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Understanding the condition called arthritis

Caring for an elderly relative is not easy. It is however made easier because it is a labour of love. At Vermont Aged Care we see this demonstrated on a daily basis. For example by the families who come to visit their loved ones, whom they have placed in our care. If however you are caring for a loved one at home, the task may be more difficult for you when they have a condition such as arthritis.

We would like to offer you some helpful tips on caring for an elderly relative with arthritis.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a joint condition with the added complication of inflammation causing joint pain. Therefore, if you have not already done so, a visit to the doctor is a good place to start. There you will discover what type of arthritis your elderly relative is suffering from. For instance, that can be osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or gout. An accurate diagnosis will be vital, for instance in the choice of medications. It will also prove important later on when choosing an exercise program for them. Furthermore, different types of diet will help in eliminating inflammation and uric acid deposits in the joints. The more you learn about their particular condition the more you will be able to help your loved one.

Eating the right foods and getting the right hydration

We all know that this applies to all humans don’t we? But we have our likes and dislikes. So we bend the rules! Until we don’t feel so well any more and then we have to take swift action. Unfortunately as we get older bending the rules is costlier. And in the case of painful disorders such as arthritis, particularly in an elderly person, it’s time to get serious.

Once again, we recommend that you enlist the help of a professional. Nutritionists are qualified to examine your elderly relative. They will take into consideration their age, weight and physical condition before recommending an eating plan. This eating plan will take all the guesswork out of shopping, stocking and meal planning. Both you and your loved one will be spared the burden of daily anxiety and planning what they should eat and drink. For example, you will discover what the foods and beverages are that cause inflammation. Consequently it will be easy to avoid them. You will also learn all of the beneficial foods and drinks. Furthermore, being overweight exacerbates arthritis by placing extra pressure on the joints. So the right diet is really important.


When you are caring for an elderly relative with arthritis, it can be difficult to get them to exercise. This is understandable because the exercise causes them pain. However, exercise is an essential part of their treatment. That’s because the most important thing to avoid is stiffness. Of course, stiffness is often caused by inactivity! Moreover, loss of muscle function can result  in weakness and frailty. That adds an increased danger of falls. And if the muscles are not strong they cannot support the joints. However, exercises can and should be gentle. How about joining in with them? Try putting some music on, this will relax them and help them to forget the discomfort. Physical therapists can suggest the appropriate exercises for your loved one because of course it will be tempered to their specific condition. In some localities group exercise sessions are organised in nearby parks. Once again, the warmth and support of other people who understand will help make the exercises more fun.

The practicalities of daily life with arthritis

It’s not nice having arthritis. Plus, add to that the general difficulties associated with getting older! Don’t worry though. Here are some things that can make life easier and happier for the patient. For example:

  • using scissors to open packages
  • Replacing old-fashioned can openers with wall-mounted electric ones
  • There are useful rubber gadgets for opening jars and giving added grip
  • Rubber mats will eliminate slipping and the danger of burns or cuts
  • Push-button salad dryers take the strain off the joints of the arm

In fact, a visit to the kitchen and bathroom departments of your local department store will reveal a large number of these helpful devices. And each one of them will make activities in the kitchen, bathroom, toilet etc. more pleasant and more manageable.

Relaxation aids

Nobody knows better than you the things your loved one enjoys. Is it listening to the radio, watching favourite programs on television, music or reading? Technology can be very helpful. Particularly if holding books, turning pages and things of that nature can cause discomfort. For example, iPads can be used to access audio books. Also, modern stereos with remote controls eliminate the need for getting up and down constantly and music streaming will provide variety. See, your enabling hours of relaxing, soothing music of their choice just by following these few steps. And why not get some gentle dance moves in if they feel up to it? Further, the right television set at the right distance will do the same job; avoiding disruption and avoiding pain. Finally, periods of rest and relaxation in between gentle exercise regimens are highly recommended by the experts in the field.


Last but not least, an unfortunate reality of an elderly person living with arthritis involves the use of medication. Once again, the first stop must be your loved one’s GP. That’s because the correct medication in the right doses is vital. It will mean the difference between success and failure in the management of pain. Also, modern day cold and heat packs have replaced hot water bottles and ice cubes in a towel. Safe and practical, with the help of a microwave oven or freezer, they are easy to prepare and use. Transferring tablets to easier to open containers is a good idea too. However, remember to transfer the labels, as well as the instructions, to avoid mistakes.

We hope the above information has proved helpful for you, as you try to do your best caring for an elderly relative with arthritis.

Recommended reading

For more detailed information on arthritis, including helpful fact sheets, go to

This blog is intended to provide helpful advice. Please speak with your family GP for personalised information or, for specialist advice & support in Melbourne Australia, please contact VERMONT AGED CARE:

770 Canterbury Road, Vermont, Victoria, Australia 3133

Phone: +61 03-9873 5300. Email:

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