Caring for Their Joints
Caring for someone who’s living with arthritis can present its own challenges to completing everyday tasks, however by working together and making sure that suitable support is in place there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy living independently. Caring for your joints will be one of the most fundamental parts of managing your condition, to avoid them sustaining further damage. The NHS recommends that thinking about how you carry out everyday tasks can reduce pressure and stress on your joints, for instance using “larger, stronger joints as levers.” This could include using a shoulder to open a heavy door rather than a hand, using both hands to carry shopping or utilising a backpack. Whatever works for you and means you put less stress on your joints will be beneficial.
Tips for the Home
Sitting down for long periods because you find it difficult or painful to get up from a chair is understandable, however sitting in one position for an extended amount of time can result in more stiffness and pain. Taking regular breaks from sitting in the same position is important, as is moving around and trying to exercise your joints. Even walking around your lounge or kitchen will make a difference, and you can coincide getting up with the need to undertake a task, such as making a cup of tea, or visiting the bathroom.
Having special equipment installed in your home can be necessary if you’re struggling with your mobility, but before you get to that point their can be other things you can do to move around your home more easily. Some people like using the back of furniture as reassurance when they’re moving around a room, but you need to ensure that it is safe to do so. Furniture on wheels or that moves when any force is applied is not a safe option and it’s important that anything you’re using as support is going to be sturdy enough to cope with it. Some people find that reducing the amount of furniture in a room is a practical solution as it means mobility equipment can be used more easily and asking family or friends if they can relocate items to another room that you use less may help.
Reducing clutter is a sensible thing to do in any circumstances, however for someone who is struggling with their mobility it can be essential. Having additional slip or trip hazards in a room could make you more anxious about moving around and will also make it harder to use equipment. Clearing things you no longer use does everyone good from time to time and can be beneficial for both physical and emotional wellbeing, so have a spring clean regardless of the time of year!
Helping Hands carers aren’t just there to assist with practical support such as personal care and medication, they can also assist you with housework and having a good sort out. If you would like to chat to your local branch team about how they could be helping you at home then you can find details of your closest branch here. The NHS also gives us some handy tips about making life easier around the home and keeping you as independent as possible, such as having handrails installed on the stairs, using a long handled ‘grabber’ to pick things up that are out of reach, having lever taps fitted that make them easier to operate, and using kitchen aids to open cans and bottles if you find gripping difficult.
While getting out into the garden or going for a walk is a great way to get some exercise and improve both your physical and mental health, not everyone is able to do so or has the confidence to venture out alone. There are however some great exercises that can be done in the comfort of a chair at home which may improve flexibility, although the NHS recommends that you take it slowly and keep some water handy as you proceed. It’s also advisable to have a word with your GP or community nurse before you embark on any kind of exercise programme too, especially if you haven’t been active for a while. Sitting exercises include stretching, hip marching, ankle flexing, arm raising, and others that may benefit people living with arthritis, and doing some regularly may make a difference to the flexibility of your joints.
Combining exercise with a balanced diet may help you to lose weight if appropriate, which will also have a positive outcome on the amount of work your joints have to do. Being overweight puts additional strain on joints that may already be working hard, which may contribute to a vicious cycle of not being able to exercise or prepare nutritious food, and the subsequent potential for a decrease in mental and physical health. The NHS recommends that “If you’re overweight, losing weight can really help you cope with arthritis. Too much weight places excess pressure on the joints in your hips, knees, ankles and feet, leading to increased pain and mobility problems.”
There are five food groups that a balanced diet needs to contain, (or substitutes made for specific dietary requirements) which are:
Milk and dairy
Fruit and vegetables
Starch – such as pasta, rice, bread, and potatoes
Meat, fish, beans, and eggs
Fat and sugar containing foods
The Eatwell Guide is a government initiative designed to advise people on the best ways to achieve a balanced diet. Recommended foods are shown on a ‘plate’ with the amount that should be consumed of each food group represented. As with any change of
lifestyle though it’s important to have a word with a healthcare professional about how you can make effective changes to your daily routine to best benefit your arthritis symptoms. For instance, being referred to a nutritionist or dietician may offer advice for what foods are most beneficial for someone living with arthritis – for instance, eating more oily fish and foods that contain omega-3 may be recommended.
To get all of the additional support you need with your arthritis symptoms and to keep you living as independently as possible in the home you love, why not have a chat with Helping Hands? Our carers can come to you at home offering both visiting and live-in care options and can support you with everything from getting out of bed, undertaking housework, personal care, and preparing nutritious food. They can also support you to fully enjoy the local community you may not have been able to access for a while, or the garden you really miss sitting in. Have a chat with our friendly customer care team any day of the week to learn more about how we support people living with arthritis in your area.