or an evening call for bedtime prep
- Help with dressing and washing
- Hair care, barbering and makeup
- Assistance with exercises to aid mobility
- Medicine help – either collecting prescriptions, or helping with taking it at the right time and dose.
- Meal preparation and/or feeding assistance
- Help with pets such as walking or mucking out
- Cleaning, laundry and housework help
- Grocery shopping
- Helping you to get to and take part in your regular activities
Residential care for arthritis
For those experiencing severe arthritis symptoms, a move to a residential arthritis care home might be the right option.
In a residential care home there are carers on hand 24 hours a day, who will cook and serve all your meals and drinks.
Meals will be carefully planned to support your nutritional needs and accommodate likes and dislikes.
Carers will also be there to help with feeding or drinking if needed.
Social activities in a residential home
Within the home, there will also be plenty of social interaction and activities planned, which is perfect for people who have begun to feel isolated.
Perhaps individuals can’t get out and about as much because of arthritis and decreased mobility. So having activities within the home is much more suitable.
Additional benefits of residential care
Personal care can be tricky for those with advanced arthritis.
In a residential home there is always support on hand with washing and dressing.
Plus, there are often provisions made for hairdressing, barbering, makeup and so on.
The carers will always be on hand to pick up your arthritis care medications.
Also, they will help administer medicine so you never forget a dose.
In addition, mobility needs can be supported in a residential care home very well.
There may be a physiotherapist or trained carer available to help with mobility exercises.
You may also be able to book a visiting physiotherapist or personal trainer for additional exercise.
Choosing arthritis care that is right for you
Arthritis impacts each person’s daily life in different ways, and it is important that you find the right type of arthritis care for you.
Always seek advice from a medical professional before you begin any type of self care programme.
And remember to periodically assess whether you are experiencing the benefits that you seek out to achieve.