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Taking Care Of A Family Member With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Family members of RA need to understand that RA is a disease in which the patients capabilities can become compromised.

Taking Care Of A Family Member With Rheumatoid Arthritis

Family members should treat RA patients with a positive attitude

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a long-term, progressive and disabling autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system attacks protective lining of the joints. The disease causes inflammation, swelling, pain in and around the joints. Taking care of a family member with RA can be a difficult job. It may require the family members to take care of the RA patient day and night. It can be stressful and debilitating. Family members of an RA patient need to take care of themselves and ensure that the patient does not feel any different from the rest of the family.

I am sharing tips on how one can take care of a family member with RA:

Sharing responsibilities 


Family members of RA need to understand that RA is a disease in which the patients capabilities can become compromised. They should not expect anything from the patient like they can function quickly or as strong as someone who does not have RA. 

As we know that RA worsens early in morning. Morning stiffness is one of the top symptoms of RA. It takes around an hour or two for an RA patient to begin to function properly because of morning stiffness. As a family member it is important to cooperate with the patient.

Family members should treat RA patients with a positive attitude. As a doctor, we try to boost the morale of patients by telling them that the condition can be treated and that s/he will be fine soon."

Dr. Sarvajeet Pal

Dr Sarvajeet Pal, President, Rheumatology Association Hyderabad; Director, Advance Rheumatology Center Hyderabad

Family members should be cooperative and encouraging in terms of taking care of RA patient. It is important to ensure that the patient does not feel neglected or not at par with the rest of the family. 

In case of bone deformities and other complications associated with RA, family members should be aware of these and avoid any adverse reaction to it. If the RA patient is a dependent, family members should take care of their diet and exercise. Immunity of patients should not be compromised. Take care of them with love, care and positivity. 

Help destress

Family members should treat RA patients with a positive attitude. As a doctor, we try to boost the morale of patients by telling them that the condition can be treated and that s/he will be fine soon. Family members should not ask RA patient again and again if he or she is feeling fine or not. 

Members can also gift books on yoga, meditation or motivational books to RA patients to impart positive thoughts in them. Family should serve immunity boosting foods to patients to help them feel stronger and less sick. 

Learn ways to ease pain

The caretakers should learn exercises that RA patients need to do regularly. These exercises can help in reducing pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis. Regular exercise facilitates good blood circulation and also prevents bone deformities. Yoga and regular physiotherapy can help in reducing pain. 

Take care of your own self

The people taking care of a person with rheumatoid arthritis should try to stay positive and not ask the patient again and again about how they're feeling. Never remind the patient that they are having the disease. The aim should be to try to make the patient forget about their condition. 

(Dr Sarvajeet Pal, Senior Consultant Rheumatologist; President, Rheumatology Association Hyderabad; Director, Advance Rheumatology Center Hyderabad)

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