What Senior Caregivers Should Know about Arthritis

The term arthritis gets thrown around a lot, often serving as a blanket diagnosis. However, there are several different types of arthritis, each one possessing its own unique characteristics. Most types are considered chronic, meaning the condition is present for long periods of time.

Arthritis is one of the most commonly seen disorders in the United States. In fact, half of all seniors 65 and older are currently suffering from this disease. Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout are the most common types of arthritis among seniors.

When arthritis is present, joints can be affected in any part of the body. Some forms of arthritis produce tangible results. For example, many seniors report seeing swelling, a sensation of heat and redness at certain joints. Other forms of arthritis cause less painful or noticeable symptoms, but the body’s joints are continually damaged.

Common Kinds of Arthritis in Seniors

Let’s take a look at two commonly seen forms of arthritis among seniors:

  • Osteoarthritis: This is the most common type of arthritis for seniors. The disease causes cartilage to slowly wear down, leaving an inadequate amount of padding in the joint. When osteoarthritis is present for many years, all of the joint’s cartilage wears away, causing a senior’s bones to scrape each other during movement. Seniors commonly see osteoarthritis in the hands, lumbar spine, neck, knees and hips.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: With this form of arthritis, a senior’s body begins to attack the lining of a joint, similar to the way a body attacks germs and pathogens in an effort to fight off illness. Rheumatoid arthritis causes severe inflammation in a senior’s joints, causing pain, stiffness and swelling. What’s worse, this can happen to several different joints at the same time. Seniors are often unable to move the painful joint for several hours at a time. Rheumatoid arthritis also causes older adults to feel lethargic and run a fever. Not only does rheumatoid arthritis wreak havoc on a senior’s joints, it can also migrate to organs of the body. There are reports of this particular arthritis attacking the heart, nervous system and eyes.

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