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Top Tips for Managing Arthritis Flares During the Holiday Season

By Erik Gans, 9:00 am on

While arthritis medication can ease the symptoms of the disease, a sudden surge in inflammation can increase symptoms like joint pain, swelling, and fatigue. Flare-ups may last anywhere from a few days to months, and the holiday season often comes with triggers like stress and a lack of sleep that may leave seniors unable to enjoy time with loved ones. Here are some tips from Home Care Assistance of Fairfield for managing flares during the holidays to share with your senior loved one so he or she can focus on what matters. 

1. Ask for help with holiday tasks

Friends and family may not realize just how much stress affects arthritis. Be sure to let your loved ones know that you may need help with specific tasks or if you would prefer to skip or change especially stressful traditions. 

2. Watch for trigger foods

For many, the holiday season is a time of over-indulgence. Be sure to pay attention to what you eat to avoid foods that trigger arthritis symptoms. Because everyone has their own triggers, try tracking which foods worsen your symptoms. Common trigger foods include dairy, excessive sugar, and gluten, as many people with rheumatoid arthritis also have celiac disease. If you’re having a potluck dinner, ask about the ingredients. 

3. Balance activity with rest

Preparing for the holidays may make you feel like you need to be productive and work hard to get everything ready but too much activity can cause a serious flare in symptoms. Try to intersperse rest with activity to keep your joints from becoming stiff and reduce stress on your body. Think of it as budgeting your energy. 

4. Say no when you must

Don’t be afraid to speak up and say you aren’t up to holiday traditions or activities that are too stressful. Set boundaries with your loved ones and give yourself permission to do less to avoid the effects of stress. 

5. Get enough sleep

Arthritis can make sleep difficult as the pain may affect your ability to fall asleep at night. The stress of preparing for a holiday gathering can easily exacerbate the problem. Research has found that RA patients who don’t get enough sleep get stuck in a vicious cycle in which the poor sleep worsens the pain and decreases joint function. You may find it helpful to take a hot shower before bed to relax your joints and muscles. An electric blanket may also help.

If you or a senior loved one could use additional help with everyday tasks during the holiday season or regularly throughout the year, don’t hesitate to reach out to Home Care Assistance. We provide respite, hourly, and live-in care Fairfield families count on for the additional support their senior loved ones need. Learn more by calling 203-955-1915 and speaking with a friendly Care Manager today.