The cause, or causes, of rheumatoid arthritis is not yet known. It can effect both men and women, although research seems to show that women are more likely to develop the disease at an earlier age (commonly between ages 30 – 60). Men appear to develop the disease at a more advanced age. There is no known cure for this chronic disease.

Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis vary on an individual basis, and can change daily. Your elderly parents may experience joint inflammation, where the effected area feels warm to the touch. Certainly there may be a decreased range of motion, along with swelling and pain, in the areas around the effected joints. Unfortunately for sufferers, when rheumatoid arthritis attacks one joint, it also attacks the corresponding joint on the other side of the body. An elder is likely to feel fatigued, experience a loss of appetite and possibly become anemic. This is because the disease is not isolated in specific joints. Rather, it is systemic throughout the body. Seniors may also run a temperature, which is caused by the low-grade fever running through the body.

Most people with rheumatoid arthritis experience intermittent bouts of intense disease activity, called flares. Some may benefit from long periods of remission with no disease activity or symptoms. In others, the disease is continuously active and gets worse over time. Evidence shows that early diagnosis, combined with early and aggressive treatment to put the disease into remission is the best means of avoiding joint destruction, organ damage and disability.

– John D. Miller is the owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: ; or online at: