Chronic pain is a common issue in later life and is actually one of the most common conditions encountered by healthcare professions among older patients. Pain is associated with a number of different issues including reduced mobility, lack of activity, depression, falls, anxiety, isolation, and more.
Luckily, there are treatment methods and strategies available to help those dealing with these issues. There are therapeutic and medication options for those who are suffering from chronic pain. Along with things like cognitive-behavioral therapy, exercise programs exist to improve balance, flexibility, and more in those who have chronic pain.
Chronic pain is a serious problem that can lead to several consequences and can, at times, cause some older individuals to seek the help of a caregiver or assisted living facility to help them through day-to-day activities. Before learning more about these options, let’s take a look at what chronic pain actually is and ways in which you can manage it.
What Is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is somewhat hard to define but is typically thought of as pain that persists beyond the expected healing time. The pain may last for weeks, months, or even years. The original cause of the pain may be due to injury or infection. However, it can be hard to define at times because it may or may not be associated with an identifiable cause. However, some of the common causes of chronic pain include musculoskeletal disorders and treatments like diabetes, chemotherapy, and surgery. Pain is also something that is common in advanced stages of chronic diseases including congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and more.
Chronic pain is something that affects older adults at a disproportionate rate. In fact, one survey found that over 50 percent of older adults in the United States reported experiencing bothersome pain. Other risk factors besides age include being female, low socioeconomic status, obesity, tobacco use, history of injury, depression, anxiety, and more.
How To Manage Chronic Pain
Chronic pain is not always curable, but treatments can help. Management of chronic pain later in life can be complex for a number of reasons. For instance, management can be an issue as chronic pain in older patients often comes with comorbidities, which can effectively limit treatment options.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT, has become a common treatment option available for those experiencing chronic pain. CBT is a widely researched psychotherapeutic method of treatment that focuses on the relationships between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. CBT can be especially effective for treating depression and anxiety and improving the quality of life in some chronic pain patients. The therapy is used to enhance patients’ control over pain.
While medication can be used to manage certain pain problems, there are safety concerns about some of these medications as they can lead to harmful side effects and even addiction if not handled properly. One of the most common forms of medications is opioids. These medications while helpful in treating short-term chronic pain, often lead to issues with abuse. Strong opioids should not be given to patients who have never used opioids.
One underutilized and often overlooked form of rehabilitation for those with chronic pain. The primary forms of exercise include training for balance, flexibility, endurance, and strength. Clinicians would identify what the patient requires and tailor an exercise program to help each patient specifically. One common form of chronic pain is arthritis, and there have been exercise programs in place to help with arthritis-related diseases and other chronic pain problems.
There are other less common forms of treatment that are used to help with chronic pain. For instance, acupuncture is widely used to manage chronic pain but is considered controversial according to the JAMA Network. However, studies have shown that acupuncture can be effective in improving pain outcomes.
While there are ways that you can treat chronic pain, there are also preventative methods that you can take try to avoid the situation entirely.
One way to do that is to make sure that you are being active. While exercise can help treat the problem, it can also help prevent it. Getting regular physical exercise will help keep the muscles strong. Doing simple exercises and stretches even two days a week will do wonders for preventing these problems. If you are more into doing actual activities, you can always try a yoga class.
Along with getting exercise, another way to prevent chronic pain is to prevent injuries in the first place. To do this, you can focus on good posture and by lifting objects with your legs and not your back.
Despite the prevention and treatment strategies that you can utilize to help reduce symptoms, there are still persistent issues that can make it difficult for senior citizens to perform day-to-day tasks and live independently. If this is the case, it is sometimes best and safest to enlist the help of a caregiver or assisted living facility.
Chronic pain is a serious problem that affects millions of seniors in the United States. While the issue is widespread, there are prevention and treatment methods to help those who are suffering from the issue. Treatment methods like exercise, medication, and therapy can all help reduce symptoms related to chronic pain. However, sometimes this is not always enough. If you or a loved one is suffering from chronic pain, it may be best to find help in the form of an assisted living facility.
Landmark Senior Living is one community that is dedicated to providing your loved one with the quality care and time that they deserve and need during this chapter of their lives. Landmark has knowledgeable staff on-site to help patients with many health problems and chronic diseases. Landmark even has a memory care facility in New Mexico in place to help those with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia-related illnesses. If you are interested in learning more about what Landmark can offer, please visit our website where you can schedule a free walkthrough of one of our facilities.