September is Pain Awareness Month. The American Chronic Pain Association, in partnership with other organizations across the country, established Pain Awareness Month to help people recognize, understand, and treat and manage chronic pain.
Chronic pain is pain that continues beyond the expected time of healing; it can also occur due to ongoing health issues. Many seniors experience chronic pain after a surgery, or as a result of another medical issue, such as rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia, or cancer.
Chronic pain can affect sleep, mental health, and can even disrupt the social life of your family member. Fortunately, there are some healthy ways you can help him or her manage chronic pain and live a healthier, happier life.
Healthy Pain Management
Encourage physical activity with low-impact movement such as swimming, cycling, walking, or rowing. Physical activity can help alleviate chronic pain or even prevent it.
Massage therapy will increase blood flow, improve circulation, and relax the muscles. Massage therapy has been shown to improve sleep and increase endorphin levels, which create a feeling of well-being.
A good physical therapist can help your senior loved one by performing an assessment to determine the areas of the body that are weak or stiff. He or she will then develop a plan that includes exercises, stretching, heat or ice packs, and more to treat the pain at its source.
Eating healthy foods that reduce inflammation can also help reduce chronic pain. Choose whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, and fruits and veggies. Eat cold water fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines. Add herbs and spices like turmeric, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper to food. Dark chocolate with 70% cocoa or higher is also great for reducing inflammation. (Hooray!) Avoid fried foods, red meat, processed foods, white flour, soda, and sweets — these will increase the chance of inflammation in the body.
Treat the anxiety and depression that can result from chronic pain with cognitive behavioral therapy. This type of therapy focuses on the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, helping your loved one manage the mental stresses that can come with chronic pain.
Make sure medications are taken on time. Even if your family member says he or she is feeling okay, don’t reduce the prescribed amount of medication, skip taking it, or put it off until its next scheduled time. Always consult your senior’s doctor before making any changes to taking medicine.
Managing chronic pain is important and can take time. If you’re concerned that your loved one isn’t able to properly manage his or her pain, Mountain Home Care can help. We have highly skilled, dedicated, and compassionate staff who can make sure your loved one is taking medications, will assist with therapy appointments, and can make sure your family member is eating properly and getting the overall care and attention he or she needs. Contact us to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation!