About 54.4 million American adults have been diagnosed with some type of arthritis (painful joint inflammation and stiffness), according to the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Vital Signs Report. That breaks down to about one in four adults in the nation.
According to the CDC, arthritis limits daily activities of 24 million adults in the United States, making it hard for them to hold a cup, lift a grocery bag, or walk to their car. And, the percentage of adults limited by arthritis continues to get worse and has increased by about 20 percent since 2002.
Overall, arthritis—a condition that can result in pain, aching, stiffness, and swelling of the joints—is at an all-time high. More than 54 million adults in the US have it and almost 60 percent, or about 32 million, of those with arthritis are of working age (ages 18-64).
This is a big deal since with age arthritis will create problems with a person’s ability to do normal activities-of-daily living (ADL’s). Arthritis is one of the major reason a person may require long-term care. That can cause a substantial impact on a family’s assets since most long-term care is not covered by health insurance, Medicare or Medicare Supplements. Unless a person has Long-Term Care Insurance, the cost will impact savings and causes a tremendous burden on family members.
“Arthritis symptoms keep millions of Americans from living life to the fullest. Doctors and loved ones can help people with arthritis by encouraging them to be as physically active as they can be. Physical activity is a proven strategy to ease pain and reduce symptoms among people with arthritis,” said Anne Schuchat, MD – Acting Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Speaking to CNN, Dr. Schuchat said that this is not your mother's arthritis.
"Contrary to popular opinion, it is not an old person's disease," said Dr. Schuchat.
Symptoms can be reduced with physical activity and educational programs. When people with arthritis engage in physical activity they can reduce their arthritis symptoms by up to 40 percent. Adults with arthritis also can reduce their symptoms by participating in disease management education programs.
“The impact of arthritis on disability, health and long term care need is significant,” said Jesse Slome, executive director for the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI).
“The economic burden of musculoskeletal disease in the oldest old is potentially huge and its management presents a major challenge to American families,” Slome notes.
What can you do? A Mediterranean diet may help. According to the Arthritis Foundation, not only can the Mediterranean diet benefit your joints and curb inflammation, but it can also lower blood pressure, protect against many chronic conditions ranging from cancer to stroke, benefit your heart, and lead to weight loss, which in turn is of great benefit in managing joint pain.
The CDC says arthritis is a large and growing clinical and public health problem. It impacts a person’s ability to do normal activities, younger people are being impacted, and the impact on a person increases with age causing disability and the need for long-term care.
Many financial experts point out this is another reason for advance planning for long-term care. Since normal health insurance or Medicare will not pay for any custodial care (help with ADL’s) the cost comes out-of-pocket unless you have Long-Term Care Insurance. However, a person must health qualify for these type of plans so experts recommend obtaining coverage younger, before retirement.