Arthritis Prevention Tips for Seniors

As you grow older, the likelihood of developing arthritis increases.

More than 50 million adults in the United States have arthritis, with many older adults being affected by this complex disease. In fact, nearly half of adults age 65 years or older have arthritis.

There are many different types of arthritis, but among seniors, the most common type is Osteoarthritis, which is a deterioration of the cartilage that cushions the bones as they move around a joint. OA can cause stiffness and mild pain in your hands, neck, lower back, knees and hips.

While some risk factors, like age and heredity, cannot be changed, you do have control over other factors, such as excess weight and lack of physical activity, which make you more susceptible to developing arthritis. Research shows that light exercise and weight management is beneficial for the prevention of arthritis because it helps to build strength, fight fatigue and decrease pain in the joints. Moderate range-of-motion, strengthening and aerobic exercises are just a few of the activities that can help prevent arthritis.

In addition to physical activity, eating a well-balanced diet and learning the right way to use and protect your joints are essential for living with any kind of arthritis. You can benefit from a diet filled with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and proteins, as well as an adequate daily intake of important nutrients including calcium and vitamins C and D. Staying hydrated is also vital for preventing arthritis and making sure the cartilage in your joints function properly. Maintaining muscle strength, practicing good posture and using proper body mechanics when lifting objects will protect your joints from excess stress.

If you are experiencing pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints, talk to your doctor to find out how to manage the pain and the best treatments or medications for your condition.

Early diagnosis and treatment of arthritis will not only prevent permanent joint damage, but also help you stay physically active for many years to come.

Dr. Marylou Buyse is senior medical director of senior markets for

Highmark Inc.