How to Support Clients With Arthritis After You Become a Healthcare Assistant

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Living with arthritis comes with certain challenges and difficulties. Arthritis is a medical condition that affects the joints of each client differently, with the primary symptoms including pain, stiffness, decreased muscle strength, and a reduction in functional mobility. The symptoms affecting a client can vary from one day to the next, with this unpredictability making the condition difficult to treat. 

The practical training acquired by a healthcare assistant will go a long way towards offering the level of care and attention required to manage the various components of the condition’s process. To understand more about arthritis and the best ways to assist someone living with this medical condition, let’s take a closer look.

Take the Time to Understand the Condition

In order to offer adequate care to a client suffering from any type of illness, it’s important for those with healthcare assistant training to first get a handle on what they’re dealing with. There are over 100 types of arthritis and related conditions, with doctors often categorizing the joint pain as either inflammatory—as we see in rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and ankylosing spondylitis—or non-inflammatory, as we see with the wear and tear conditions of osteoarthritis and back pain. 

Depending on which type of arthritis your client has, they may have trouble performing tasks requiring the use of their hands, arms, or legs. Your client may experience difficulty walking up the stairs, opening bottles, or forming enough grip to pick up even the lightest of objects. Able to move around freely one day, they may be completely immobile the next. Understanding exactly which type of arthritis your client has, the level of pain they may experience, and how their condition impacts their personal levels of mobility will help you to look out for situations day to day where they’ll need you the most.

How Those with Healthcare Assistant Training Should Communicate with the Client

Becoming a trusted assistant to someone living with arthritis requires effective communication. Anyone who wants to become a healthcare assistant should understand that compassion comes first in this role. Part of being compassionate is taking the time to understand exactly how the client is feeling about their condition, and how they feel about needing care and intervention.

Pain, loss of mobility, and needing help because of it can lead to frustration and mood swings. The role of the healthcare assistant is to offer the right balance of motivation and support without causing a loss of dignity to the client. To strike that balance, it’s best to keep the lines of communication as open as possible. 

Understand that the client will feel quite different from one day to the next, depending on the severity of the symptoms. Be patient with their need to remain as independent as possible, and learn how to recognize when to step in and when to stand back. Make sure it’s clear that they should ask for help when it’s needed. On some days, the best care will come in the form of moral support, simply listening to how the client feels and letting them vent.

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Sometimes the best support is just lending an ear and offering good company to the client

Offer Help with the Practical Means of Treatment

There are several ways to help manage the symptoms of arthritis, usually including some combination of drugs, exercise, diet, lifestyle changes, and the mental ability to cope. The client may need help handling medication, such as opening bottles, holding pills, and making sure doses are accurate. They will often need help with assisted devices, such as walkers, canes, and wheelchairs. Healthcare assistants can also be a huge motivational support at exercise time, which may seem unmanageable for clients living with pain, but should be encouraged within reason due to the many benefits physical activity can have for lubricating joints and improving mobility. The carer can gently motivate with words, but can even take it a step further by participating in the exercise.

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Exercise has been proven to be beneficial for people living with arthritis and should be encouraged

Assisting someone living with arthritis can be a challenging undertaking, but those who take the time to understand the best ways to manage the condition according to their client’s individual needs can make a truly positive difference to that person’s quality of life.

Think you have what it takes to pursue a career in health by earning a healthcare assistant diploma?

Check out Discovery Community College’s healthcare assistant program to learn more!