Rheumatoid Arthritis Ra Caregivers

People who care for a person with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) might feel overwhelmed at times. In addition to the physical demands, rheumatoid arthritis caregivers must also deal with doctor appointments, health insurance companies and more. In addition, RA caregivers must also deal with the emotional aspects of their work. Many experience feelings of sadness, guilt or even anger.

While caring for a rheumatoid arthritis patient might seem overwhelming at times, there are a few things you can do to make your job easier. Here are a few tips for caring for a person with rheumatoid arthritis.

Before Your Begin Your Care

Before you offer to care for a person with rheumatoid arthritis, you should make yourself as familiar with the condition as possible. Take the time to research the disease and learn the disease’s symptoms, complications, treatment options and more.

Also, talk to your patient’s health care provider about their particular condition. Learn the symptoms from which your patient suffers and the severity of your patient’s RA. Having this basic knowledge will make you a better and more informed caregiver.

Before you begin offering care, you should also make up a list of your patient’s needs. While this list should include needs related to rheumatoid arthritis, it should also include needs related to your patient’s everyday life. For example, will you need to do your patient’s grocery shopping or drive him or her to and from work? Sit down with your patient and talk to him or her in order to create this list.

General Health Concerns

When caring for a person with rheumatoid arthritis, you will need to be concerned with their general health. If your patient maintains good general health, RA symptoms are likely to be less severe. Here’s a guideline for monitoring basic health issues:

  • Discuss your patient’s symptoms with his or her doctor at least once a year. This will help you determine if your patient’s RA is improving or declining.
  • Have your patient see a psychologist at least once a year for evaluation. This can help spot emotional issues that your patient might be unwilling to discuss with you or others.
  • Make sure your patient gets a physical exam at least once a year. This exam should include routine cancer screenings, including mammograms and Pap smears for women and prostate and rectal exams for men.

Daily Concerns

In addition to the above-mentioned yearly evaluations, you will need to monitor some issues on a daily basis. These include:

  • Daily Activities: How much assistance do you have to provide your patient when they perform such daily activities as eating, dressing, cooking, etc.? If the degree to which you need to help your patient changes suddenly or drastically, consult his or her physician.
  • Mobility: How mobile is your patient? Is he or she able to move around the house and community? Is he or she able to operate a car? If your patient is having problems moving around, a doctor might be able to provide helpful equipment, such as braces, canes or wheelchairs.

Taking Care of Yourself

In order to provide good care to your patient, you must take care of yourself, both mentally and physically. Take some time each day to do something you enjoy, even if you are only able to close your eyes and relax for 10 minutes. Also, consult a doctor or therapist if you are experiencing any symptoms of depression.

Remember that it’s okay to ask for help. Look in to getting an in-home nurse, if necessary. Also, ask your patient’s doctor for information on RA caregiver support groups.

Resources

All About Arthritis.com. Become a Better Arthritis Caregiver: Educate Yourself about Arthritis. Retrieved June 21, 2007, from the All About Arthirtis.com Web site: http://www.allaboutarthritis.com/AllAboutArthritis/layoutTemplates/html/en/contentdisplay/document/condition/arthritis/generalArticle/caregiver_education.htm.

All About Arthritis.com. Your Role as an Arthritis Caregiver. Retrieved June 21, 2007, from the All About Arthritis.com Web site: http://www.allaboutarthritis.com/AllAboutArthritis/layoutTemplates/html/en/contentdisplay/document/condition/arthritis/clinicalArticle/caregiver_role.htm.