Having to manage constant and sometimes crippling pain can lead seniors to withdraw from activities and relationships, and to stop taking part in aspects of their lives that are fulfilling and enjoyable
Many of seniors just accept pain as a part of growing older and don’t seek out support and treatment that could help them tend to the issues they are encountering, so it is important that caregivers and loved-ones remain attentive to changes in behavior so that they can encourage seniors to take good care of their health and integrate treatment strategies that can help them to keep up better physical and mental health as they deal with the challenges that accompany Chronic Pain.
What is Chronic Pain?
Chronic Pain, as opposed to Acute pain, is pain that lasts for a prolonged period of time. This type of stubborn pain is often rooted in a larger Chronic condition in the body, but there are some circumstances in which no specific cause of pain can be identified. In these cases, the Chronic pain is described as an illness in itself.
Chronic pain can be overpowering and can feel as though it is taking over seniors’ lives, but there are strategies and behaviours that can be integrated to help offer some relief from pain and help stop the existing patterns of discomfort.
Signs of Chronic Pain
Many seniors just accept pain as a part of their ageing process, and might try to just push through it rather than seeking help. It is, however, important that seniors talk to a healthcare professional if they are experiencing Chronic pain so that they can work towards identifying underlying causes and addressing the issues before things worsen. The following are some signs that caregivers and loved-ones can look out for that may indicate that a senior is dealing with Chronic pain:
- Clenching Fists
- Grimacing When Moving
- Groaning, Moaning, or Grunting When Moving
- Reduction in Appetite
- Rigid Movements
- Trouble Sleeping
- Withdrawal from Activities Because Movement is Uncomfortable
Each person reacts in a different way to pain, so the list above is by no means exhaustive or complete. There are many behavioural or emotional changes that can suggest that seniors are dealing with pain, so keep an eye out for any visible or identifiable changes, start a conversation, and seek support.
Chronic Pain and Mental Health
Not only is it important that seniors seek support to manage Chronic pain to ensure they care for the health of their bodies, it is also important for the health of their minds. Studies have shown that there is an important link between pain and depression, because the experience of pain creates negative feelings and emotions. Depression itself has also been shown to heighten people’s experiences of pain, creating a circle in which Chronic pain and depression continue to reinforce one another and impact seniors’ physical and mental health simultaneously. For this reason, among others, it is important that seniors find support to manage pain and keep their bodies and minds as healthy they can.
Managing Chronic Pain
The realities of Chronic pain make it so that the discomfort and debilitating impacts won’t just naturally go away with time. To really deal with Chronic pain and learn to keep on living a comfortable and happy life despite it, seniors must make some purposeful decisions and integrate tools and strategies. The following are some steps seniors can take to address Chronic pain:
- Don’t Pull Away: Feelings of isolation fuel depression and negative states of mental health, so it is important that seniors stay connected and try not to pull away from social engagements because of their pain.
- Find Distractions: It isn’t always possible to completely banish pain, so it can be helpful to find healthy distractions that take the mind away from focusing on pain and direct attention towards something enjoyable. Whether it be a hobby, time spent in the company of others, or experiences that soothe the 5 senses, distractions can help create moments of calm and relief.
- Gentle Movement: Physical inactivity can often increase both pain and depression, so it is important that seniors don’t avoid movement because they are worried about experiencing pain. Gentle exercise can help to relieve pain and keep the body mobile, so seniors should try to get a bit of comfortable and manageable movement in each day.
- See A Doctor: Seeing a doctor is best first step to take in pursuit of learning to manage Chronic pain. A healthcare professional can help in the process of determining the source of pain and can suggest appropriate strategies, techniques, and treatments to alleviate discomfort or can prescribe and provide direction towards appropriate medication for relief.
- Seek Support: Many seniors find it helpful to talk to other people who share their experience with Chronic pain. There are groups and other forms of social support available that can help to relieve feelings of isolation and help seniors to know they aren’t alone in their struggles with Chronic pain.
- Try Different Things: Everyone’s experience of Chronic pain is different, so there might be a period of trial and error involved in exploring treatment options and strategies. Some people take part in various therapies, others use medications, some undergo surgery, and many use a combination that they find effective. Try not to get discouraged while working through and determining out the best course of action.
- Try Meditation: The deep breathing and grounding exercises that come along with meditation can be valuable to some seniors learning to live with Chronic pain. The idea of taking each moment as it comes that exists as part of mindfulness meditation can help seniors to find calm and attend to the other thoughts and feelings they are having beyond their pain.
The reality of Chronic pain is that it is really difficult to manage every day, but there are ways to keep on living a happy and fulfilling life in spite of Chronic pain. Planning to meet with a healthcare professional in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, talking through treatment options, and making use of support networks can all help seniors to keep on living positive, happy, and enriching lives.