Stinging. Aching. Burning. That’s how many older adults with chronic pain express what they live with on an everyday basis. Chronic pain may occur anywhere in the body, in some cases for no apparent reason whatsoever. It is characterized by pain that lasts for more than three months, either nonstop or coming and going. And it’s more common than you might imagine, impacting a quarter of us in the United States.
Understandably, such constant pain can have a significant effect on an older adult’s overall wellbeing. Not only does it impact the ability to complete daily physical duties and activities, it also causes psychological strain too, often resulting in anxiety, tiredness, mood swings, depression, insomnia, and more. That’s why managing chronic pain in older adults is so important.
Medically Managing Chronic Pain in Older Adults
A number of factors go into the decision of how to best support an older adult with chronic pain, including the presumed or established cause of the pain, how severe the pain is, where in the body it happens, and age/overall health. There are a number of medication-based treatments to alleviate pain, including treatment for any psychological effects being experienced.
Furthermore, the physician might want to try a nerve block, epidural steroid injection, or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, involving small electrical impulses delivered through skin patches.
There may be undesirable side effects from these types of treatments, and some are quite serious, so the doctor will want to carefully evaluate what works best for the older adult.
Lifestyle Changes for Managing Chronic Pain in Older Adults
Encouraging older adults to make changes in lifestyle is often a good starting point, because they can be put in place right away without negative impacts. Several suggestions include:
- Dietary changes. Particular foods are known to cause inflammation, which could worsen pain. An anti-inflammatory diet that eliminates refined carbs and red meat might be recommended by the doctor or a nutritionist.
- Stress reduction. Elevated stress levels can have a significant impact on chronic pain. There are a number of techniques to lower stress that can help, including deep breathing, meditation or prayer, taking a warm, relaxing bath, reading, or listening to calming music.
- Exercise. Though it may seem counterintuitive to think of working out while in pain, low-intensity workouts are actually beneficial, and can also help with reducing stress. Ask the doctor for specific ideas.
- Sleep. Adequate sleep is key to all around health and wellness. There is also a connection between sleep deficiency and weight gain, an element that can further exacerbate chronic pain. Let the doctor know if insomnia is an issue so they can provide assistance with safe methods to improve sleep habits.
Home Care Helps with Managing Chronic Pain in Older Adults
Let the aging care team at Inspired Home Care, a trusted provider of senior care services in Barrington, IL and the surrounding areas, help an older adult you love better navigate life with chronic pain. There are a lot of ways our care providers can improve wellbeing, including:
- Companionship – having someone to talk to and participate in enjoyable activities with is an excellent mood-booster
- Motivation to engage in advised exercise programs
- Healthy meals
- Assistance with housework and laundry
- Medication reminders
- Transportation to medical appointments and any place else a senior would like to go
- Plus much more