Arthritis-Friendly Exercise: Water Aerobics

Staying Put at Home Tips for Mobility Is being active a part of your life? If you suffer from arthritis, you might actually do all you can to avoid physical activity. As many orthopedic experts caution, though, trying to stop achy joints with a sedentary lifestyle may result only in more pain when you do move. Too little exercise can also lead to other health problems such as obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Staying Put at Home understands that not all types of exercise may benefit arthritis sufferers. In fact, high-impact activities might aggravate joint deterioration. However, you can find workout options to fit your interests and health needs. In the last of our series on arthritis-friendly exercise, we discuss water aerobics, an enjoyable way to get moving, get wet and get in shape.

How Water Helps Joints

Why does the Arthritis Foundation recommend water activities for arthritis sufferers? Well, consider how much harder it is to move your arms or legs through water than in air. The resistance you feel has two major benefits. One, it provides a buoyant buffer around your joints. So when you take a step in water, your joints experience significantly less stress than when you walk on land. Two, it requires you to use more energy as you move from point A to point B, which means greater muscle exertion. Stronger muscles take the burden of motion off your joints, and as a result, you can slow their arthritic decline.

What You Can Do in the Water

The possibilities of water exercise are hindered only by your imagination. With the mention of water aerobics, many people think of choreographed movements taught by an instructor. While true that you can reap the benefits of exercise through this type of workout, it is only one of many water activities. You can just as easily walk the shallow section of a pool from one end to the other to get your physical activity. You might also consider another popular pool pastime: swimming. Even if you haven’t perfected your butterfly or freestyle, you can still get a good workout by doing a few laps of your favorite stroke.

Where to Take Advantage of Water Aerobics

If you have a pool in your backyard, you don’t even have to leave your house to enjoy the benefits of water aerobics. But if a private pool isn’t at your disposal, explore your local recreational center or school. Many public facilities have indoor pools that you can use year-round. So no matter how cold it gets outside, you can still hop into a pool and enjoy your favorite water exercise. Community centers often provide water aerobic classes as well. If the idea of working out alone puts you off exercising entirely, enlist your friends for a class so that you can get your heart rate up and catch up all at the same time.

Weighing Your In-Home Service Choices

Caregiving Staying Put at HomeStaying put at home is an achievable goal, but trying to do it entirely on your own can be a challenge. Friends and family members can be of immense help, yet complications such as distance, work and children may limit their ability to provide continual support. Loved ones may also be ill-equipped to handle serious or complex medical issues. So how can you get the assistance you need when you need it? By taking advantage of professional in-home services.

Skilled Medical Care

Are you recuperating from hip replacement surgery? Has your spouse suffered a stroke? Then you might want skilled medical care. As do other forms of in-home assistance, skilled medical care can go by different names, so be sure to confirm the type of services that an agency provides. Generally, though, a nurse, physician or therapist comes directly to your home to administer medications, dress wounds and perform other skilled medical tasks.

Personal or Home Health Care

You may never need surgery or suffer a stroke. However, chronic conditions can also impede physical and mental capabilities. Multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease are just a few of the conditions that might warrant personal or home health care. As the Alzheimer’s Association notes, agencies offering these services can assist with everyday health and hygiene needs such as grooming, bathing and toileting.

Homemaker or Home Care

Maybe you can look after yourself just fine, but you wouldn’t mind getting a little help around the house. If arthritis makes doing the dishes difficult, or poor vision prevents you from driving to and from the grocery store, you can hire a professional home care aide to assist with your household needs. Homemaker care services can even cook your meals so that you have more time to rest or enjoy your hobbies.

Companion Care

Speaking of hobbies… Do you wish you had a rummy partner? Or perhaps you would like an attendant to stay with your spouse while you go to the store? When the very presence of another person is the most important consideration, companion care might be the service you seek. As its name denotes, companion care allows recipients to spend time with attentive, nurturing professionals and provides families the chance to attend to other home and work obligations.

What are your in-home service experiences? Tell us about them in our comments section.

Arthritis-Friendly Exercise: Tai Chi

Pain Relief Staying Put at HomeA healthy lifestyle is essential to aging in place. Especially when arthritis brings on stiffness and pain, it becomes all the more important to take care of your physical wellbeing. Exercise in particular can defend againt joint discomfort and deterioration.

But to reap the rewards of working out, you have to keep at it. And if you’re going to keep at it, you should enjoy it. While walking is probably the most recommended form of exercise for arthritis sufferers, it might not be the right activity for you. Perhaps you bore easily when walking through your neighborhood, or maybe you would rather not go outside if the sidewalks are wet or icy.

Last month, Staying Put at Home began our “Arthritis-Friendly Exercise” series, introducing seniors to activities that can ease joint inflammation. The impact that working out can have on arthritis is considerable, and making it a part of your life could prove instrumental for remaining safe and independent in your home. Today, we take a look at tai chi, a practice that promotes both physical health and mental wellness.

What is tai chi?

Many people associate exercise with speed, sweat and pain. Tai chi takes a different approach. Movement is slow and rhythmic. Breathing is calm and deliberate. Exhaustion is not the goal; rather, tai chi aims toward revitalization. To reach this objective, students engage in a fluid series of motions. When done on a regular basis, this type of activity can improve strength, stamina and balance. National Institutes of Health notes that because tai chi focuses on thoughtful movement, it also offers meditative benefits, which can ease stress and anxiety.

How does tai chi ease arthritis pain?

In a joint, cartilage acts as a buffer that separates bone from bone, and synovial fluid helps to facilitate gliding motion between them. But if cartilage becomes brittle, or if synovial fluid thickens, it can hinder joint movement. Exercise can encourage synovial fluid distribution and cartilage resilience, though, and key to easing your arthritis pain is choosing the right kind of exercise. Sports like tennis and running can be good for overall health, but because of the force you may be putting on your joints, they might acerbate arthritis pain. However, tai chi is considered a low-impact activity, making it an ideal way to foster joint health.

Where can you do tai chi?

Yet another reason why tai chi makes an ideal workout option is because it can be done virtually anywhere. As with many forms of exercise, learning proper tai chi techniques can help to ensure that you get the most out of your practice and minimize your risk of injury. So before trying it on your own, you might want to take a few tai chi classes at your nearest senior center or gym. Starting tai chi with a group can also make it easy to find friends with whom you can later practice outside of class. Even if you choose to continue your tai chi classes, you can do it at home as well. Especially when inclement weather makes it difficult to travel, all you need is a few feet of space to keep up with your exercise routine.

Have you tried tai chi? Tell about why you took up this practice and how it has impacted your joint health in our Staying Put at Home comments section.

Senior-Friendly New Year’s Resolutions That Are Worth the Effort

Staying Put at Home Tips for Senior HealthWhy is the New Year a time of festivity? What makes this occasion one that billions of people celebrate? Though a select few may think of January as just another month on the calendar, many more consider the New Year a new beginning and the chance to realize their life goals. And seniors are no exception.

No matter your age, a new year can provide a starting point for a healthier, safer and more fulfilling future. In fact, setting—and sticking with—your New Year’s resolutions can make the difference between enjoying your senior years in the comfort of your home and having to relocate because of medical needs. Staying Put at Home strives to help every individual who wants to age in place achieve that goal, and our list of senior-friendly New Year’s resolutions can see to it that you get the most out of 2015 and beyond.

Knowing Your Health Numbers

Let’s start with the basics. As the adage goes, knowledge is power. When you know your health numbers, you can make the necessary changes. This information becomes especially important when it concerns your heart and bone health. Hypertension, high cholesterol and osteoporosis typically show no symptoms until a heart attack, stroke or fracture makes their presence known. Only a qualified healthcare provider can assess your health numbers and recommend treatment strategies if a problem is found.

Finding Activities You Love

Working out is not a privilege of only the young. As the National Institutes of Health notes, it is essential to health at every age. So if you don’t exercise, now is the time to start. The benefits of physical activity are seemingly endless—lower blood pressure, better bone density, improved balance and reduced incidence of dementia. Key to reaping these benefits, though, is exercising regularly, so choose an activity you love. You can walk, jog, swim, bike, hike, ski, lift weights… And the New Year is the perfect time to start exploring what interests you the most.

Getting Enough Fruits and Vegetables

Fat, salt and sugar may taste good, but they can lead to serious health issues like obesity, clogged arteries and type 2 diabetes. To protect yourself from these life-threatening conditions, get familiar with the produce section of your local grocery store. Fruits and vegetables should make up at least half of every meal. Like exercise, though, produce doesn’t have to be one size fits all. You have hundreds of options ranging from apples and Brussels sprouts to watermelons and yams to help you become healthier and happier.

Making New Friends

Your emotional happiness can have as much an effect on your health as your physical fitness. Specifically, the social ties you build can lower your stress levels, blood pressure and risk of cognitive decline. If your loved ones live more than a car ride away, though, you can still have an active social life. Communities large and small have senior centers and charities that you can join and support. The Internet too can help you stay in touch with long-distance friends and family through Facebook, Skype and other social media channels.

Fall-Proofing Your Home

One of the most important changes you can implement in 2015 is making fall prevention a top priority. Fall injuries account for thousands of senior lives lost each year, and many more elders must contend with life-altering disabilities. When you eat right and exercise, you can significantly cut your fall risk. However, a few at-home changes, including clearing walkway clutter and securing loose cords, can greatly reduce your chances of suffering a fall accident that puts you in the hospital with a fracture or head injury.

What health and wellness changes do you want to make in 2015? Tell us about your New Year’s resolutions in our comments section.