It has been proven that continuous exercise and regular movement helps to keep joints flexible and mobile, and for those with arthritis it’s even more important. During the winter months, it’s even harder to keep moving, and arthritis is often made worse by the cooler weather.
For older people, including care home residents, arthritis can make joints stiff and painful, so finding ways to help keep mobile can help to reduce discomfort in the affected areas. Exercise is one of the best ways to decrease pain and improve the joints, so any mild form of movement that you can encourage will make a difference.
To get you started here are some exercises and other tips to help with the relief of arthritis aches and pains during winter:
1. Water therapy for arthritis
Going to a warm water pool is a great way to overcome arthritis, especially pain in the hip joint. The water warms and moisturizes the hip joint, and while in the water, weight and pressure on the hip joint will be reduced. If it’s possible try and organise a trip out for a group to enjoy this fun and soothing activity. More able individuals could also join in with a water aerobics or aqua aerobics class.
2. Dress warm and in layers
During winter it is essential to dress warm, with loose clothes in layers. As individuals start to feel cold they can put more on, and once warm enough the layers are then easy to remove. When dressing care home residents, ensure care staff are careful not to overdress the individual in case they begin to overheat, and check regularly to make sure they are comfortable.
3. Keep Hydrated
Dehydration makes an individual more sensitive to the pain of arthritis, and maintaining an optimum level of water in the body helps to keep them active. Dehydration also effects brain function, so ensure that those in your care not only always have a drink, but that they are actually drinking it.
4. Indoor exercise
During winter – as well as all year round for some care residents – it may be difficult to get outdoors to enjoy some mild exercise, but getting mobile indoors is just as effective for beating the symptoms of arthritis. There are a number of activities individuals can do inside, from gently walking on a treadmill to ease hip pain, and playing games like boules or catch with a ball or beanbag to warm up the fingers. Not only will these activities ward off arthritis aches and pains, they’ll likely bring a smile to faces as well!
Stress balls are also another effective way to get sore fingers warm and moving again, so see what works best for different individuals.
5. Make life easier where possible
Go gentle on painful joints by allowing individuals to take things steady, and encourage regular movement. For instance, our motorised recliners such as Dual Motor Recliners allow those with arthritis in the hip to get up slowly and carefully with motorised assistance, and sit again with ease. This way, they can get up more often and get moving whenever they can, and be able to sit down again easily, in a supported and painless manner.
6. Fish oil tablets
These contain omega 3 rich fatty acids, which helps to improve pain in arthritis. As there are risks of bleeding however, make sure to consult with the individual’s doctor before supplying fish oil tablets.
7. Drug options
You can also consider taking anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). These are over the counter medicines, so only the minimum dose should be taken, and only for a short period of time. Again, there may be side effects with NSAIDs such as liver problems, so always consult the individual’s doctor before offering any medicinal remedies for the condition.
If your residents are interested in trying some other non-traditional treatment, acupuncture has been found to help with arthritis. It relieves arthritis pain and can help the patient feel better afterwards.
9. Vitamin D supplementation
Sunlight helps to make vitamin D in our skin. Vitamin D helps to improve arthritis and a deficiency of vitamin D also increases the risk of osteoarthritis. But during winter we don't get enough sunlight, and, so if you can, try and get everyone outdoors! Even on a cloudy day the sun provides a good level of vitamin D.
Alternately, perhaps offer residents the option to take a vitamin D supplement if they wish. Always consult their doctor, and potentially their family, for permission.
We hope you found these tips and ideas helpful, and that care facility residents might enjoy a more pain-free winter with some help to beat the burden of arthritis.