Helping Seniors Manage Pain

March 28, 2017

Many seniors live with pain, which can be either acute (intense but short-lived) or chronic (lasting six weeks or more). Whatever the source, the techniques for managing pain are the same. The goal is to minimize the pain while maximizing the patient's ability to live a normal life.

In addition to taking pain medication, as prescribed by your parent's doctor, different people have found these techniques helpful:

  • Distraction -- taking one's mind off the pain by doing such things as watching TV, going to a movie, getting together with a friend, listening to music, or meditating -- can help manage pain.

  • Relaxation techniques -- reducing stress and helping muscles relax -- can reduce pain.

  • Hypnosis -- inducing a state of trance-like relaxed awareness -- can be used to block or reinterpret the sensation of pain.

  • Physical therapy -- which improves blood and oxygen flow to muscles and helps relax them -- can relieve pain.

  • Electrical nerve stimulation -- sending low-voltage electrical currents through the skin via electrodes placed near the source of pain to stimulate nerves and send signals to the brain -- can interfere with pain awareness

  • Heat and/or cold -- heat can relax the muscles while cold can numb them -- can interrupt pain.

  • Support groups -- which can enable your parent to feel less alone and share coping strategies -- can help.

  • Pain treatment centers -- facilities that specialize in pain treatment and use the latest techniques -- can help. The American Chronic Pain Association has tips on finding the right pain treatment center.

  • Counseling -- which provides support and someone to discuss the pain with -- can help.

  • Exercise -- releases endorphins (which enhance a self of well-being), improves blood and oxygen flow to muscles, and helps them relax -- can reduce pain.

  • Stress management -- interrupts the pain cycle, as stress leads to muscle tensing, which causes more pain -- reduces pain.

  • Proper nutrition -- enables one's body to cope with anything, including pain -- helps manage pain.

  • Getting enough sleep -- people who don't sleep well tense up, increasing pain -- so sleeping well reduces pain.

  • Yoga -- can help relax muscles, but must be done carefully, so as not to aggravate the situation -- can help reduce pain.

  • Tai chi -- a series of gentle movements during which the practitioner focuses on movement and breathing, producing a state of relaxation and calm -- can reduce stress and pain.

  • Acupuncture -- a technique where thin needles inserted into specific points in the body get energy flowing correctly and promote self-healing -- can reduce pain.












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