Six Ways to Cope with Arthritis

January 13, 2014
Home caregivers give support - but sometimes they need it, too.

Arthritis can be a challenge for many.

Many senior citizens (and quite a few younger ones) have to deal with the difficulties that come with arthritis. Properly caring for elderly individuals with arthritis includes learning strategies to cope with the condition.

Practical suggestions that can ease arthritis-related issues:

  1. Select outfits before you go to sleep. Many people with arthritis experience more pain and stiffness when they first get out of bed than they do later in the day. This can make assembling an outfit and getting dressed challenging. You can make things easier on yourself by making your wardrobe choices a day ahead of time and laying out your clothes in a logical, easy-to-get-to order before drifting off to sleep.
  2. Make allowances for dressing difficulties. It may be easier for a person with arthritis to put on loose-fitting clothing than to put on snug items. Realize that buttons and snaps may be more trouble than they are worth and opt instead for zippers and Velcro when possible. If buttons are unavoidable, see whether a button-hook makes matters more manageable.
  3. Plan for long car trips. Driving (or just sitting in a car) for long periods of time can increase stiffness. When planning a trip, allow extra time for breaks to get out of the car and move around a bit. Ideally, you want to take a break before you start feeling real pain, so you may need to adjust your schedule and break more often (though perhaps for shorter periods of time than originally planned). Ask yourself whether it’s more important to arrive at your destination on time or to arrive in good shape and free of pain. Also, make sure that you have plenty of water on your trips; dehydration increases arthritis pain.
  4. Use straws. Some days, getting a good grip on your favorite glass can be a challenge. Use straws with those beverages that are straw-friendly (e.g., iced tea- yes; hot coffee –no).
  5. Get help with medicine bottles. For those with arthritis, even caps that are not childproof can sometimes present a problem. There is a wide variety of bottle-cap openers out there; investigate and find the one that works the best for your particular situation.
  6. Add loops to your sheets and blankets. On a cold winter night, getting a good grip on a blanket or sheet that has fallen off can be a challenge. Sewing small loops along the edges can allow stiff fingers and hands to achieve the goal with less effort.

These are just a few of the many tips that can help a person with arthritis or someone taking care of elderly patients with arthritis. Take time to think of other simple things that can be done in your situation to help defeat the challenges associated with arthritis.


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Writer, Craig Butler

Craig Butler has been writing on a wide range of topics for more than fifteen years. As the National Communications Director for the Cooley's Anemia Foundation, Craig regularly writes on a range of health and medical topics. Among the many projects he has written for the Foundation is the Cooley's Anemia Storybook, a collection of original short stories for children with the blood disorder Cooley's Anemia. His freelance work has ranged from reviewing moves and CDs to creating entertainment-related stories about baldness, to creating text for comic strips. Craig looks forward to having a dialogue with you about senior care and issues of concern.

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