We all know that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can cause physical discomfort for a person, but it can also impact their mental health. They may feel low and frustrated.
Looking after a loved one suffering from RA can be emotionally and physically draining on caregivers as well.
Here are some tips to help caregivers take better care of their loved ones living with RA:
RA flare-ups are hard to predict. Having consistent, convenient access to medicines can help manage symptoms during a flare.
Caregivers should speak openly with their loved one about guilt, anger or fears about RA
Technology can help the caregiver and their loved one stay organized. Caregivers should save doctors’ phone numbers, insurance information, prescriptions in one place and create a backup of all the data. Using apps to create medication reminders can also be helpful
Caregivers should reach out to close friends or family members to help with some caregiving duties.
If a person with RA needs a wheelchair at the clinic, airport, or hotel, it is advisable to arrange for the same in advance
Caregivers should look out for depression symptoms and warning signs such as incessant crying, binge drinking and alcohol abuse, sleeping too much or too little, body aches and being withdrawn from their surroundings
Caregivers should consult their healthcare provider to better provide healthy meals for their loved ones.
Here are some questions that caregivers can ask the treating doctor,
particularly at the first appointment:
Having basic knowledge about common terms related to RA can help improve understanding of the symptoms, doctor’s diagnosis and treatment options. Some of the common terms include:
Low red blood cell count. A symptom of RA.
Swelling due to fluid retention. A symptom of RA.
A joint is where two or more bones meet. It allows the to allow movement.
Spinal joints are called facet joints (or zygapophyseal joints).
A state when RA symptoms are active or worsen.
A state when RA symptoms improve or are inactive.
The body’s defence system against various germs and foreign substances.
This is a protein or a component found in the blood of many RA patients.
Small bumps underneath the skin, especially near the elbows.
A medical doctor who specializes in autoimmune conditions and rheumatic joint diseases that affect joints, muscles and bone function.
A state when the body’s immune system cannot tell the difference between a healthy cell or a diseased cell. In autoimmune diseases, the body erroneously attacks its own healthy tissues. RA is an autoimmune condition.
These accommodations in the living area and kitchen can make life easier and safer for an RA patient.
Dealing with RA pain can be difficult at times, both for the patient as well as the caregiver.
These tips may help in managing and coping with the pain:
A positive attitude may help ease the physical pain. Follow these tips to stay upbeat:
Help them accept the disease. Remember accepting without judgment is the key to a more productive life in RA for both the patient and caregiver.
Having a positive outlook helps to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best
Depression, pain and RA are connected. So, try to stay active with them as much as possible.
Reach out to friends, family, or even a therapist for help.
Make them connect with others who have RA.
Encourage friends and family to accept their illness.
Self-care is an important aspect for any caregiver, yet, it is often neglected.
Middle-aged caregivers can also be at an increased risk of developing depression as they may be dealing with other responsibilities. Irrespective of age, gender, race and ethnicity, caregivers report these problems:
Identify warning signs of stress and take action
Get rid of the guilt and anger. Make time for self-care
Set personal goals
Adopt a problem-solving attitude for each and every situation
Ask for and accept a helping hand
Communicate in a clear, assertive, and constructive manner
Exercise regularly to stay physically fit and mentally strong