“According to the World Health Organization, 9.6% of men and 18.0% of women older than 60 years of age worldwide have symptomatic osteoarthritis (OA), making OA one of the most prevalent chronic diseases,” reports BoneAndJointCanada.com, “In Canada, there are currently more than 4.6 million people living with OA which will rise, within a generation (in 30 years) to more than 10 million (or one in four).”
Osteoarthritis is defined as a degenerative joint disease. The condition can impact various joints throughout the body, causing pain, stiffness and reduced mobility. OA often results from wear and tear of the joints, and is exacerbated by obesity and/or trauma to the area. Often considered a normal part of aging, the condition predominantly impacts older adults. Their top challenges, as a result, are as follows.
Osteoarthritis is most commonly characterized by chronic joint pain. Of course, this can be particularly debilitating for older adults. As the cartilage that cushions the joints wears away, bones can rub against each other, leading to constant discomfort. The pain may vary in intensity but often becomes a constant presence in the lives of those with OA. Managing and finding relief from this pain is a daily struggle for many older individuals.
In 2021, the Arthritis Society commissioned a special national report by the Arthritis Community Research and Evaluation Unit (ACREU). Entitled The Burden of Osteoarthritis in Canada, it was the first of its kind to conduct surveys about the current state of OA in Canada. Among its many findings, the study found that more than 90% of people with OA experience joint pain, stiffness or aching.
The pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis can severely limit mobility. Simple tasks like standing up from a chair, climbing stairs or walking can become challenging and painful. In addition, activities like cooking, cleaning, dressing and maintaining personal hygiene can become difficult. Reduced mobility can affect independence, as older adults may find it increasingly hard to perform essential activities of daily living.
This loss of autonomy can be frustrating and emotionally taxing, leading to a sense of dependency and diminished self-esteem. The Arthritis Society reports that more than three quarters (77%) of people with OA report that it has required them to reduce at least some of their day-to-day activities.
As you can imagine, the pain and discomfort from osteoarthritis often interfere with sleep. Many older adults with OA experience sleep disturbances due to joint pain and restlessness. Inadequate or poor-quality sleep can further exacerbate the challenges they face during the day. This includes difficulties in concentration, mood swings and reduced overall well-being.
“Nearly two thirds (64%) of people with OA report it limits them in getting a good night’s sleep, especially in women,” reveals the ACREU report, “Women are also more likely to report severe and frequent fatigue.”
Depression and anxiety.
Living with chronic pain and limitations imposed by osteoarthritis can lead to emotional struggles. Many older adults with OA experience symptoms of depression and anxiety. The loss of physical function, independence and the ability to engage in activities they once enjoyed can have a profound impact on their mental health.
Among the top feelings of concern are social isolation and loneliness. Older adults may become reluctant to engage in social activities or leave their homes due to pain and mobility issues. Isolation can intensify the emotional toll of living with osteoarthritis, exacerbating feelings of sadness and despair.
“People with OA are also more likely to say their mental health isn’t good, compared to the general population,” says the Arthritis Society, “They are more likely to have been diagnosed with a mood or anxiety disorder in addition to OA.”
Opioid medication use.
To manage the chronic pain associated with osteoarthritis, some older adults may be prescribed opioid medications. While these drugs can provide relief, they also come with potential risks, including dependency and addiction. It is crucial for healthcare providers to carefully monitor opioid use in older adults with OA to ensure their safety and well-being.
Addiction to opioids is a major issue in our country. “In 2020, the opioid crisis claimed the lives of 4,395 people in Canada,” informs The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, “That’s equivalent to 12 opioid-related deaths per day.”
The pain and reduced mobility associated with osteoarthritis can lead to muscle weakness. As older adults become less active to avoid pain, their muscles may atrophy, further limiting their ability to support and stabilize affected joints. This muscle weakness can contribute to a cycle of increased pain and limited mobility.
Of course, the combination of pain and muscle weakness can significantly impact a person’s balance and ability to walk. Naturally, this increases the risk of falls and injuries for older adults. The pain and stiffness in affected joints can cause instability and lead to dangerous accidents. Fall-related injuries can further complicate the health and well-being of older individuals with OA.
How do stair lifts help seniors who have osteoarthritis?
Stair lifts are incredibly effective solutions for older adults contending with OA. When a set of stairs is difficult to climb, a stair lift ensures than an individual can enjoy all levels of his/her home. Naturally, for elderly individuals who struggle with strength and balance, the addition of stair lifts makes their homes a lot safer.
A stair lift also promotes independence for walker, rollator and wheelchair users who would otherwise need a caregiver’s assistance to get up and down the stairs. With a stair lift in the home, aging in place is made possible. A family can safely and comfortably maintain living arrangements for its elderly members instead of placing them in long-term care facilities.
The Advantage Home Health Solutions team always ensures that you have the complete picture to make an informed stair lift purchase. We will happily help you to choose which stair lift solution is best for you. To learn more, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 403-460-5438. You may also email us by filling out the form on our Contact page!