Arthritis leaves the body’s joints inflamed and painful, and osteoporosis weakens the bones, both increasing the risk of disability. Both of these conditions are common among the aging and elderly, and they can both make life difficult and painful for a senior. If you’re caring for someone with arthritis or osteoporosis, here are three important things you should know.
1. Osteoporosis and arthritis leave seniors more susceptible to falls, which can be very dangerous. According to the Centers for Disease Control, (http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adultfalls.html) one-third of all U.S. seniors fall each year, and the National Council on Aging points out that falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of trauma-related hospital visits among seniors. It’s important to help prevent falls by assessing the home environment and removing hazards, such as broken or loose stairs, area rugs, and cords.
2. Exercise is crucial, even though it may be uncomfortable. Exercise increases strength and flexibility and reduces joint pain, according to the Mayo Clinic (http://www.mayoclinic.org/arthritis/art-20047971), which points out the importance of exercise for seniors suffering from arthritis. For those suffering from osteoporosis, exercise reduces the risk of bone fractures by strengthening the muscles and improving posture, balance, and flexibility, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation.(http://nof.org/articles/543)
3. A healthy diet can make a big difference. A diet rich in calcium and vitamin D can reduce the effects of osteoporosis, and fruits, vegetables, fish, and nuts can help reduce inflammation associated with arthritis. A healthy diet can also stave off fatigue and improve organ function for better overall health and pain tolerance.
Giving your aging loved one the support he or she needs to live as painlessly, independently, and productively as possible despite arthritis or osteoporosis is the best gift you can give, and learning all you can about these conditions will help you help your loved one in the best possible ways.