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Exercise and Companionship May Ease Arthritis Pain

Exercise has been documented as a safe and beneficial remedy for arthritis.

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Arthritis is among the most common of senior afflictions, plaguing hundreds of thousands of older adults every day. Exercise has been documented as a safe and beneficial remedy for arthritis. A little extra assistance at home can help as well when senior conditions strike.

Q. I am suffering so from rheumatoid arthritis that I can barely do anything these days. Since I live alone it's such a challenge for me. Do you have any advice?

Your doctor should be contacted to provide the best source of advice for you and your situation. But here's an interesting study that you can ask your physician about.

Research in Portugal targeting arthritis sufferers found that moderate aerobic and strengthening exercises, conducted for 50-60 minutes three times per week, proved to be safe and beneficial both physically and in terms of quality of life for patients.

During the three months of the Portuguese study, researchers observed the following:

  • A 33 percent improvement in the HAQ (Health Assessment Questionnaire) disability index measurement of physical functioning (assessing ability to undertake everyday activities such as dressing, eating and walking, and whether assistance from another person or disability aids is required.)
  • An improvement in physical function such as sitting and standing, gripping and walking.
  • A reduced need for daily corticosteroid intake by 62 percent of patients.
  • The elimination of NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) treatment altogether by 32 percent of patients.
  • An improvement in the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS), a self-reported assessment of negative emotional states, by 40 percent of patients.

The exercise program also was associated with a stabilizing effect in disease activity measured by DAS28 (Disease Activity Score). DAS28 is an index used by physicians to measure how active is an individual's rheumatoid arthritis. Among other things, it assesses number of tender and swollen joints.

As you can see, exercise has produced impressive results for the body and the mind. But your doctor will know for sure whether an exercise program is something that would be safe and beneficial for you.

In the meantime, why not consider a little extra help? Your local Home Instead® office hires CAREGiversSM, who are screened, trained, bonded and insured, to serve as companions to seniors in their homes to assist with such tasks as meal preparation, light housekeeping, errands and shopping. What's more, the service is flexible. You need only sign up for a few hours a week or as many as 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

To learn more about our arthritis home care services, contact the local Home Instead office nearest you.

Last revised: February 15, 2011

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