Arthritis is a collective term that refers to multiple diseases that cause joint inflammation. There are more than 100 such diseases, which makes arthritis the most common cause of disability in US seniors. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are more than 54 million American adults with arthritis. Without treatment, individuals with arthritis can lose their mobility and may find it difficult to perform basic daily tasks.
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While there are many types of arthritis, most tend to fall into two categories:
1. Degenerative Osteoarthritis
This condition is often referred to simply as “osteoarthritis.” It is a disorder that is characterized by damage to a joint's cartilage and surrounding tissues. Other terms for osteoarthritis include "wear and tear" arthritis and "degenerative joint disease." Over time, new cartilage and bone cause the joints to become larger which can result in considerable pain and decreased mobility.
Degenerative osteoarthritis is the product of multiple factors and you may be able to modify or prevent many of them. Tips for preventing degenerative osteoarthritis include:
- Watch Your Weight
Being overweight is one of the main risk factors for osteoarthritis as excess weight places additional stress on your joints. The strain can damage the cartilage that cushions these joints.
- Healthy Lifestyle
Diabetes and a sedentary lifestyle can also increase the likelihood of developing degenerative osteoarthritis. The combination of a healthy diet and exercise can go a long way towards limiting the risk factors. At a minimum, these lifestyle changes can delay its onset.
2. Inflammatory Arthritis
Inflammatory arthritis is an arthritis subgroup that includes autoimmune disorders. The types of arthritis under this classification involve the immune system. When an individual has inflammatory arthritis, their body's defense mechanism is attacking their own tissue. The result can be damaged and deformed joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is one form of inflammatory arthritis. According to the Rheumatoid Arthritis Support Network, there are over 1.3 million Americans with this disease.
The severity of the symptoms varies between individuals, with some having mild symptoms and others having severe pain. The initial symptoms are usually mild but can progress over time. If the condition is diagnosed and treated early, it may be possible to limit the damage.
Researchers have not discovered what causes some people to develop rheumatoid arthritis, but believe that the risk involves a combination of internal and external factors. While it is not possible to change a person’s genetics, it may be possible to reduce the risk associated with other potential causes. You can reduce your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis by following these tips:
- Stop Smoking
Smoking is one potential cause. The CDC states that smoking can more than double your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Smoking is one of the few risk factors for rheumatoid arthritis that is entirely within your control.
- Lose Weight
The Mayo Clinic has found that women diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis before age 55 are more likely to be overweight, which means that losing weight may reduce an individual’s risk of developing this condition.
How Senior Living Communities Can Help
Exercise, good nutrition, and weight control are useful for treating the disease, as well as for preventing it. Senior living communities prioritize both and provide residents with healthy diets and opportunities to exercise.
With the right lifestyle changes, you can delay or prevent the onset of arthritis. A senior living community can provide your loved one with the help they need to minimize the risk of developing this condition.