The Festive season means spending time with family and friends. But if one of them is an arthritis sufferer it can sometimes be difficult to know what to say or do and if you haven’t seen them for a while, it can be sad to see that their condition has deteriorated. People sometimes feel helpless and ask how they can best support their loved one.
Love, patience and understanding are among the greatest gifts you can give to someone with arthritis. So, maybe forget about the socks and the chocolates this Christmas and give some of the following instead:
1. A Willingness to Listen
It can be hard to live with arthritis. The condition is painful and unpredictable, sometimes changing from day to day. Often what sufferers need most is someone to listen to them. You don’t need to try and fix the problems, simply be willing to hear what the person has to say.
2. Learn About the Condition
The more you know about arthritis and its impact, the more you will be able to understand what your friend or family member is going through. Looking at websites, reading articles and listening to what sufferers have to say is a good way to find out about some of the challenges of the condition and also what may help to bring some relief.
3. Be Willing to Adapt
Most people with arthritis have good days and bad days and sometimes you may need to change your plans to fit in with how the person is feeling on that day. It can be a huge relief to the person who has the condition not to have to explain or apologise for needing to take things easy on the days when they’re in a lot of pain.
4. Don’t Tell Them They Can’t
There is a balance to be struck between offering support and understanding and being overly protective and rigid. Always allow the person with arthritis to decide for themselves what they can and can’t do.
5. Let Them Manage Their Own Condition
When we see someone we love struggling or in pain, it can be tempting to tell them how to manage their condition more effectively. But taking someone’s autonomy away is never a good thing, no matter how well-intentioned. Always allow the person to make their own decisions about how to manage their condition.
6. Contribute to Their Quality of Life
Living with a chronic disease is a balancing act between managing the symptoms that it causes – pain, stiffness, fatigue, swelling, restricted movement in the case of arthritis – and maintaining a good quality of life. You can help your loved one with arthritis to enjoy a good quality of life by supporting them to do as much as they feel able to and by being there with them to enjoy it.
7. See Them as a Person Not a Disease
One of the greatest gifts you can give is to offer the same level of friendship, love and support as you would do if they were not suffering from arthritis.
Don’t allow the disease to colour your relationship or to dominate every conversation. The person may have different needs and a few more limitations but, essentially, they are the same as they have always been and will appreciate you relating to them in the way that you have always done.
If you need further advice or support about arthritis you can get this from Versus Arthritis (https://www.versusarthritis.org), formerly Arthritis Care and Arthritis Research UK.
Consult with an orthopaedic specialist
If lifestyle changes and non-surgical treatments have been tried and yet the pain persists, it could be time to consider joint replacement surgery.
These days hip and knee replacements are becoming a common procedure to help (in many cases) eliminate arthritis symptoms all together.
A consultation is the first step to finding out your options and seeing what is right for you, or your family member.
Our consultation fees can be clearly found here.
“I had my left hip replaced by Mr Carrothers and couldn’t have had better treatment, particularly as I had originally been diagnosed incorrectly by doctors as having ‘wear and tear’ in my knee.
He was very good at explaining the procedure and what it would entail. After 6 weeks I am able to walk normally which I haven’t been able to do for 18 months.
He was very supportive after the operation, visiting to assess my progress and was greatly reassuring.
As my other knee might need attention at some time, I would have no qualms in asking him to do the operation, when necessary. I can think of no way he might improve his care for his patients.”