Help! My Aging Parent Has Arthritis

Posted: 1/24/2019 8:00 AM by Interim HealthCare
Inflammation of the joints, also known as arthritis, is extremely common in elderly adults. While it may start out with mild symptoms, arthritis is a progressive disease that eventually worsens. Without treatment, seniors face years of pain and stiffness that prevents them from doing even the smallest of tasks on their own. Fortunately, there are many things that family caregivers and home care providers can do to help aging adults manage this condition and stay active.

Arthritis Types (and How They Affect Seniors)

An arthritis diagnosis can have a major effect on whether elderly adults can continue to live independently in their homes. Because the condition impedes movement, many seniors find they can no longer perform basic self-care tasks. It becomes even harder to keep up with household chores. 

Arthritis can even impede driving, making it difficult to shop or see family and friends. More and more, seniors rely on family caregivers and home care providers to get through the day.

The two (2) most common forms of arthritis are rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. While each can have devastating physical effects, they are very different. Following is a quick breakdown of each:


With this form of arthritis, bones become less dense and seniors with this condition are more susceptible to fractures. In the U.S., more than 53 million are affecting with osteoarthritis or at a high risk due to low bone mass. 

Ultimately, osteoarthritis can impair the ability to walk and cause permanent disability. It can lead to loss of height, severe back pain and change in posture. 

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rhemuatoid arthritis typically affects the joints in the fingers, thumbs, wrists, elbows, shoulders, knees, feet and ankles. It is an autoimmune inflammatory disease where enzymes attack the lining of these joints, causing pain, swelling, stiffness, malformation and reduced movement and function. Rheumatoid arthritis can also lead to systemic issues like fatigue, fever, weight loss, eye inflammation, anemia, bumps under the skin or lung conditions.

Treating Arthritis and Managing Pain

Doctors are the best source of information on treatment options for each type of arthritis. Home care providers and family caregivers should help aging adults get to their regular doctor’s appointments for checkups concerning the arthritis. 

Doctors will usually prescribe some medications, from oral pain relievers to topical ointments. If affected elderly adults take medication as prescribed, they often find significant symptomatic relief.

Caregivers can support proper treatment and lifestyle changes to address arthritis.

Family caregivers and home care providers can also assist with arthritis treatment by encouraging seniors to make key lifestyle changes. Activity is essential, because it can reduce pain by warming up joints and muscles. 

Many seniors avoid activity because of the pain, which can make new or resumed activity a challenge. Occupational therapists, physical therapists and other professionals can work with afflicted aging adults to find relief through activity. 

Developing and implementing a plan of care is essential.

Through dedication to regular treatments, plus the support of home care providers and family caregivers, seniors with arthritis can continue living life to the fullest.

At Interim HealthCare, we are committed to helping caregivers provide the best possible quality of life for aging seniors. We encourage you to visit the Family Caregiver hub on our website for more resources to help you care for your loved one (and also take care of yourself!).