76 million Americans suffer from pain, primarily arthritis and back pain. Chronic pain in seniors can be devastating to their ability to live a full life. Pain can also interfere with cognition and attention and lead to depression in older adults.
Many doctors agree that we are doing a poor job of controlling chronic pain. The Institute of Medicine believes that “we need to treat pain as a disease of the body and the mind.” To quote Dr. David Borshook from Time magazine’s report on pain, “chronic pain … affects the sensory, emotional, motivational and cognitive pathways.”
Pain Drives Doctor Visits
The number one reason most people visit a doctor is to treat pain. Acute pain usually results from an injury or infection and usually doesn’t last long once treated. Long term, chronic pain is frustrating for seniors but can be treated. Finding the source of the pain is sometimes difficult and frequently unable to be identified. Your senior’s doctor will need to ask many questions to help formulate a plan of action so you may want to get the answers ready before you go.
- Where does it hurt?
- Does the pain move around?
- How long does the pain last or does it come and go?
- Does the pain interrupt your sleep?
- Is this new or have you had it for a while?
- How does the pain affect your activity, lifestyle, relationships, or mood?
- Does something make the pain better or worse?
Seniors Want Relief from Pain
Pain relief is what your senior is hoping to achieve so you both need to be part of the treatment plan. Pain relief is the first step in the process of getting your senior back into life. Regaining any lost function includes exercising, walking, climbing steps and even sleeping. It is important for your senior to sleep in his own bed and not awaken from pain. It will take time to recover fully.
Pain relief may include medications-either in prescription or over the counter forms. Pain medication used appropriately according to the doctor’s instructions rarely is addictive to your senior. These medications may make it easier for your senior to participate in daily activities in which he or she was previously unable. Sometimes other types of medications are prescribed that will help your senior handle chronic pain such as antidepressants, stimulants and anti-anxiety drugs. Sometimes the treatment plan may call for a combination approach.
Other parts of the treatment plan may include injection therapy, physical therapy, exercise training, counseling, acupuncture, massage, hypnosis and other complementary approaches. Your senior might benefit from weight loss and learning new body mechanics. Staying as active as possible and avoiding isolation will also help improve your seniors outlook when dealing with chronic pain.
Your senior does not need to suffer with pain. Relief from pain is within every senior’s reach!
We hope you will share your experiences with facing your chronic pain or helping your senior loved ones obtain relief and look forward to your comments.