Over 54 million adults are affected by arthritis; an estimated one in five adults. It is suggested that the likelihood of getting arthritis increases with age; with 50% of seniors over 65 (approximately 15% of the current population) has arthritis. This can be alarming for caregivers as well as seniors.
In the most basic sense, arthritis is the inflammation of the joints such as fingers and knees. In more detailed respects, arthritis can:
Affect anyone at any age, any gender, and any race
Be any type from simple now-and-then annoyances to continual interruption of daily activity
Damage due to arthritis can be on-going, related to certain times (such as cold weather), or can be permanent
Effect other organs such as the lungs, heart, and kidneys as well as joints
There are some additional factors that could increase the chance of having arthritis as adults. Some of these include:
Having heart disease
With over 100 types of arthritis (and depending on some classifications, there may be over 200 types), there are a lot of variances related to this disease.
Because most types have some debilitation related to it, it’s likely that the person with arthritis will also develop anxiety or depression.
It’s already been mentioned that a main symptom of arthritis is inflammation of the joints. These can range from mild to very painful with the latter potentially causing disability. People with disabling forms of arthritis may not be able to use their hands or legs.
The pain from arthritis can also interrupt sleep and cause problems with eating habits. These are useful signs for caregivers to keep in mind when observing their senior loved one.
There are basically seven types of arthritis:
Inflammatory, which tends to arise out of protecting the body from other things like viruses however in doing so, can create discomfort in the joints.
Degenerative arthritis, also referred to as mechanical, relates to damaged cartilage on the bones. The cartilage helps with smooth movement of the joints.
Soft tissue musculoskeletal pain affects the soft tissue. Most people are familiar with the term “tennis elbow” which is a type of this arthritis.
Back pain can be caused by any area of the back, including the discs, muscles, as well as joints. Back pain can also be caused by injury to other areas of the body which may be overcompensating due to leg or knee injuries.
Connective tissue disease has to do with the aspects of the body that bind multiple parts together such as the cartilage and tendons. These aspects can become inflamed and affect the use of the organs and bones related to the connective tissue.
Infectious arthritis relates to damage due to viruses, such as hepatitis C.
Metabolic arthritis is directly related to a chemical breakdown in the body which creates uric acid. If the uric acid isn’t removed fast enough, it can create crystals that affect the joints. Gout is a common version of this type of arthritis.
Again, with so many variations, there are a lot of ways to experience arthritis. Thus, it’s useful for caregivers to check in with the senior loved one from time to time to see what symptoms the senior may be experiencing and how to get help for it.