a doctor helps a senior with pain management.

Chronic Pain in the Elderly and How to Manage it

0 Comment Category: Assisted Living

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that more than 20 million older adults in the US alone are living with chronic pain. As chronic pain interferes with their daily life, seniors often take medications to manage their condition. Yet because of the opioid epidemic in recent times, doctors are reluctant to recommend pharmacological solutions for chronic pain. This can make things quite challenging for seniors, but there are ways to manage chronic pain effectively and deal with the frustrating situation without relying on medications.

Causes of Chronic Pain in Seniors

As we age, our body becomes weaker and paves the way for many types of complications. The most common cause of chronic pain in seniors is found to be musculoskeletal disorders that happen due to the weakening of the bones. Conditions like arthritis and degenerative spinal problems often lead to severe pain in the elderly, while ischemic pain, neuropathic pain, and pain due to cancer and its treatment are also triggers of chronic pain. Vertebral compression fractures in older women are another common cause of severe pain and discomfort.

Chronic pain in seniors can lead to an increased risk of falls, functional impairment, mobility problems, and other adverse outcomes like depression and sleep issues. Pain evaluation and treatment is also very difficult in seniors because of concomitant chronic illnesses, whereas older adults also respond differently to different therapies, making it difficult to follow a treatment plan. Moreover, many seniors also have some kind of cognitive impairment that makes it difficult for them to report their condition, leading to inadequate pain assessment and management.

How to Help Seniors Manage Chronic Pain

There are not many evidence-based guidelines for treating chronic pain in seniors. However, there are a few ways to help elderly people deal with their pain and discomfort effectively. Below are a few natural remedies recommended by assisted living caregivers to address chronic pain issues in seniors.

  • Maintain a healthy diet: Eating healthy can have a great impact on inflammation in the body, which can ramp up chronic pain. Seniors need to understand which foods are good for their health and which ones they should avoid for keeping pain and inflammation under control. This is especially important for seniors who are suffering from osteoarthritis. That is why caregivers at assisted living homes include inflammation-fighting foods in the diet plans for their residents.
  • Exercise regularly: Physical activity may seem like the last thing to think of when seniors have pain, but it is seen that low-impact exercises can benefit older adults a lot to manage pain and inflammation. Simple daily exercises like walking, swimming, and yoga can help to keep the muscles and joints limber and strong. This not only helps to manage chronic pain by preventing and reducing inflammation but also boosts the mood and psychological health of seniors.
  • Practice Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT is seen to be of great help in improving the lives of seniors with both physical and mental health conditions. The therapy involves working with a professional to learn the right techniques to redirect the mind when pain is high. This can include a variety of tools like deep breathing techniques, meditation, and more.
  • Manage stress: Stress is one of the common factors that lead to increased pain in seniors. Besides, stress can also cause many other complications and affect the overall wellbeing of older adults. That is why assisted living communities provide a relaxed and laid-back environment with recreational activities and socializing options to help their residents beat stress effectively and manage chronic pain. Techniques like guided meditation, art therapy, music therapy, and progressive muscle relaxation work greatly to help reduce stress in seniors.

Contact The Falls Home to learn more about our pain management solutions.

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