Community Blog

Caring for a Loved One With Rheumatoid Arthritis

By Michael Hagman, RN, BSN

Elder Care in Clancy MT

Unlike osteoarthritis which is caused by the wearing down and damage to the joints over time, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation when the immune system attacks its own tissues. Rheumatoid arthritis can often cause swelling and joint pain as well as damage to other parts of the body such as skin, eyes, heart, and lungs. If you are a caregiver for an elderly loved one with rheumatoid arthritis, you know how painful this condition can be. It is always a good idea to follow through with the treatment plan outlined by your loved one’s doctor and encourage them to take all medications as directed. In addition, there are several other things you can do as a caregiver to help your loved one to manage their rheumatoid arthritis at home and have good quality of life. Here are just a few of them:

Encourage Gentle Exercise

As long as it has been approved by your loved one’s doctor, regular exercise can be a great way for your loved one to manage rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. Exercise should not cause pain, however, and it should always be gentle and low impact. Some great exercises for your loved one to try include swimming, walking, or water aerobics.

Try Warm or Cold Compresses

The pain from rheumatoid arthritis can prevent your loved one from doing the things that they enjoy. One way to relieve the pain and relax the muscles is applying heat or cold. Encourage your loved one to try using a heating pad to relax tense muscles or an ice pack to dull or numb joint pain.

Reduce Stress

For your loved one, pain can lead to stress and stress can lead to more pain, causing a cycle that is hard to break. Encourage your loved one to try some stress-relieving techniques to see if they have an effect on the pain. In addition, stress-relieving techniques can help your loved one to also cope with the anxiety and depression that can sometimes accompany rheumatoid arthritis. Suggest some relaxing activities such as reading, listening to music, deep breathing, meditation, visualization, or exercising.


Rheumatoid arthritis often causes fatigue or muscle weakness. Encourage your loved one to take breaks during the day and take naps if needed. This will lessen the stress on the body which can sometimes lead to pain.


If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring elder care in Clancy, MT, contact the caring staff at Home Helpers. Call today (406) 438-2231.