Living with arthritis can be life changing but it’s not a life sentence. Here are a few suggestions that may make things easier.

Eat a healthy diet. This is reckoned important when you have arthritis – as well as providing your body with essential nutrients it will help you maintain a healthy weight, thus reducing stress on your joints. Even losing a few pounds can make a difference that you will notice.

Your diet should avoid red meat, cream and dairy products such as cheese. Try instead to eat foods from the following groups – fruit, vegetables, pasta, white meat, fish and brown rice.

It’s also a good idea to try to eat ‘oily’ fish such as sardines, salmon, tuna, herring and mackerel – these provide omega-3 EFA’s (essential fatty acids) which are thought to ease arthritic symptoms.

In the home. Don’t be afraid to change things to suit you – let your family know which tasks you find difficult and which you can still manage easily. Use mobility aids where you need them – hand rails, lever taps, trolleys for moving things around and long-handled sponges for bathing all rank high on simple aids to keep you mobile and independent.

Don’t be too proud to ask for help. Having arthritis isn’t your fault! Occupational therapists can help you to find new, easier ways of doing everyday tasks. They are specially trained for this – so why not take advantage of their knowledge?

Pain management. Pain is a western taboo, yet the stark fact is that arthritis can be a very painful condition. Modern analgesics can help a great deal, but research shows that keeping active, looking after your joints by taking warm baths or, where appropriate, applying cold compresses to affected joints and perhaps considering therapies such as osteopathy can all give significant relief from pain. Also get sufficient sleep – pain is harder to manage if you are tired.

Live an independent life. Not so easy if you suffer from acute arthritic conditions but help is available. The mental lift that any person affected by the mobility problems that arthritis can cause is well worth the effort of trying to stay in control of your life.

Again, tell family members that yes, you need help but don’t require babying. Check out the internet for arthritis support groups in your area – you may be surprised at the support available.

Make use of technology. Don’t feel that by using a powered aid such as an electric scooter or wheelchair to get around you’re ‘beaten’. It’s an adaptation to a condition and you have no need to feel guilty about wanting an easier life. You paid your taxes, didn’t you?

The many aids for those experiencing problems of mobility is today far more extensive than you may realise. From the powered scooters mentioned above to kitchen utensils with thick, grippy handles – the choices are endless. And the best thing is that these items are not made with ‘invalids’ in mind – just people whose life has changed.

That change may not be perceived by the arthritis sufferer to be for the better – indeed, it would be patronising to suggest that arthritis improves anyone’s lot – but at least it can now be adapted to and indeed combated, giving the person concerned a realistic approach to living with this sadly common condition.

Steve Dempster writes fiction, copy and articles such as the one above. For more information on mobility aids, see http://www.electric mobilityworld. com

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