“It hurts so much I don’t even want to get out of bed.”
Is that a familiar feeling? If you suffer from the nagging, chronic, persistent, and sometimes debilitating pain of arthritis, you might have said those words yourself. Or perhaps you think them more often than you care to admit.
But there are better ways to manage the pain, and even minimize it.
October 12 is World Arthritis Day, part of a worldwide campaign to focus attention on how seniors—and younger people—can keep on living well with rheumatic or musculoskeletal disease. And in honor of the observance, Deupree’s senior healthcare experts would like to share 12 empowering ideas for getting past the pain of arthritis:
1. Maintain a healthy weight.
If you currently carry around even as few as 10 extra pounds, you’re putting greater stress on your aching joints. Losing them will take a load of pressure off your knees and ease your pain as well. Just be sure to lose those pounds healthfully.
2. Move— and do it every day.
You don't have to run marathons or perform strenuous calisthenics. Walking is perfect exercise, for your joints and for your heart; and if you do it outdoors in a safe environment, you also get fresh air, sunshine and the chance to enjoy nature's beauty. Or visit a mall periodically -- to meet friends, attend a movie or just to do some window-shopping. Swimming, and other water-based activities are also perfect for arthritis sufferers, good for the body and the spirit.
3. Be gentle on your joints.
As a favorite family doctor likes to say, "If it hurts, don't do it." Yoga and other stretching exercises, with proper supervision, can be beneficial, but they do not have to hurt to be effective. Ballroom dancing is also a fun and low-impact way to get active.
4. Be wary of repetitive motion.
You probably already know how tiring it can be to sit for lengthy periods at a desk or in front of a computer. So make sure you switch up your routine! Take frequent breaks even while involved in favorite activities— gardening, cooking, knitting, or cleaning out the garage! Vary your positions and get up periodically, even if are simply watching television.
5. Savor healthy fats.
Contrary to what most fad-dieters say, some fats are good for you! Learn to love salmon and foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Alter your diet to make room for foods rich in these fats, and in the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents that are so good for you. There's a long list— avocados, olive oil, nuts, blueberries, spices such as curry, cumin, cinnamon, ginger and turmeric, and spinach, broccoli and sweet potatoes.
6. Get your Vitamin D.
Vitamin D is essential part of bone health—it’s what aids in the absorption of calcium. So, remember the benefits of eggs, dairy products and a little sun. Or talk to your doctor about taking a supplement.
7. Don't miss your medications.
Your doctors have prescribed medication regimens for a reason. They are an important part of victory over chronic pain!
8. Eliminate hazards that could cause accidents and falls.
Clutter isn’t just an eyesore—it can be a real danger for seniors with arthritis or limited mobility. So do your best to get rid of the piles of stuff that’s cluttering up your home environment, and add visual aids, like more lighting, as necessary.
9. Love your sleep.
Getting enough rest influences not only your physical health, but your mood as well. Try to maintain a "living well" routine that includes sleeping well.
10. Eliminate stress from your life.
Worry benefits no one. In fact, Chronic stress, brought on by a diverse menu of causes, can directly impact your physical health, mental well-being and, ultimately, your overall quality of life.
11. Have fun.
It’s been said that laughter is the best medicine. And while we can’t recommend replacing your medications with a good comedy routine, having a good laugh is certainly good for the soul. Remember to smile, laugh and enjoy some time with friends— every day.
12. Don’t let your symptoms take control.
Realize that you are in charge of your life, and it is your job to make it the best it can be.