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Arizona – The Healthiest Place for Seniors?

If you want to improve your quality of life and relieve the pain of arthritis while enjoying the natural beauty of the American Southwest, Arizona is the ideal place to live.
Saturday, 08 September 2012

seniors_in_arizonaIf you told the average person from the Northeast or the Midwest that Phoenix Arizona temperatures exceed 100°F an average of 110 days each year, few would be anxious to move there.  That’s probably because excessive heat for the rest of the country feels so different than it does in Arizona.  Phoenix’s climate is typical for the Sonoran Desert, in which it lies, meaning its extremely hot summers and warm winters are not a sign of global warming.  But there is a stark difference between a 110°F day in New York City and a 110°F day in Phoenix Arizona; that’s because Arizona is a dry climate and it just doesn’t feel as uncomfortable.

For the elderly, particularly arthritis sufferers, the subtropical desert climate of Arizona is ideal.  Perhaps this explains the number of seniors who choose Arizona as their retirement home.  But the weather here isn’t always so hot.  Daily high temperatures in the winter range from the mid-50s to the high 70s with only an occasional dip below 40°F. On average, Phoenix has only five days per year where the temperature drops to or below freezingIf you were to ask a newly relocated senior citizen what is so appealing about Arizona, they would probably tell you how much healthier they feel just by living here. Is it just the dry climate, or is something else at work?  Some claim it’s the health benefits that come from sunshine, which at 85% is very much a part of an Arizonan’s daily life.

The basics of treating arthritis

Did you know that one in five adults suffer from some form of arthritis?  That’s more than 46 million people.  Arthritis comes in many forms, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid and juvenile arthritis.  Its most common symptoms are stiffness in the joints, pain, fatigue, and lack of mobility.  For seniors in particular, this disease can make everyday tasks painful or nearly impossible.  Though arthritis can be controlled through a number of different treatments and medications, the climate where the arthritis sufferer lives can make a huge difference in their level of comfort.

Arthritis affects many parts of the body, even the skin and internal organs, but it is most commonly known as the inflammation of the joints.  Most people start noticing arthritis in smaller joints, such as wrists, knees and fingers, but any joint in the body can be affected by arthritis.  When joints become inflamed, it leads to pain, swelling and possibly permanent damage to joint tissue.   The pain and inflammation of arthritis is usually controlled through the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, but other treatments include light to moderate exercise and physical therapy.

While few doctors would tell a patient to move to the Southwest for relief from arthritis, most would agree that this region offers the best chance of long-lasting relief from day to day pain.    According to a study conducted by teams of researchers from Johns Hopkins, rheumatoid arthritis sufferers were adversely affected by high humidity and high barometric pressure.  Osteoarthritis sufferers were affected only by high humidity. Researchers concluded that while the actual course of the disease was not affected by the climate, those living in warm, dry climates had fewer flare ups.  In addition to avoiding the adverse effects of humidity or the stiffness that comes from cold temperatures, seniors who live in Arizona avoid dealing with snow and ice.

Beneficial climates for arthritis

If Arizona or other Southwestern states are out of the question because they are too far away from friends and family, consider becoming a “snowbird” by spending the winter months here.  Many retirees prefer the dry, warm climate of Arizona over the uncomfortable humidity of Florida.  Avoiding the cold and damp weather of the Midwest and Northeast will do wonders for arthritis sufferers.  The most important factor is selecting a place that fits your lifestyle.  The Arthritis Foundation doesn’t recommend moving away from loved ones in favor of a better climate, as this may cause stress that will ultimately exacerbate the pain of arthritis.

If you want to improve your quality of life and relieve the pain of arthritis while enjoying the natural beauty of the American Southwest, Arizona is the ideal place to live.

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