Allison Paisley, chair of the Young Arthritis Network
Issues affecting people under 50 who are living with arthritis in Longford will be addressed at a conference on Saturday, November 24.
Employment, parenting and mental health are amongst the topics for discussion at the Arthritis Ireland event, which will be held in Maynooth.
Even though frequently thought of as an old person’s disease, 150,000 people with the disease in this country are under the age of 50. Given that arthritis is the single biggest cause of disability, this presents significant challenges in terms of careers, raising a family or being involved in the community.
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“Young and middle-aged people with arthritis are often invisible in society,” said Allison Paisley, chair of the Young Arthritis Network. “There’s a perception that arthritis is just an old person’s disease; but it can affect anyone. Arthritis can have an enormous impact on people’s lives that extends far beyond the chronic pain of the condition. For every person living with the disease, it also impacts their family, their community, their employer.
"The purpose of this conference is to provide information, advice and support to people to help them live better with arthritis. In addition to expert speakers, the event is also an opportunity for people to come together in a social setting and connect with others who are going through similar experiences,” Ms Paisley said.
Employment is a key theme of the conference, reflecting the impact of arthritis on people’s careers. Miriam Tighe from EmployAbility will look at relevant employment issues, while Jackie Gleeson from the Citizens Information Centre will provide information on entitlements.
A 2017 study of people living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) revealed that 50 per cent of respondents had a job change, including 17 per cent who had retired from work and 13 per cent who quit due to their condition. Furthermore, 24 per cent of patients reduced their working hours based on the impact of their RA.
Claire Kinneavy, Kildare branch of Arthritis Ireland, said: “This is going to be a very empowering event. Delegates will be able to try adapted yoga, while counsellor-led discussion groups will provide an opportunity to discuss relevant personal and social issues in a confidential, safe place. Living with arthritis changes your life. This conference is about giving people hope and giving them the tools and resources to reclaim their lives from this dreadful disease.”
The Under 50 and Living with Arthritis conference is organised by the Young Arthritis Network and the Kildare branch of Arthritis Ireland.
It will take place in the Glenroyal Hotel, Maynooth on Saturday, November 24 from 9am-4pm. Tickets cost €20 (excluding booking fee) and can be ordered via the Arthritis Ireland website, www.arthritisireland.ie