Referring to discomfort that continues for 3-6 months or more or pain that intermittently comes back, chronic pain is a part of life for many adults 65 and older. It’s not always possible to completely eliminate chronic pain. That being said, there are some ways older adults can effectively manage ongoing discomfort and enjoy a better overall quality of life. Here are five of them.
1. Find Ways to Stay Active
It may seem counterproductive to be more active when living with chronic pain, but being too inactive can weaken muscles and create entirely new sources of discomfort. While it can be understandably difficult to find ways to remain active, seniors with chronic pain may benefit from:
• Walking at a comfortable pace
• Water-based forms of exercise that stimulate core muscle groups in a way that’s less stressful
• Low-impact workout routines
• Chair-based exercises with handheld weights or resistance bands
Some older adults may need assistance with physical activity so they can alleviate chronic pain and maintain a high quality of life. Jefferson County home care experts are available to provide high-quality care to seniors on an as-needed basis. From assistance with mobility and exercise to providing transportation to the doctor’s office and social events, there are a variety of ways professional caregivers can help your aging loved one continue to live independently.
2. Take Medication Carefully and Correctly
For inflammation-based chronic pain, older adults may benefit from the use of anti-inflammatory drugs. Opioid painkillers are an option, but these drugs also have many well-known side effects and risks. An acceptable alternative that may provide sufficient relief is palmitoylethanolamide (PEA), a drug that has proven be effective for the treatment of chronic pain. It’s an appealing option because it has pain-relieving effects that come without the addiction risks associated with opioids. Any type of medication taken for chronic pain should be taken carefully and as instructed.
Living with a serious health condition can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional live-in care. Jefferson County seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more.
3. Try Hot/Cold Therapy
Some older adults are able to manage chronic pain by taking advantage of heat and cold applications. Cold works by reducing inflammation within the affected area, while heat increases circulation and stimulates the body’s natural healing process. Cold can be applied with ice packs or cooling gel. Heat can be delivered with a heating pad, heating gel, or a warm bath or shower.
4. Explore Alternative Treatments
Treatments considered outside of the mainstream can still be effective for seniors, especially if there’s a desire to avoid long-term dependence on medication. One option is electronic stimulation that could include TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) units, which stimulates nerves with low-voltage electrical impulses that interfere with pain signals.
Other alternative treatments that may work well for older adults with chronic pain include:
• Acupuncture with strategically placed sterilized needles
• Chiropractic adjustments that focus on spinal alignment
• Biofeedback to restore control of various internal processes
• Mindful meditation to change the way pain is perceived
5. Reduce Stress
Stress is often associated with chronic pain in older adults because of the uncertainty that goes along with ongoing discomfort. Stress is a double-edged sword because it can also amplify pain and make it more difficult to manage chronic conditions. Seniors may be able to control their stress levels when living with chronic pain by:
• Turning to family members and friends for support
• Keeping a journal to express personal feelings associated with chronic pain
• Considering “talk therapy” (psychotherapy)
• Exploring relaxing activities that might involve music, arts and crafts, or interactions with pets
• Trying controlled-movement techniques like yoga, Pilates, and tai chi
Caring for a loved one who is living with chronic pain can be difficult. One of the most challenging tasks of helping an elderly relative age in place safely and comfortably is researching agencies that provide senior care. Turn to Home Care Assistance for reliable, high-quality in-home care for aging adults. We offer 24-hour live-in care for seniors who require extensive assistance, and we also offer respite care for family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties. Call (303) 987-5992 today to speak with one of our friendly Care Managers.