Maintaining Independence and Keeping Active With Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis becomes more complicated as you age. Your chances of winding up in the hospital spike rather dramatically after age 65, and you’ll meet more challenges in therapy as you try to rehabilitate and restore mobility. However, as long as you make a few smart adjustments, there’s no need to give up on an independent lifestyle.
The keys to a better quality of life with osteoarthritis are prevention and adaptation: take steps to protect your body from further damage, and then create a plan to prevent accidents and maintain strength, so you can continue to enjoy a high quality of life.
The Cycle of Inactivity
The principal problems with osteoarthritis are joint pain and stiffness, but these can quickly lead to a host of other physical and emotional issues:
- Stiffness impacts range of motion and motivation. When joints stiffen too much, your natural ability to balance suffers, and you’ll find it difficult to bear your body weight. This not only leads to more falls, but also to the fear of falling, and that can keep you from doing all sorts of everyday tasks and recreational activities that you enjoy.
- Physical inactivity leads to emotional strain. Less social interaction outside the home means less stimulation, and if physical discomfort keeps you from working, you’ll likely experience more stress and boredom. In the end, this sense of isolation together with your physical pain can bring on apathy or depression – and that will knock down your activity level even more.
- Muscle tone and strength diminishes. When the joints aren’t exercised regularly, muscles weaken. The older you are, the more difficult it will be to regain strength, and the weakness will lead to disability. Eventually, you’ll lose the ability to perform simple tasks, and you’ll have to rely on others to help you through your day.
Since the cycle of inactivity impacts every corner of your life, you need to devote attention to every part of your disease management – your self-care, supplementary care, and education – in order to stay happy and independent.