Psoriatic Arthritis Update | Six Weeks on Methotrexate
Parenting With Psoriatic Arthritis: What You Need to Know
Having psoriatic arthritis can impact every aspect of your life, including raising kids and grandkids. Here’s how you can cope.
By Julie Marks
Medically Reviewed by Sanjai Sinha, MD
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Taking care of children requires patience, energy, and dedication. If you’re a parent or grandparent living with psoriatic arthritis, you might experience more challenges than most.
“I never get enough sleep anymore,” says Brenna Poole-Kamas, 35, who has psoriatic arthritis and is the mom of a 21-month-old girl. “Prior to having my child, I needed to sleep 10 or 12 hours a day in order function. Now, I don’t have that option.”
Poole-Kamas, who also suffers from ankylosing spondylitis — a form of inflammatory arthritis that affects the spine and other joints — deals with a variety of symptoms, including swelling, pain, skin rashes, chronic fatigue, and nausea.
Like many parents, she’s had to find ways to manage her illness so she can better care for her child.
Understanding the Fatigue
Chronic fatigue is one of the most difficult symptoms to deal with when it comes to parenting with psoriatic arthritis.
“Some people with active psoriatic arthritis may be totally exhausted to the point of being completely incapacitated,” says Richard Brasington, MD, a rheumatologist at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
Dr. Brasington suggests a good first step is to try to explain to your child why you’re so tired, if she’s old enough to understand. This is usually better than just attempting to push through your fatigue, hoping that kids won’t notice.
“Children might not realize that their parents have limitations, so they expect us to do anything,” Brasington says.
5 Tips for Coping
If you’re a parent, grandparent, or other caregiver with psoriatic arthritis, try these coping strategies:
- Get enough rest.Aim for at least eight hours of sleep a night, and when you’re feeling tired, stop what you’re doing and take a break. “I always tell my patients the only treatment for fatigue is rest,” Brasington says. If you’re caring for a baby, it’s especially important to nap when the baby does.
- Exercise.Several studies, including research published in March 2014 in theBritish Journal of Dermatology, have shown that physical activity may improve symptoms of psoriatic arthritis. Try to squeeze in some form of exercise daily. Biking, swimming, and walking are good options for enhancing range of motion.
- Ask for help.You’ll probably need to identify people who can step in and help when you’re not feeling well. Friends, relatives, or even paid professionals are all good options. Attending a support group is another possibility.
- Take your meds.Keeping up with your medication schedule is essential to managing your symptoms. “I take pain medication in order to function,” says Poole-Kamas, who is a stay-at-home mom in University Place, Washington. “Without it, I honestly don’t know if I could care for my child.”
- Don’t push your limits.Sometimes you’ll need to pass on certain opportunities if you aren’t feeling well. You may miss out on the fun, but it’s important to listen to your body. “Things that most of us really wouldn’t think twice about doing, for them, can be really difficult,” Brasington says.
Stop the Guilt
Many parents and grandparents feel regretful about not being able to participate in certain activities.
“Mom guilt is a biggie,” Poole-Kamas says. “I can’t do as much as I’d like to when it comes to interacting with my little one.”
Brasington says it’s important to let those feelings go. “I can’t tell you how many times people tell me that their children don’t understand when they can’t do something and they are heartbroken about it,” he says.
Continue to explain your limitations, and try to keep a positive outlook. Remember that prioritizing your health is going to make you a better caregiver in the end.
“Taking care of yourself is the most important thing of all,” Poole-Kamas says.
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