This is What Arthritis Looks Like

Merle Edwards is an 83-year-old widow who lives in Auckland. After her brother had a bad fall, Merle developed a fear of going walking, doing gardening, attending dancing classes, and anything that posed a risk of a fall.

Merle has Osteoarthritis in her hands, neck and knees. Fortunately, she phoned Arthritis New Zealand’s 0800 line to see if she could get some help.

After speaking to an Arthritis Educator, Merle felt optimistic that she could improve her symptoms.

“I learned that I can manage pain through exercise, pacing physical activities, using heat for pain relief, and improving my diet.” 

Merle was also encouraged to go to the local mobility centre to have a look for gadgets and devices for her hands that could help her manage more efficiently.

Arthritis New Zealand sent Merle booklets about exercise, physical activity, gardening, joint protection, pain management, and nutrition information to read.

Merle then started Tai Chi classes to help improve her mobility and balance and went back to the English country dancing group.

“I now do regular shoulder and lower leg exercises, plus a range of exercises I got from Tai Chi.”

Merle said her neck is still a problem, but she now has strategies to help manage the discomfort. 

“I also make sure I stay warm over the winter months and continue attending social activities.” 

Social support plays an essential role in arthritis wellbeing. Merle attends a sewing group, a gardening group and the dancing, and these make her feel supported.

“I was told to use Distraction as a pain strategy too, so now I also listen to 60’s music on a rainy day to help me feel better. I also realise now that my pet cat plays an important role in my Distraction and mental wellbeing.”


“All of this advice and support from Arthritis New Zealand has improved my quality of life. I have even reduced my paracetamol intake too.”

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