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The Living With Arthritis Checklist

10 Necessities for Living Well With Arthritis

By

Updated July 28, 2012

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Living with arthritis can be a positive experience -- although challenging at times. To live well with arthritis, you must understand that while arthritis is your reality, you still can have a full, rewarding, and prosperous life. It's not a given that living with arthritis is a bad life.

Use a checklist to help you manage important aspects of living with arthritis. For each item on your personal checklist, periodically assess or rate how you are doing. Here's an example of a checklist -- you can use this one if it works well for you or create your own.

CHECKLIST: Do You Have It or Not?

A Doctor Whom You Trust

Can you think of anything more important than having a doctor you can talk to and trust? If that is the relationship you have carved out with your doctor - one that's based on communication and trust - you are on your way to living well with arthritis.

A Treatment Plan With Which You Are Fully Compliant

You can have the most communicative, trustworthy doctor in the world, but if you fail to be compliant with your treatment plan, expect no benefit from it. The doctor must be able to trust you, just as you trust him. You must be honest about taking medications as prescribed and being committed to all aspects of your treatment (e.g. exercise and physical therapy). Your doctor's job is to guide you down the right path, and your job is to follow that path.

A Healthy Lifestyle -- Including Exercise, Eating Well, and Sleeping Well

It's purely logical that a healthy lifestyle will promote better overall health and better disease management. Good nutrition, building your strength and stamina, and being well-rested are all essential to living well with arthritis.

Unshakable Perseverance

It's the "never going to give up" spirit -- you will always find a way; you will overcome. Throughout your lifetime of living with arthritis, that spirit will carry you through many difficult moments. Perseverance will block negative thinking and intrusive emotions that can interfere with getting through each day in a positive way.

A Manageable and Accessible Environment at Home

Is your home set up so that you can manage usual daily activities? Is there anything you need in your home that would make daily activities easier? Consider both your needs and what's available to you, and create a match. Work towards improving your environment to make things easier and to compensate for your physical limitations.

A Manageable and Accessible Environment at Work

The qualifications here are essentially the same as above, just within the workplace setting instead of at home. Are your needs met so you can function well at work and be productive? Is there room for improvement in your work environment?

Time for Yourself to Decompress

Arthritis can be stressful, to say the least. Chronic, daily pain, more than you may have ever imagined -- it takes a toll. To reverse that burden, you need to take time to decompress. How that's accomplished is up to you. It can mean reading a book to one person or a motorcycle ride to another. Whatever clears your mind and allows you to relax, do it on a regular basis. As needed is the key!

Someone to Turn to for Emotional Support

Sometimes decompressing by yourself isn't enough, and you may need someone who genuinely understands what you are going through. Do you have someone like that in your life? I call them your "go-to person" -- the person you go to when you just need to be heard, and someone whom you find comforting.

The Mindset That "Feeling Sorry for Yourself" Isn't an Option

Maybe for a split second, on occasion, feeling sorry for yourself wouldn't be too damaging. But never let it become a way of life. Replace those thoughts with a forward-thinking, optimistic, solution-based mindset.

A Hopeful Attitude for the Future

There must always be hope that things will get better. Of course, there is a range of what we mean by "get better" -- from a day without pain to a cure for arthritis. But remaining hopeful is a big part of living well with arthritis.

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