There are a great many situations where elderly persons experience chronic pain without notifying anyone, either loved ones or doctors, simply because they feel it’s a natural part of the aging process, and must be tolerated accordingly. There are other reasons that pain goes unreported and untreated as well, including a fear of hospitalization and loss of independence. This is unfortunate because most kinds of persistent pain the elderly will encounter can be treated in some way, so they can enjoy a better quality of life.
However, all older adults handle medications differently, and because their bodies change significantly during aging, medications and dosages need to be changed to accommodate those changes. Loved ones and home caregivers are the first line of defense in Sunnyvale for talking to their charges about any pains they might have, and ensuring that the family doctor is informed, so proper pain treatment can be administered.
Effects of chronic elderly pain
The effects of chronic elderly pain can be far more profound than most people think. To be sure, it often causes loss of sleep and resulting fatigue, but there are other more far-reaching effects in addition. It can cause an older person to be much less physically active and much less socially active, because the tendency is to remain more sedentary, especially if the pain comes from the muscular or skeletal systems. If remaining sedentary reduces the pain, that will be the likely course adopted by a senior who is experiencing chronic pain.
Depression can be another major result of pain, and that can cause ripple effects in a senior that causes them to withdraw from normal daily activities and from the people surrounding them. This can even lead to various stages of isolation, and a decreased ability to cope with life, if the condition goes unchecked. When a senior feels constant or frequent pain, that will almost always cause sleep deprivation, since there is no sleeping position which feels comfortable. The loss of sleep then causes them to be even more susceptible to pain, and less able to cope with it, so it becomes a kind of cycle which builds upon itself.
How Sunnyvale caregivers can help with elderly pain
Since it is a natural tendency for elderly persons to under-report pain, caregivers in Sunnyvale can help by asking specific questions about what their charges might be feeling. General questions like, “Are you feeling pain?” are not especially helpful, because they don’t provide much of a reference point, so it is more useful to ask about how severe the pain feels on a scale of 1 to 10. While this may not be definitive, it usually does provide an indication of the severity, and how it should be handled.
The home caregiver can also help to formulate a kind of Comfort-Function plan, wherein some kind of pain management treatment can be undertaken to achieve at least the level of comfort necessary for a senior to be functional throughout desired daily activities. This involves the patient in his/her own care program, and it provides at least some kind of input to the caregiver and doctor, so an appropriate treatment program can be developed.
Some elderly persons consider drugs or medications necessary only when pain becomes too intense to bear, but the caregiver can help change this attitude by pointing them instead toward taking their meds regularly, so as to avoid those intense moments. In conjunction with the Comfort-Function strategy, this can put them out ahead of pain, so they are not exposed to those periods of unbearable pain. If the patient is concerned about becoming constipated by taking medications, the home caregiver can find natural ways of relieving that situation through increased fiber intake and more fluids.
The Sunnyvale home caregiver can encourage other methods of pain management with their charges as well. More exercise and stretching can help a great deal to relieve stress on muscles and bones, and music therapy can help to reduce stress and increase tolerance and coping. Sometimes even more exotic solutions like acupuncture can be beneficial to the senior experiencing chronic pain. If the elderly person is physically able to do non-weight-bearing activities like swimming, biking, or water aerobics, these can constitute the best approach to staying active without incurring any physical stress.
One of the most useful ways that home caregivers can be advocates for their elderly charges is by having a wide store of knowledge and experience with such situations, and understanding which approach is the best one to fit the present circumstances. With this kind of recognition, the caregiver can then coordinate a realistic and effective plan for pain management and treatment with family members, doctors, and the senior. By constantly learning more about emerging medications and treatments, caregivers can be extremely helpful in the battle against under-reported chronic pain among seniors.