Arthritis is a leading cause of disability for young and old folk alike and is often one of the many inevitable side effects of aging. Operating as an umbrella term for joint-related conditions, arthritis affects millions of people—disproportionately elderly folks.
Although a natural aging process, joint wear-and-tear often causes excessive amounts of pain and persistent aches, leaving afflicted elders with mobility complications and a newfound need for physical assistance. Common arthritis-related health complications include hip, knee, wrist, and hand pain and immobility.
This arthritis-related discomfort renders daily functions—like walking or eating—and menial tasks—like household cleaning and basic hygiene— tedious and exhausting. Additionally, independence is often lost, resulting in understandably frustrated elders who are left, sometimes helplessly, to deal with the physical and emotional side-effects of arthritis.
Give your loved ones the help they need by listening to their specific needs, offering assistance, and steering them in the direction of useful resources if you can’t provide them the hands-on care they require.
Coming to terms with your loved-ones declining health
Caretakers must apply due diligence in understanding when assisted living admittance is non-negotiable and necessary. Although difficult to accept, your loved one may need additional or more specialized treatment than you can provide.
Caring for a mobility-restricted elder can range from small, helpful tasks to round-the-clock, intensive caretaking. Sometimes, both parties’ best option is admittance to assisted-living facilities or use other care services. Relinquishing care and control can ensure your loved one gets the professional, specialized care they deserve.
Step into your loved-ones shoes
Often, family, friends, and even caregivers lack a firm grasp on the harsh realities of age-induced arthritis. Spend time asking questions, listening earnestly, and stepping into your loved one’s shoes to better understand the physical and often overlooked emotional effects of the disability.
Arthritis causes daily, painful health complications, encompassing full-body stiffness, bouts of fatigue, prolonged pains, and appetite loss, resulting in an inability to perform seemingly simple daily tasks. A senior’s deteriorating sense of independence can be extremely frustrating and disheartening for the newly-disabled. The aftermath of this drastic, physical lifestyle change can generate emotional irregularities, like bursts of anger or prolonged periods of depression for your elderly loved-ones, making empathy and unconditional love an effective form of treatment.
Attending to unavoidable emotional hurdles
Elders experiencing mental and physical effects of arthritis-induced complications often strap into a rollercoaster of emotions as their health declines. However, caretakers may also feel heightened levels of emotional distress as they navigate unpredictable outbursts and prolonged periods of physical pain.
Caretaking is often overwhelming and can be stressful when you lack resources or personal mental and physical stamina. Your physical and emotional health is not only of equal importance as your elderly loved-one, it also equips you with the necessary tools and resources to adequately care for their specific needs. Asking for help, scheduling in non-negotiable self-care periods, and regulating your own emotions are all important aspects of caretaking and are necessary, helpful tools for minimizing depressive periods, stress-induced anxiety, and exhaustion.
Understanding their physical challenges
Understanding the physical challenges that your loved one faces is crucial to helping them treat pain and better navigate their newly-restrictive lifestyle. Because mobility can range from limited to non-existent, there are a wide variety of approaches to arthritis care.
Implementing daily stretching routines can offer relief to patients. Performing exercises that preserve joint agility and taking routine medications can assist with pain management. Additionally, installing mobility aids—like stairlifts and handrails—offer elderly folk more control, subsequently taking pressure off of you as their caretaker.
Living with the physical and emotional effects of arthritis-induced pains and aches and assuming the caretaker role can be equally challenging. However, understanding signs of decline, empathizing with your loved-ones pain and frustration, and recognizing your own limitations will aid both of you through this difficult stage in life.