Arthritis isn’t a rite of passage as we age, though for many it feels that way. As our senior loved ones – and we as caregivers – get older, our bodies can suffer from the wear and tear we put on them through life.
Many of us, caregivers and senior loved ones alike, begin feeling joint pain caused by osteoarthritis. Pain affects nearly 70 million Americans each year and is thought to be the number one reason that we seek out the doctor.
(Note from Senior Care Corner: This is an important topic for seniors and family caregivers so we are happy to present this post written by us and sponsored by DePuy, part of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies. We appreciate their sponsorship and will only present you information about products and services in which we believe.)
Chronic pain, especially in seniors, needs to be controlled or it can lead to other serious consequences such as depression, withdrawal from socialization leading to isolation, decreased mobility, inability to complete daily activities, increased risk for falls and fractures and potential for nursing placement and loss of aging in place.
Here’s a story that really brings this to life:
Prevalence of Arthritis in the United States
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Nearly 1 in 2 people may develop symptomatic knee osteoarthritis by age 85
- 1 in 4 people may develop painful hip arthritis in their lifetime
- Two thirds of those who are obese are likely to develop knee osteoarthritis in their lifetime
- In 2007-2009, 50% of adults over 65 years reported a diagnosis of arthritis
- In 2005 it was estimated that 27 million adults had osteoarthritis
- 44% of adults with doctor-diagnosed arthritis report no leisure time physical activity
- Arthritis is the most common cause of disability among US adults
- In 2004, there were 454,652 total knee replacements performed and 232,857 total hip replacements, primarily for arthritis
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis.
When joint pain is the result of arthritis, specifically osteoarthritis, it can be treated through joint replacement. Joint replacement is surgery performed by an orthopedic surgeon to remove a damaged joint. Most often it’s a hip or knee that’s replaced but any damaged joint causing limited movement can be replaced. The doctor will replace the damaged bones with a prosthesis.
Recent reports indicate that more than one million Americans have hip or knee joint replacements each year. Maybe no surgery can be considered “routine” if you’re the patient, but joint replacement is becoming fairly common and will likely become even more so as American continues to age.
Preparing for Joint Replacement Surgery
A joint replacement is surgery and comes with risks. We recommend that you speak with your doctor about the medical risks. We like the advice on this video:
Check out DePuy’s YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/DePuyVideos) for more informative videos and stories from patients like the one up above.
In addition to the tips presented by Dr. Johnson, you can also prepare by eating a healthy diet to ensure that you are going into surgery in the best possible health. Include adequate protein sources and fruits and vegetables to bring a rainbow of vitamins and minerals to your plate. Be sure to tell your doctor if you are taking any nutritional supplements prior to your surgery.
You may want to stock up your refrigerator before your surgery so you have plenty of healthy and easy to prepare foods ready for your recovery needs.
Caring for Caregivers
Caregivers are very important in the lives of our seniors. It is vital that you stay healthy and mobile. You have to stay healthy to continue to provide care and support for your senior loved one.
As a healthcare professional in a rehabilitation facility, I treat joint replacement patients personally. There is some pain on recovery with therapy to be expected as you move the new joint. However, the overwhelming response I hear every day is “I wished I had the surgery years ago, what was I waiting for?” Many of my patients return following replacement of the other knee and even a hip that is causing pain. The life enhancing effects of replacing a painful joint that limits quality of life can not be underestimated.
As we often say at Senior Care Corner, let’s put life into our years!