Many people who become arthritic begin with RMD earlier in their lives. They may have had a thumb that ached a lot and didn't do the whole spectrum of movements normally associated with thumbs. They may have had achy joints or feet that didn't seem to work properly.
These things get worse as time goes on, and RMD tends to spread to other areas of the body, impacting on an older person's mobility, and therefore on their quality of life.
RMD has a big impact on many day-to-day activities that, as younger people, we tend to take for granted. However, there are lots of ways these daily activities can be helped with, and there's no need for anyone to suffer alone. Read on for tips about how you can help, and how you can access help for someone you love who has arthritis.
Arthritis can make it really hard for some people to wash and dress themselves. The decreased mobility means they may not be able to bend down and guarantee being able to get back up - as you can imagine, getting underwear on and off, as well as trousers and shoes can be a big issue.
Other problems of a potentially more embarrassing nature can also occur where the person cannot reach behind themselves far enough when using the lavatory, and cannot reach to wash themselves in intimate areas.
Your older relatives can access home care assistance for issues with personal care related to mobility. Although your relation may need only a small amount of assistance at this stage, it could still be worth it for them, to ensure their dignity remains intact.
Stairs are a huge hazard for someone whose mobility is compromised, and it's really important you realise when your elderly relative is struggling with stairs. RMDs make it difficult for someone to pick up their feet adequately to be able to climb stairs, and you can't be there all the time to help.
If you find you are helping a lot with mobility issues in general, you may be able to access moving and handling training that will show you the latest safe techniques for assisting someone.
However, an alternative is to get a stair lift to help your relation, or to ensure there is no need for them to use the stairs alone by getting them a commode they can easily reach.
Cooking and cleaning
Making food and cleaning the house are both activities that need a certain amount of dexterity. Older people with arthritis may still enjoy having a clean house and nice food, but the work involved may be just too much for them to handle now.
Your kids and yourself can do a nice job of cleaning house once a week, or you could take it in turns to cook dinner each day. Children who care for others for whatever reason, often grow into responsible adults with a lot of empathy and kindness for others, so involving the rest of your family can make every meal into a fun time for your elderly loved ones.
Alternatively, there are still some meals-on-wheels services around, and of course, home care assistants and care workers can be employed to cook and clean at least the kitchen and bathroom.
One of the most frustrating things about having arthritis in the hands and fingers is being unable to write with pens and to eat with standard utensils. The great news is there are many tools, utensils and pens that have been designed for less mobile fingers to use. These normally have a thick rubber grip which provides more surface area with which to hold the tool, and are a godsend for those in need.
Going out and about
You may have read on here before about how depression is linked to loneliness. Try as you might to make sure your relative gets your company more often, sometimes just seeing family isn't enough for more social birds. However, taking a walk in the early morning sun, or even visiting a hydrotherapy pool once a week, can be a real tonic and will give your relation a chance to meet new people and get their body working and moving around. Arthritis doesn't like to move around but the longer the body is able to move, the better for the person.
If your relative really can't get around for more than a couple of steps at a time, a wheelchair is a great option to ensure they get some sunshine vitamin D and a chance to chat to other people outside their home.
Again, home care assistants can help you help your loved ones in all the ways that are really useful. They can make toilet visits to ensure your parent can make it to the lavatory in time, and they can support them and sometimes even drive them to a day care centre or other social event that will improve their quality of life.
Home care and family aren't the only types of support available. Lots of charities also offer help and support for the day-to-day problems created by arthritis. We've listed a few below, and you shouldn't hesitate to call them if you want to know anything about RMDs or how you can make your relative's life a little easier.
Arthritis Care - England
Tel: 020 7380 6500
Arthritis Action UK
Tel: 020 3781 7120
National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society
Tel: 0800 298 7650
Please note: Sahan Cares has no affiliation to any of the above charities and we do not benefit in any way by listing this information on this post.