Wellness & Education

How to Support Someone with Rheumatoid Arthritis 

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is not an easy disease to live with. It affects the joints, which means that it can make every movement painful. People with RA do (or try to do) the same thing as everyone else, but their experience of it can be very different. The chronic pain of RA can lead to feelings of isolation, depression and despair. If you know someone with rheumatoid arthritis, here are 7 tips for helping to make their life a little bit easier:  

  1. Be flexible when making plans. If your friend or loved one is having a bad day, you may have to wait until a good day comes around before doing something together.  
  2. When it’s winter, plan indoor activities, not outdoor ones. RA is more painful in the winter than it is in warmer weather.  
  3. Bring food when visiting, but don’t fix foods with raw eggs or unpasteurized milk or cheese. Some RA drugs can make patients more susceptible to infection, even an infection from foods.  
  4. When buying gifts, look for items that can help make life easier: book stands for reading without having to hold the book, spring-operated scissors, large playing cards, button hooks and long handled shoehorns for dressing, etc.  
  5. Be a good listener and resist the temptation to try to fix the situation. You can’t fix it. You can only show that you care.
  6. Be sure to let them know that you are there for them, whether they just need a friend, or they need hands-on help.  
  7. If they have a caregiver, be sure to extend your support to this person as well. Caregiving can be very draining, so any help you can give the caregiver will support your friend or loved one as well.