As the population segment of aging seniors grows in the United States, health care workers, physicians, family members and caregivers are paying more attention to the chronic pain that often accompanies the aging process. According to the NIH (National Institutes of Health), 50 percent of seniors living on their own and up to 85 percent of seniors living in care facilities suffer from some form of chronic pain. Caregivers can help identify seniors who suffer from chronic pain, and keep them on track to avoid the social isolation, depression and anxiety that can come with the condition.
Pain and Aging Seniors
As people age, natural changes take place in the body that can affect chronic pain. Seniors find that their joints and muscles become increasingly rigid, their sleep patterns may change and their energy level decreases. Many diseases and medical conditions are accompanied by pain as well. Unfortunately, chronic pain in the elderly is often left untreated. Seniors may have conditions that limit their ability to communicate their problems with pain, such as dementia or a hearing loss. Others may fear that the diagnosis will lead to costly tests and medication, and some doubt if the condition can be treated at all.
Treating Chronic Pain
Appropriate pain management can help to reduce or even eliminate chronic pain in the elderly. Arriving at a plan of action often takes a team of specialists made up of physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, pharmacists and other pain management health care workers. Often, chronic pain in aging adults requires specialized care that takes into consideration the physical conditions and medications of the patient.
The first step in getting help for chronic pain is to find out its cause. A diagnosis may involve a thorough examination of the senior’s health history, testing and diagnostic imaging techniques such as x-rays, MRI’s and CT scans. Often, pain medication will be prescribed.
Understanding your Pain Medication
Once the diagnosis is made, the senior should be aware of the answer to questions about their chronic pain medication. Here are some questions to ask.
- Will I be taking pain medication?
- What is the name of the medication?
- Are there any side effects?
- Will it interact with other drugs I am taking?
- When should I take the medication?
- Should I take it after eating?
- What should I do if I forget to take it?
- How long will I be on it?
- How long will it take to work?
- Is the medication dangerous?
Enlisting the Help of a Caregiver
A trained in-home caregiver from a reputable home health care agency can help elderly individuals with chronic pain problems. A caregiver can provide transportation for doctor’s appointments and testing, pick up pain prescriptions and remind the senior to take the medication regularly.
Home Helpers of South Shore is owned and operated by a compassionate health professional with a strong understanding of the needs of aging seniors. Contact Home Helpers to help your aging loved one.
Please fill out the form on the left and we will get in touch with you about setting up in-home health care, or call us at 781-585-1244 to determine the plan that is right for you.
We serve the following communities:
Abington , Braintree , Brockton , Buzzards Bay , Carver , Cohasset, Dighton , Duxbury , Falmouth , Halifax , Hanson , Hingham , Holbrook , Hull , Humarock , Kingston , Lakeville , Marshfield , Mashpee , Middleboro , Norwell , Pembroke , Plymouth , Plympton , Quincy , Randolph , Rockland , Sandwich , Scituate , Taunton , Wareham , Weymouth , Whitman