Pain management is a common caregiving concern that many caregivers, both family and professional, often feel helpless about. Whether the pain is temporary during a recovery period or more permanent due to a chronic condition, it is often the case that medication is not adequate. For caregivers, here are some non-medicated methods to help your senior with pain management.
Mild exercise and regular stretching will improve posture, maintain joints in a proper range of motion, strengthen muscles, and increase flexibility, all of which can reduce pain. Exercise doesn’t have to take the form of a structured class or a sport. Walking, gardening, or other hobbies can be a form of exercise.
Exercising may be the last thing that someone who is experiencing pain may want to do; so, as a caregiver, you can encourage them and try to push past the resistance. Join them in their activity to make it a social event!
Pain is often associated with inflammation within the body; so, consuming foods that decrease inflammation will likely have a beneficial effect. Foods that reduce inflammation include leafy greens, fish, berries, nuts, and beets. Staying hydrated can also alleviate some of the pain. As a caregiver who helps with meal preparation, be mindful of incorporating inflammation-reducing foods into meals, and ensure that the senior drinks enough water. Water performs a function within the body that is slightly different than other liquids; so, while drinking liquids in general is a good idea, try to make sure that a good portion of the liquids consumed is simply water.
Physiotherapy & Massage Therapy
Depending on the cause of the pain, physiotherapy or massage therapy can be effective in alleviating tension, as well as loosening joints and muscles. Physiotherapists can help increase range of motion and recommend exercises to perform at home, while specialized massage therapists can also focus on lymphatic drainage, myofascial release, and trigger point massages. As a caregiver, arrange for your loved one to receive an assessment to see if physiotherapy can be helpful.
Heat or Cold Packs
Ice can be used to reduce inflammation and swelling caused by an injury, while heat packs are more suited for chronic muscle pain. As a caregiver, talk to the doctor to discuss which is best for your loved one’s pain as using the wrong remedy can make the pain worse.
Tai-chi, meditation, and yoga are all examples of relaxation techniques that you can do with your loved one. Stress relief can help alleviate pain by relaxing muscles, calming the mind and reducing stress hormones in the body. In addition, all of these techniques can also help improve posture and alignment of the spine, which, in turn, can also reduce pain.
Depending on the nature and cause of the pain, some experimentation may be needed before determining the most effective solution. With a combination of techniques and the right medication regimen, pain can be minimized allowing for an improved quality of life.