Q: I am suffering pretty badly with rheumatoid arthritis, so much that I can barely do anything these days. Since I live alone it is a challenge for me. Do you have any advice?
A: Your doctor should be contacted to provide the best source of advice for you and your situation. But here’s an interesting study that you can ask your physician about. Research in Portugal targeting arthritis sufferers found that moderate aerobic and strengthening exercises, conducted for 50 to 60 minutes three times per week, proved to be safe and beneficial both physically and in terms of quality of life for patients.
During the three months of the Portuguese study, researchers observed the following:
A 33 per cent improvement in the health assessment questionnaire disability index measurement of physical functioning (assessing ability to undertake everyday activities such as dressing, eating, and walking, and whether assistance from another person or disability aids is required ).
An improvement in physical function such as sitting and standing, gripping, and walking.
A reduced need for daily corticosteroid intake by 62 per cent of patients.
The elimination of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug treatment altogether by 32 per cent of patients.
An improvement in the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales, a self-reported assessment of negative emotional states, by 40 per cent of patients.
The exercise programme was also associated with a stabilising effect in disease activity measured by Disease Activity Score. DAS28 is an index used by doctors to measure how active is an individual's rheumatoid arthritis. Among other things, it assesses number of tender and swollen joints.
As you can see, exercise has produced impressive results for the body and the mind. But your doctor will know for sure whether an exercise programme is something that would be safe and beneficial for you.
In the meantime, why not consider a little extra help getting things done until your condition improves? Home Instead Senior Care hires caregivers, who are screened, trained, bonded, and insured, to serve as companions to seniors in their homes to assist with such tasks as meal preparation, light housekeeping, errands, and shopping. What’s more, the service is flexible. You need only sign up for a few hours a week or as many as 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Five nutrition tips
Drink enough water. As we age, the amount of water in our bodies decreases and we become dehydrated more easily. Pour a couple of glasses of water each day even if you don’t feel thirsty.
Keep up your protein levels with fish, eggs, and poultry. This helps prevent wasted muscle and supports your immune system.
Too many older people have iron deficiency. Red meat and breakfast cereals can help.
Regular portions of meat, poultry, and fish will keep up your zinc levels.
Deficiency of vitamin B12 can lead to atrophic gastritis — inflammation of the stomach. Supplements are available to counter this deficiency.
Always consult your doctor before making radical changes to your diet.