Her knuckles are swollen and her knees hurt when she walks. She has a hard time doing the things she loves, like gardening and walking the dog. You watch her and wish that you could help. But what can you do?
More than 50% of the American population suffers with some form of arthritis. So chances are that you or someone you know is dealing with the pain and discomfort caused by the disease. And medications aren’t always 100% effective.
It’s hard to watch those you love suffer with arthritis pain. However, there are some things you can do bring comfort.
Korina Gonzalez, our Nurses Unlimited Special Care Attendant, uses warmth, massage, and tools adapted for ease of use.
- Warmth. Lay a warm, moist washcloth over the area for 5 to 10 minutes, replacing the cloths when they cool.
- Massage. A gentle massage can bring relief to the affected area. Use massage lotion for a smoother glide. For more sensitive clients, use lighter pressure. Patients with arthritis pain in their hands may find squeezing a soft ball helpful.
- Adaptive tools. Provide padded, lighter-weight utensils so that people can control their own feeding. These utensils often weigh less than standard utensils and are shaped ergonomically, allowing for easier movement. Adaptive utensils can be purchased at medical supply stores or online.
- Deep breathing. If patients become frustrated with the restrictions and discomfort caused by arthritis, Korina has them do deep breathing. For example, you could ask the patient to breathe in slowly through the nose for three seconds and then gently exhale through the mouth. This seems to help patients relax and ease discomfort.
It’s also important that clients feel they are in control. “Have them tell you when they’re ready to start a massage and what their comfort level is,” Korina says.
Henrietta Flores, a caregiver, homemaker, and companion with Nurses Unlimited, says it’s important to keep a continual dialogue going with the patient. “I ask my patients what I can do for them,” she says. She doesn’t guess their pain level or assume what will be helpful. “If they’re upset about things they can’t do, we try to talk about it.”
Through a combination of heat, massage, adaptive tools, and listening, you can help ease the pain and discomfort experienced by arthritis sufferers.