3 ways to help older adults manage chronic pain

Unfortunately, chronic pain in seniors is a common complaint.

According to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, approximately 100 million Americans are affected by and managing chronic pain, making it one of the leading causes of long-term disability.

Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts at least 12 weeks. Some older adults experience a general discomfort that is not easily identifiable, while some can experience chronic pain as a result of an underlying medical condition.

No matter the reason, chronic pain can be managed to improve quality of life. Here are 3 ways to help an older adult manage chronic pain.

1. Caregivers should be aware of the following “yellow flags” that suggest they should take action, according to an American Geriatric Society study. These signs include a loss of appetite, mood swings or fatigue. When moving, the individual may vocalize the pain with groaning, or clench fists or grimace on the face.

2. Caregivers should properly manage medications.

Set up medication reminders, pick up prescriptions and accompany older adults to medical appointments are all helpful steps to managing their chronic pain. Make sure they have transportation to medical appointments and the appointments are kept on schedule to avoid any gap in treatment or evaluations.

3. Caregivers can track pain cycles.

Keep a journal of things that make their pain worse or better and track the frequency and duration. Some activities can cause pain to become worse or make pain management less effective. Make note of what methods help decrease the pain, such as ice or heat, elevation and rest.

If left untreated, chronic pain can lead to anxiety and depression. Chronic pain can be managed without prescription painkillers. Stretching, yoga, and relaxation techniques like relaxed breathing can help manage pain.

If you have difficulty with pain, speak with your health care provider to determine a comprehensive pain treatment plan.

Heritage Woods of Minooka, an Assisted Lifestyle Community for the Older Adult, 701 Heritage Woods Drive, Minooka, IL, 60447, 815-467-2837, www.gardant.com/heritagewoodsminooka