6 Tips For Managing Arthritis When Taking Care Of Children – Flexiseq

6 Tips For Managing Arthritis When Taking Care Of Children

If you have arthritis, you know how challenging it can be to cope with joint pain and stiffness. If you also have children or grandchildren to take care of, you may face additional difficulties and stress.

“Someone with osteoarthritis may find themself as a new parent with a baby,” says Dr LS Wang, an internationally published, award-winning, double-fellowship-trained Orthopaedic Surgeon. “The physical demands of carrying and caring for a newborn can be challenging, especially if it’s coupled with joint pain. Alternatively, they could be grandparents who frequently babysit or care for their grandchildren. These children can range from toddlers who need constant attention and physical engagement to older children who require much lesser interactions but still demand a level of activity and vigilance.”

Whatever your situation, it is important to acknowledge your own needs and take care of yourself when caring for others. You may want to talk to your family, friends or healthcare provider about how arthritis affects your ability to care for children and what kind of support you may need.

Whether you are a parent, grandparent or caregiver, here are some tips to help you manage your arthritis while taking care of children.

1. Tips for holding or carrying children when you have joint pain

Holding or carrying children can put a lot of strain on your joints, especially if you have arthritis in your hands, wrists, shoulders or hips. Dr Wang has these tips for lessening joint pain when doing this:

  • Baby carriers or slings: Distributes the weight of the baby more evenly across your body, reducing strains on specific joints. These tools should provide both comfort and support.

  • Seated holding: Holding the child/baby while seated can help reduce the load on your joints.

  • Shift positions regularly: Changing your position and shifting the child’s weight or alternating between holding and using a carrier can provide your joints and muscles with some relief. Changing it up can also prevent over-stressing a single joint.

  • Use a stroller, wagon or cart to transport the child when walking long distances or outdoors.

  • Use pillows, cushions or blankets to support the child when holding them on your lap or in your arms.

  • Avoid lifting the child from the floor or a low chair. Instead, ask them to climb onto a higher surface or use a step stool with your support if needed.

  • Avoid twisting or bending your back when lifting the child. Instead, keep your back straight and use your legs to lift.

2. Tips for playing with kids when you have arthritis

Playing with kids can be fun and rewarding, but it can also be tiring and painful if you have arthritis.

“Low-impact activities are recommended!” says Dr Wang. “Gentle walks outdoors, board games and puzzles can help provide some stimulation for the child, while at the same time allowing you to get more rest, or enjoy some scenery without stressing your joints out too much. Reading or crafting stories together is also a good way to bond without aggravating your arthritis! Pick activities that are enjoyable for both of you, but are kind to your joints and your body.”

Here are some suggestions for playing with kids when you have joint pain:

  • Go for a walk that you can turn into a treasure hunt, scavenger hunt or nature exploration.

  • Play board games, card games, puzzles or crafts that don’t require much physical movement but stimulate the mind and creativity.

  • Read books, tell stories or watch movies that spark the imagination and foster communication.

  • Listen to music, sing songs or play instruments that enhance the mood and express emotions.

  • Do gentle exercises, stretches or yoga that improve flexibility and strength.

3. Plan ahead

When you have kids with you, life can be go-go-go - which is not ideal if you need to juggle them and your pain. Dr Wang recommends:

  • Meal prepping: Prepare simple meals ahead of time as this greatly reduces the amount of time spent standing in the kitchen and the associated stress on your joints.

  • Rest Periods: Schedule rest periods. Such activities can coincide with nap times or quiet activities like reading, which require less physical strain and effort.

  • Living space: Keep your living space organised and your essentials, like your keys, wallet, phone and bags, in places that can be easily reached. This minimises the extremities of movements like bending and reaching, which can potentially strain your joints. Cook large batches of food that can be frozen and reheated later.

4. Find ways of making simple tasks easier

Some simple tasks can become harder when you have arthritis and children to look after.

“Thankfully, there are aids that can help make day-to-day tasks less challenging for those with arthritis,” says Dr Wang. “For example, buckle helpers can aid in fastening seat belts by providing an extended reach and a larger gripping surface. Teaching your children to fasten their own seat belts can also be a good long-term solution.”

You can also:

  • Use Velcro straps, slip-on shoes or elastic laces instead of buttons, zippers or regular laces.

  • Use electric toothbrushes instead of a manual one, electric nail clippers instead of manual ones or hair dryers instead of a towel.

  • Use voice-activated devices, apps or timers to remind you of appointments, medications or chores.

  • Use ergonomic tools, utensils or gadgets that are designed to reduce strain on your joints.

5. Ask for help

It can be hard to take care of yourself at times, let alone a child at the same time. We all need a bit of extra help, but it can be daunting to reach out for it. Here are some of Dr Wang’s suggestions.

  • Playdates: Arrange for playdates with other parents! This creates a chance for you to rest and seek help easily when necessary as the kids enjoy playing with their friends.

  • Family help: Enlist the help of family members where possible. This can provide respite when your joint pain flares up. They can also assist with physical tasks and share the load of childcare.

  • Professional Help: Seek professional help like a babysitter or a daycare service, particularly during periods when your joint pain is more severe.

6. Take care of yourself

Caring for children is rewarding, but it can also be exhausting.

“Caring for your child or grandchild is highly important, but your health comes first!” says Dr Wang. Here are some of our tips for prioritising your health.

  • Get enough sleep and rest. Try to stick to a regular bedtime routine and avoid caffeine, alcohol and screens before bed.

  • Manage your stress levels. Try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation or mindfulness. You can also do hobbies that make you happy such as reading, gardening or knitting.

  • Eat well and stay hydrated. Choose foods that are rich in antioxidants such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium, iron, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, copper, manganese and vitamin K2 . These nutrients can help reduce inflammation, support bone health, boost immunity, prevent anaemia, protect cartilage, improve mood, and prevent infections.

  • Exercise regularly but moderately. Physical activity can help improve your joint mobility, muscle strength, balance, posture, cardiovascular health, and mental health. However, don’t overdo it as this can worsen your pain and inflammation. Aim for at least 150 minutes in total of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week (such as brisk walking, cycling, swimming ) and do some strength training exercises twice a week (such as lifting weights, using resistance bands and doing bodyweight exercises ). You can also do some flexibility exercises daily (such as stretching, yoga and tai chi ). Listen to your body and adjust your intensity level according to how you feel.

Do you have any other tips on how to care for children when you have arthritis? Let us know on Facebook.

Previous Post
Next Post

News from flexiseq

The personal information you are providing will help us to deliver, develop and promote Flexiseq products. Submitting your details indicates that you have read and agreed to our privacy and cookie policy. You can read our policies here.