13 Dec 2017

5 Ways to Help A Family Member with Osteoarthritis

5 Ways to Help A Family Member with Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis can be a painful and challenging condition to live with. If you have a family member with osteoarthritis, you can assist them with mobility, safety, care-giving, and emotional support. Start by understanding the condition, and read this article for the best ways you can support your family member, whether it’s your grandparent, parent, or someone else.

Understanding osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and it’s a chronic condition without a cure. Osteoarthritis refers to the wearing and tearing of your joints, when the cartilage between the ends of bones slowly breaks down. It can be related to age, injury, or excess weight from obesity. Osteoarthritis commonly occurs in weight-bearing parts of the body like knees, hips, feet, and spine, and it can progress slowly, over a matter of months or years.

Symptoms include pain during movement, deep and aching pain, a grating sound when your bones rub together, painful spurs or bumps, and stiffness. Swelling and movement restriction are also common. Everyday things like dressing yourself, brushing your teeth, grasping at things, and bending over can become a challenge, but a positive is osteoarthritis sufferers usually don’t have the fatigue associated with other types of arthritis.

Tips for supporting a family member with osteoarthritis

Despite its challenges, it is possible to live a rich, rewarding life even when you have osteoarthritis. As a family member, you can give your relative who has osteoarthritis support in a range of ways.

1. Emotional support and advocacy

Simply letting your family member know you’re there to support them can be reassuring and valuable. Acting as an advocate to support them in taking an active role in treatment and therapy can also lead to better quality-of-life outcomes for your family member.

Research the treatment and therapy options, and be proactive about talking to health professionals about your family member’s options, or encourage them to be proactive about working with health professionals. Encourage your family member to have a positive attitude towards their condition, and be in regular communication so they know they can always turn to you for help.

2. Create a safer environment

Whether it’s at home or when you’re going out, create a safer environment for your relative. With the progression of osteoarthritis, the risk of falling or some other injury could rise. Improve lighting in critical zones like stairways and hallways, and make sure lights switches are easy to reach. Alternatively you could install automatic sensor lights for your family member so these important areas are always brightly lit.

Remove things like loose carpets and electric cords, which can heighten the risk of tripping. Handrails in bathrooms and on stairways are essential, as is ensuring everyday items like kitchen supplies and bathroom items are easy to reach. Shower chairs, electric can openers, and keyless entry systems for the house are some other ideas to make your family member’s life easier.

3. Help with challenging tasks

Whether it’s a drive to the stores, changing the sheets, or preparing a meal, little things can make a big difference for family members with osteoarthritis. Offer your help and check in with your relative regularly. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with how much help your relative needs, involve other family members to contribute as well. A team-based approach means your relative will get the assistance they need to thrive and no one person will be overwhelmed.

4. Exercise and eating right

Regular exercise and eating right are important for weight loss or maintenance and relieving joint pressure. Swimming, walking, and bike riding are great low-impact options for people with osteoarthritis.

Make sure your family member’s diet has plenty of fruit and vegetables, and they’re getting enough omega-3 fats, whether it’s through fresh fish or fish oil supplements. Include foods high in vitamin C for optimal joint health, and avoid processed foods and foods cooked with high temperatures as these can encourage inflammation.

5. Therapies and self-care

Support your family member in exploring their management and self-care options. For example, massage could help relieve pain, as could osteoarthritis gels designed for cartilage stability. Help them understand any medications they’re taking, and encourage them to get in touch with communication support groups if available. Remind them of their self-care options, which include sleeping well, exercise and nutrition, and using hot and cold packs. Over-the-counter medications, where it’s approved by your relative’s doctor, could also be taken to relieve pain. Additionally, supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin could be helpful, but do check with the doctor first.

Assisting a family member who has osteoarthritis takes patience and time. Act as their advocate for treatment if necessary, and be ready to create a safer environment as you help out with more challenging daily tasks. Remind them to eat well and stay active, and encourage them to self-care and explore other therapy options. If you adopt a positive attitude, you can help your relative achieve a higher quality of life.

Flexiseq is a water-based gel designed to deliver joint lubrication for cartilage softness, compressibility and stability. To find out more about how Flexiseq can help those experiencing osteoarthritis, explore our website or contact us today.