In later life, many people may find that they have some form of arthritis in their joints, which makes straightforward movements somewhat painful. This discomfort can affect dexterity, sitting, standing and mobility.
Managing arthritis is paramount to quality of life and to maintaining a comfortable level of continued independence.
Whilst ageing might have, in the not too distant past, affected quality of life quite severely, technology and equipment available in today's world allows us to limit the effect of ageing on everyday life.
Arthritis is a condition which many people will experience in their later years. It presents itself as tenderness, stiffness and swelling in one or more of the joints.
Arthritis occurs when the body's immune system attacks the soft tissue (synovium) in the joints, which then leads to pain and restricted movements around the affected joint.
Stiffness can occur after heavy work or strenuous exercise but can also be as a result of prolonged sitting.
Arthritis pain can feel like a burning sensation but also like a dull ache.
The most common types of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis can begin at a very early age (in children) but is more often diagnosed between the ages of thirty and sixty.
Cartilage is a form of padding between joints, which stops bones rubbing together and osteoarthritis begins when this tissue becomes ragged or starts to wear away.
Osteoarthritis is one of the most common causes of physical disability in the elderly.
Before the age of forty five, more men develop osteoarthritis than women though, in later years, it is women who are more likely to develop this form of arthritis than men.
Regular exercise is a way of keeping the muscles strong around the joints, by keeping the pressure off the bones and / or the joint. Regular exercise can also help reduce fatigue.
Arthritis can be slowed down, or managed, not only by exercise but also by:-
Weakened grip can make people feel unsafe on their feet, as they no longer have that safeguard of holding sturdily on to chairs, tables, or worktops, when walking.
Life is quite often lived in the kitchen and so managing once easy tasks has been well covered with appropriate aids:-
Weakened grip can lead to loss of confidence in carrying out everyday tasks, so finding the right aid addresses the need.
Our height can dictate the right seat height for us, as the length of our legs will determine the best seat pad height which will support our upper legs along their whole length.
The correct depth of seat pad will support our upper legs right along to the knee joint, allowing the lower leg to bend appropriately at the knee and to comfortably meet the floor.
If a seat pad height is either too high or too low, it will make getting into a standing position much more difficult which, exacerbated by arthritis, could prove somewhat cumbersome and could lead to a fall.
Should the seat pad of your favourite chair be a little too high for you, a footstool can help shorten the distance for you between your foot and the floor.
When purchasing a footstool, buy a folding footstool, as it can be folded away when not in use and, when folded, it is easier to carry, as well as store.
Difficulty in standing from a chair can also be because of stiffness in the back, weakness in the legs and bad balance.
If arthritis is in the leg joints, the legs may prove too weak to take the individual's weight and a walking frame may be needed for moving independently around the house.
Walking frames take the weight off the legs and transfer it to the arms and shoulders.
A sturdy, metal, standing aid frame can fit against a chair, bed, car, or toilet. Its adjustable height makes it suitable for people of all heights to comfortably reach a stable standing position.
Leg pain could also suggest excess fluid in the leg veins, so always make your local GP the first port of call.
Getting the right seat height can be achieved in several ways:-
Walking and arthritis don't come together comfortably.
Walking frames can support the upright body when walking, or when simply standing.
Walking frames are available with or without wheels.
Walkers without wheels would command appropriate upper body strength, to regularly lift the frame forward, ready for the next step forward.
Without wheels, a walker may have three or four legs. In tight spaces, the three-legged walker offers more manoeuvrability.
Frames with wheels need less upper body strength, as the wheels propel the walker forward.
Frames with wheels can be used both indoors and outdoors, helping to maintain an adequate level of independence with most everyday tasks.
For outside use, the four wheel frame offers better stability than the three wheel frame, as it can move more easily over bumpy terrain.
Moving around the kitchen and walking in the garden can both benefit from appropriately located grab rails, just like climbing stairs is supported by the standard handrail.
Today's technology lessens the blow of arthritis on our everyday activities.
Remember that leg pain may also be as a result of excess fluid in the leg veins, so always make your local GP the first port of call.
Chair raisers and folding footstools are more economical ways of supporting comfortable sitting and standing. The cost of purchasing a riser recliner chair can be quite prohibitive.
When purchasing a walker, always test them out before deciding which one to purchase.
If you are suffering significant discomfort or find yourself unable to perform everyday activities, a local authority occupational therapist should be able to help.
They will advise on home adaptations or other other equipment or steps available to overcome practical problems.