Arthritis in Old Age: Tips to Maintain Mobility and Reduce Pain

By Dr. S.K.S. Marya in Orthopaedics & Joint Replacement

Jan 19 , 2024 | 2 min read

Arthritis is characterized by the inflammation of joints, leading to symptoms like pain, swelling, stiffness, and decreased mobility. While arthritis affects people of all ages, its prevalence tends to increase with age, making it a significant concern among older adults. There are various types of arthritis, but the two most prevalent forms are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis.

  • Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis among the elderly and can occur when the cartilage at the ends of bones wears down with time. As a result, the bones begin to rub against each other, causing pain and stiffness. Ageing, joint overuse or trauma, genetic factors, and obesity are common risk factors for osteoarthritis.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune condition, causes the immune system to accidentally attack the joints and leads to inflammation, pain, and joint damage. While rheumatoid arthritis may affect people of any age, its onset often occurs in middle age or later. Genetic factors, environmental triggers, and hormonal changes may contribute to its development.

Read more - Inflammatory Arthritis: Types, Causes and Diagnosis

Impact on the Elderly

Arthritis significantly impacts the overall health and well-being of elderly individuals. Some key aspects include:

  • Reduced mobility: Stiffness and joint pain can limit the range of motion, making daily activities more challenging for seniors.
  • Chronic pain: Arthritis often leads to persistent pain, affecting the quality of life and contributing to other health issues.
  • Risk of falls: Impaired balance and weakened joints increase the chances of falling and fractures among older adults with arthritis.
  • Comorbidities: Arthritis in older adults has been linked to a higher risk of developing other conditions like cardiovascular diseases and mental health disorders.
  • Functional limitations: Arthritis can impact the ability to perform basic tasks such as dressing, cooking, and bathing, leading to a decline in functional independence.

Read more - Myths & Facts about Arthritis

10 Tips for Seniors to Manage Arthritis

  1. Regular exercise: Consider low-impact exercises like swimming and walking to maintain joint flexibility and strengthen muscles.
  2. Maintaining a healthy weight: Excess weight strains joints, exacerbating arthritis symptoms. Adopting a balanced diet helps manage weight and reduce inflammation.
  3. Medication adherence: Taking medications as directed by doctors to control pain and inflammation effectively can be beneficial.
  4. Joint protection: Use assistive devices, such as canes or braces, to reduce stress on joints and improve stability.
  5. Adequate rest: Ensure proper rest and sleep to allow your body time to heal and rejuvenate.
  6. Heat and cold therapy: Apply heat packs to soothe stiff joints and cold packs to reduce inflammation. Consult with a doctor for guidance on the appropriate use of these therapies.
  7. Stay hydrated: Proper hydration is necessary for joint health. Water helps lubricate joints and supports overall well-being.
  8. Joint-friendly diet: Include foods rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and anti-inflammatory properties, such as fish, fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
  9. Manage stress: Practice stress-reducing activities like meditation or deep breathing to alleviate tension, which can exacerbate arthritis symptoms.
  10. Regular check-ups: Schedule regular appointments with healthcare professionals to monitor arthritis progression and adjust treatment plans accordingly.

Read more - Exercising and Its Benefits for Arthritis

Living with arthritis in old age presents challenges, but with proactive management strategies, seniors can maintain a fulfilling and active lifestyle. With a holistic approach that includes lifestyle modifications, exercise, and proper medical care, elderly individuals with arthritis mitigate complications and enhance their overall well-being. Empowering seniors with knowledge and support ensures that they can age gracefully while effectively managing the impact of arthritis on their daily lives.