Arthritis can affect any joint in the body. However, when arthritis makes the joints in the fingers, hands, and wrists hurt, seniors can have a difficult time doing normal everyday tasks, let alone the things they enjoy. The pain can sometimes be so bad that they may not feel like doing anything. Easing the pain can greatly improve the older adult’s quality of life.
Below are some ideas to try when arthritis pain is making life miserable for your aging relative.
Use Hand Exercises
Exercising the hands can help to keep the joints from getting stiff. There are many different exercises that can help, such as:
- Making Fists: Have the older adult make a loose fist, then straighten the hand out completely. Repeat the move many times for each hand.
- Finger Bends: Ask the senior to straighten out their hand, then bend each finger toward the palm one at a time. Do this several times.
- Thumb Stretches: Straighten out the hand, then bend the thumb toward the palm, stretching to reach the base of the pinky.
- Finger Lifts: Place the hand flat on a tabletop or other surface. One at a time, life each finger off the table, then put it back down before lifting the next.
Hot or Cold Packs
Ice can be useful for reducing swelling in the joints. However, you should never apply ice directly to joints without using some sort of protective covering. Wrap an ice pack in a towel before placing it on the senior’s hands.
Hot packs will help with stiffness. Fill a bowl with warm water. Have the older adult soak their hands in the water for several minutes.
Time Activities for When There is Less Pain
Many older adults have more pain as the day goes on. If that’s the case for your aging relative, plan to do activities that involve the hands earlier in the day. When pain gets worse, allow them to rest and do less active things, like watching television or listening to music.
Learn Ways to Adapt
An occupational therapist can teach the senior different ways to do things that will put less strain on their hands. There are also adaptive devices that can make doing certain things easier. For example, wide handled eating utensils can make it easier to grip forks and knives.
Enlist the Help of Home Care
Homecare providers can help your loved one to accomplish tasks that are difficult because of arthritic hands, like buttoning a shirt or tying shoes. Homecare providers can also help them to manage the pain. A homecare provider can prepare a cold pack or a warm bowl of water. Homecare providers can also help them to do hand exercises.