Arthritis is an extremely common health issue among elderly adults in the United States. There are currently more than 50 million adults in this country who have received a diagnosis of this disease from their doctor, and this number is expected to rise until it is well over 70 million people during the year 2040. While people immediately think of the pain and stiffness associated with arthritis, they might not realize there are other concerns and challenges that can occur in a person living with this disease. As a family caregiver, it is important to recognize such complications, such as fatigue, so you can help your parent to cope with them effectively.
Use these tips to help your aging parent cope with fatigue associated with arthritis:
-Recognize it. The first step toward managing fatigue associated with arthritis is simply recognizing that it is what your parent is facing. Knowing your senior is suffering and dealing with a complication of this disease allows both of you to address it in an appropriate way.
-Boost their diet. Deficiency in certain vitamins and minerals or protein can increase fatigue, and make it more difficult for your parent to “bounce back” when they have already slipped into fatigue. Talk to their doctor about the types of nutrients your parent should be getting to help them manage their fatigue. This can include eating a healthier diet or supplementing with vitamins.
-Encourage movement. It may seem like being physically active will make your parent more tired, but the reality is, getting physical activity actually boosts energy. Encourage your senior to stay more active throughout the day, even if it is just getting up and walking around the house, marching in place, or dancing for a few moments.
-Stay hydrated. Giving their body the water it needs is critical to supporting the production of energy. Find out how much water your parent truly needs, and encourage them to get it throughout the day. Having a refillable water bottle with them throughout the day to sip, eating high-fluid foods such as fruits and vegetables, and remembering to drink with meals can all help.
-Practice good sleep hygiene. The human body is very good with routine and schedules. One of the best ways to avoid fatigue is to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. This helps your parent fall asleep more easily, get deeper sleep, and wake up refreshed.
When you are a family caregiver, you are likely to encounter situations and care tasks that are sensitive. These tasks can be challenging for your aging parent to cope with, and for you to manage. It can be very difficult for your senior to accept that they need this help, and to allow you as their family caregiver and adult child, to manage them for them. For you, it can be stressful and upsetting to know your parent has these difficulties, and to help them handle them respectfully and effectively.
This is particularly true if your family has always been very modest or maintained strict boundaries. Fortunately, you don’t have to do this all on your own. Making home care a part of your care routine with your loved one can ease this stress and allow you to better maintain these boundaries while still knowing your senior’s needs are managed in effective, dignified ways that can even help them to exert more of their independence.