Maintaining Hand Health as You Age
A healthy weight, balanced diet, and regular physical fitness can go a long way as you age in lowering risk for heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and so much more. But what about your own hand health? For many older adults and aging seniors, hand health goes under the radar until something painful or limiting develops.
Debilitating hand conditions may include:
Carpal tunnel – the narrowing of the carpal tunnel in the wrist which applies pressure to the median nerve resulting in pain, numbness, and tingling in the hand, fingers, and arm.
– inflammation of one or more joints around the hand and wrist area can cause pain, limit range of motion, and diminish dexterity.
– a locking and popping of one or more fingers in the hand due to inflammation and irritation of the tendons which control movement.
– specifically De Quervain’s Tendinitis, this type of hand ailment precipitates from inflammation of tendons in and around the thumb leading to mild to severe pain.
– aging seniors will see natural changes to their own hand strength including a growing weakness, reduced dexterity, loss of bone density, decreased blood flow, skin discoloration and changes in fingernails, as well as limited pinch and grip strength.
While seeking medical attention from a doctor for any painful or limiting hand condition is important, there are plenty of ways to lower your risk for developing these conditions in the first place. With the right tools and hand exercises, aging adults can strengthen and hone hand flexibility and dexterity better than ever before.
Maintaining Grip Strength
The force with which your hand can pull on or suspend from something you are holding onto it qualifies as your grip strength. Getting older unfortunately means for many losing a certain degree of grip strength (especially for women) which can negatively impact overall living – opening jars and door knobs, or grabbing and picking up items, for example.
Grip strength can be improved by both strengthening muscles in the arm as well as reinforcing critical tendons and ligaments in the hand. Grip enhancing exercise tools may include a simple ‘squeeze and release’ grip strengthener, a resistance squeeze egg or stress ball, and finger strengthening devices.
Honing Finger Flexibility
Stretching the thumb and fingers helps limber up crucial muscles and other connective tissues (tendons, ligaments, etc). More pliability in the hand can prevent joint stiffness and help restore movement and range of motion. Tools to aid hand flexibility and strength include therapy putty and finger hand exercisers.
Therapy putty is essentially a malleable ball of a playdoh-like substance which can be squished, maneuvered, and molded by hand. Finger hand exercise tools on the other hand may include small handheld devices that give a senior practice finger by finger in stretching and pushing down specific keys or buttons. Enhanced finger flexibility also lends itself towards great dexterity, coordination, and fine motor skill practice.
Hand Exercise Aid Recovery Too
The benefits of hand exercises and strengthening activities are not only seen in proactively preventing issues down the line, but also in helping seniors recover from illnesses or conditions that negatively affected the use of their hands.
People who have suffered a stroke often have to undergo physical and occupational therapy to help them recover lost functions. Hand exercises not only strengthen grip, but they improve fine motor function and build confidence. For arthritis sufferers, regaining movement and flexibility in the hand can reduce painful inflammation and make completing even simple day to day tasks easier.
Seniors with mobility issues will discover great aid in hand exercises which help them grip their walkers or canes with more stability and strength than before. And finally, hand exercises that keep fingers strong, wrists pain-free, and hands moving can make aging generally more enjoyable. Being able to stick with hobbies you love like gardening, origami, sewing, knitting, cooking, you name it, makes for greater quality of life and a resounding boost of esteem and independence.