As people age, their bodies become more prone to a variety of ailments including Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). RA is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and pain in the joints, leading to stiffness and difficulty with daily activities. Common in older adults, this condition can be particularly challenging to manage due to the age-related changes in the body. In this article, we will discuss some of the unique challenges associated with RA in older adults, and potential management approaches to treat the condition.
What Makes Rheumatoid Arthritis in Older Adults Particularly Challenging?
RA can be more troublesome for seniors than for younger people with the condition, primarily due to the frailty that can accompany the aging process. Seniors may have weakened bone structure, reducing their tolerance of certain medications, and a higher risk of fall-related injuries. Additionally, older adults are more likely to have co-occurring conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, which can make treating RA more complex.
Management Approaches for Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis in Older Adults
While there is no cure for RA, effective management of the disease is crucial to reducing the pain, fatigue, and other symptoms associated with the condition. Treatment plans should be tailored to the individual, taking into account their overall health, medication routine, and lifestyle habits.
Medication: Medication is typically the cornerstone of RA treatment, and most RA medications are available for use by older adults. This may include over-the-counter medications as well as more potent immunosuppressant drugs. Common medications for RA include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, methotrexate, and biologic agents.
Therapy: Physical therapy and occupational therapy are important for older adults with RA, as these therapies can help improve joint flexibility, strength, and range of motion. Additionally, therapy such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or mindfulness-based stress reduction may help older adults manage their emotional health in light of the condition.
Lifestyle Habits: Self-care is also an essential part of RA management. Eating a healthy diet, staying active, and avoiding excessive alcohol use are important for maintaining overall health. Additionally, avoiding common triggers of RA flares, such as smoking, can be particularly beneficial for older adults.
RA can be an especially challenging condition for older adults due to their age-related changes and co-occurring conditions. However, there are various approaches to managing RA in this population, including medication, therapy, and lifestyle habits. All in all, it is essential to work closely with your doctor to create a treatment plan that is right for you.