How to make mom more comfortable in a bed with bone-on-bone severe arthritis? -

How to make mom more comfortable in a bed with bone-on-bone severe arthritis?


My Mother is 100 years old. Her mind is excellent, but she has severe arthritic pain. She refuses to take anything other than 2 regular tylenol during the evening. She has taken to sleeping on the sofa, with her feet on 2 pillows on the floor. Her feet and legs are swelling as she says it hurts too much to put them up higher. We have tried a lifter chair for her to sleep in, a hospital bed, and now we have a twin bed (from another room, since she got rid of her bed). She still will not sleep in the bed.

The question I have is: Is there a way to make this bed comfortable so that her joints will be cushioned and she can find some relief in the bed? She said she will try to sleep in it if she is not in severe pain, but as of now, all beds cause her to hurt so bad she is unable to sleep.

We are just exploring all alternatives to her sleeping on the sofa as we know that is not good for her legs and feet. She is at home and we have some ladies that come in and take care of her during the day and stay with her during the night. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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Have you tried a recliner chair?
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Sort of depends on which parts are bone-on-bone. You might try a memory-foam mattress topper with a waterproof encasement) with a separate foam triangular wedge. Plus about 5 pillows. She should try sleeping the the wedge under her knees and pillows under her upper back and head, sleeping on her back if she has hip issues. For low back issues, she should try the foam topper plus a pillow between the legs at the knees. Use a very light breathable blanket to avoid weight on the joints. Helped me and might help her. Is she using a walker already?
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Voltaren? I used it and it kind of helped.
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You can now get Epsom Salt Lotion at the drugstore. It is a wonderful anti-inflammatory product. Or just get regular Epsom salts and soak her feet in a warm Epsom salt bath. The magnesium absorbs through the skin and helps the entire body.
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Congratulations to your mother - she sounds like quite a woman to have lived this long and stuck to her convictions of few meds!

These are some suggestions; I don't know if they'd be that helpful for someone of your mother's age, and I would suggest researching them and perhaps discussing them with her orthopedic doctor to ensure that they don't interact with anything else she might be taking.

1. Arnica solutions - creams with arnica (a flower) in them. I used one once but didn't find it as helpful as a muscle cream made by a herbalist who started her own business. I use that cream for every ache and pain imaginable - I love it. It's the best cream I've ever used!

2. Glucosamine chondroitin, either by pill or in a cream/lotion. A GF who was an avid tennis player used the cream for tennis aches.

3. Salmon oil supplements have always provided the best relief for me when I have leg injuries or when arthritis set in. I've been taking them so long, along with fish oil and flaxseed oil supplements, that I don't even remember for sure what arthritic knee pain was like.

4. Arthritis diet - avoid certain triggers and inflammatory foods. I did this years ago, and at this point don't remember for sure what I eliminated but my recollection is spicy foods were at the top of the list. Some of the ingredients were the triggers. On the other hand, capsaicin has been recommended for pain relief. Just be careful of it though, as it contains hot pepper.

5. Warm wax treatments. Both an aunt and cousin used these, recommended by their doctors, for arthritis in their hands. Although it sounds like something from a Vincent price movie or Edgar Allen Poe novel, the wax is just softened enough to provide relief. A special type of machine is used, hands are inserted.

This was several years ago though so the technology of application may have changed. I don't know if it's been adapted for use on the extremities.

6. If she wants to get out, some therapy places have warm pool soaks. It's my understanding the warmth soothes arthritic joints. But the travel to and from as well as getting in the pool may be an issue.

7. I get a lot of information from the magazine Herb Quarterly, then research to verify any recommendations. It's usually carried either in Kroger or Mejier magazine sections, or a good book store might have it. It's available as well by prescription.

8. Last year there was a larger publication on more extensive herbal remedies. I don't recall the publisher, and I wouldn't recommend it if I knew that the publisher wasn't a reliable one, so I'd have to find the publication again. I'm sure there are a lot of books on herbal treatments as well, but I always stick with the standard ones and herbs with which I'm familiar.

What I don't ever use are herbs that are Asian in origin, because I have no confidence in the purity of the sources or the processing.

9. This may be too intense for her, but Tai Chi has been used to encourage gentle, controlled movements as well as mood relaxation and stress relief. The Mayo Clinic has a brief but helpful article on it. Tai Chi is not for everyone, as indicated in the article, and shouldn't be initiated without consulting an ortho doctor. And it can be done sitting down.
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Thanks so much Cwillie. She cannot recline on the sofa. She sits on the sofa with pillows under her feet. I am going to take your advice and recommend the extended release tylenol. With Mom, who has an aversion to medicine, we have to introduce change gradually. She believes she will have every side effect that is listed. (maybe that is what got her to 100 ...101 April 8th. She only started having severe walking issues after her 100th birthday. She walked into the room (with a walker) on her 100th birthday, but the deterioration seemed to have happened quickly after that. So happy she is mentally alert, feisty...but often too much so that it is hard to convince her to make a decision that will work for her. Thanks for your encouraging words.

Are there any specific ointments that have helped your Mom? I can recommend them to the caregivers,
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If she can fully recline on the sofa then she should be able to recline on a bed, so that can not be the issue. What is it about the sofa that she finds more comfortable?? Is it softer, narrower, lower?
Perhaps a softer mattress? I bought a memory foam topper for mom's bed to add a layer of softness, but it does make it harder to move in bed as she sinks into the foam.
If she refuses the stronger pain meds then consider using OTC creams or ointments for painful joints and muscles, the better ones are odourless and mom gets a lot of relief from them. Also the extended release tylenol for arthritis can give longer lasting pain management.
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