HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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condition such as arthritis. Finding a professional therapist, health psychologist or specialist trained in managing arthritic conditions can help you deal with arthritis and assist you in keeping a positive physical, emotional and spiritual outlook on life.


Support groups are great places to learn new ways of dealing with this disease. You can talk about problems you’re facing with others who may have the same challenges and get their advice, understanding and support. They can also offer tips that have helped them handle similar issues and let you know you’re not alone with this disease.


Coping with arthritis and the way it affects your lifestyle and relationships is very important for designing a healthy management plan for your condition. Joint pain is manageable and there are many steps you can take that will make living with arthritis easier. Make sure you give your emotional health as much care and attention as your physical symptoms when coping with arthritis.


Sources and Resources


With aging comes several unexpected life challenges. Among them is the onset of various forms of joint pain and irritation. Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints. It can affect one or multiple joints. There are different types of arthritis. Two of the most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.


Osteoarthritis often starts with aging joints, injury and/or obesity. The symptoms usually develop over time, but they may also appear suddenly. Arthritis is most commonly seen in senior adults, but it can also develop in children, teens and younger adults. Arthritis is more common in women than men and in people who are overweight.


Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease. The immune system attacks healthy cells in the body by mistake, causing inflammation and painful swelling in the affected parts of the body. Rheumatoid arthritis mainly attacks the joints, usually many of them at once. The symptoms for this disease usually include joint pain and stiffness. Treatment depends on the affected joint and involves medication, physical and occupational therapy, regular exercise and, in some cases, surgery.


With the onset and continued presence of arthritis, pain and fatigue may become a part of each day. The disease can also affect how the body looks, which may make you feel self-conscious. Over time, the symptoms can make someone feel frustrated, angry, anxious and,

THE CHALLENGES OF COPING WITH ARTHRITIS

at times, depressed. When these reactions occur, they can worsen symptoms. Therefore, managing arthritis becomes critical for enjoying life with this chronic condition. Work with your family physician or rheumatologist and others including caregivers to manage arthritis.


There are other ways to cope with the challenge of arthritis. Consider wearing supportive flat, flexible shoes. This is an especially important modification for people who experience arthritis in the knees and hips. Daily tasks such as dressing, cooking and opening doors can be difficult for people with arthritis. Fortunately, there are many products available to aid arthritis sufferers with those tasks. Explore special tools such as dressing sticks, sock aids, long-handled sponges, zipper pulls, buttoning aids, leg lifters, reaching tools, shower/tub bars and handrails and adjustable-height chairs and desks to make life with arthritis easier.


The most important step you can take is to get help as soon as you feel arthritis is becoming a challenge to your mental health. There are many kinds of support that provide assistance in finding ways to manage the stress of living with a chronic

DR. THOMAS W. MILLER, PH.D, ABPP



Thomas W. Miller, Ph.D., ABPP, is a professor emeritus and senior research scientist, Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention, University of Connecticut; retired service chief from the VA Medical Center; and tenured professor in the Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Kentucky.