As people get older, they tend to experience more aches and pains. At first, this may be merely annoying, but it's not a problem to dismiss or ignore. Chronic pain can worsen quickly, and when it does, it can severely impact a person's quality of life and independence.
Why do people experience more pain as they age? Sometimes, pain is just a natural, but unfortunate, side effect of wear and tear on the body. As people get older, their muscles and ligaments tend to become less limber. This can lead to overall feelings of stiffness and achiness, especially in people who don't get much exercise.
Certain diseases of old age can cause pain, too. Osteoarthritis is the most common culprit. This disease of the joints occurs when the protective cartilage wears off the ends of the bones, causing the bones to rub together painfully. Osteoarthritis can be managed, but it cannot be cured. Other age-related health problems that can cause pain include degenerative disc disease and bone spurs.
In addition to these common issues, recent research indicates that seniors may simply be more sensitive to pain than younger people are. A study from the University of Florida found that older people experience more inflammation than younger people after an illness or injury, and it takes longer for an older person's body to recover from that inflammation.
Chronic pain can have a profound effect on every aspect of a person's life. People living with pain may struggle with everyday tasks like cleaning their house, carrying groceries, and taking care of pets. Pain can make it hard to enjoy life, and some people with chronic pain even develop depression as a result. While some pain may be unavoidable, it's very important for seniors (as well as their families and home caregivers) to learn how to manage pain in a healthy way.
5 Ways to Manage Pain as You Age
Pain is just a fact of life for many people, but most types of chronic pain can be managed or at least have their symptoms reduces. Here are five simple ways people can minimize their pain as they get older.
1. Use natural remedies for pain.
Prescription and over-the-counter pain relievers can be very useful, but many people don't want to pop a pill every time their pain flares up. Fortunately, there are plenty of natural pain remedies that are an excellent first line of defense against arthritis and other types of pain. Here are a few simple, inexpensive treatments that might work. Of course, always discuss options with your doctor before starting any kind of new treatment, even if it is a natural one.
Use heat and cold. Stiff joints often feel better after having hot and cold packs applied to them. For best results, switch between the two every minute or so.
Eat a healing diet. Diet plays a big role in healing (or worsening) chronic inflammation and pain. Avoiding processed foods, sugar, and alcohol can help to reduce inflammation. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body.
Use anti-inflammatory spices. Ginger, turmeric, cayenne, and cinnamon can all help reduce inflammation. Try adding these spices to food or brewing a cup of hot ginger tea.
Try aromatherapy. Certain scents — like lavender, peppermint, and rosemary — can help to reduce pain. Get the benefit of these herbs by adding a few drops of essential oil to a diffuser.
Meditate. Meditation is a simple practice that can help with pain management and improve mood. YouTube has plenty of guided meditation recordings for beginners. For best results, try to meditate for a few minutes every day.
2. Get regular physical exercise.
Many people don't want to work out when they're in pain, but physical activity can actually bring a lot of relief. Exercising helps people maintain their strength, which gives their joints more support. It also helps people stay flexible, which can help to loosen up stiff muscles and ligaments. Good exercise options for people with chronic pain include:
Lifting light weights
A home caregiver can help seniors who have limited mobility. If mobility is severely limited, at a minimum home caregivers can perform range of motion exercises.
3. Use pharmaceutical medications.
Natural remedies can do a lot for pain, but sometimes people need a more heavy-duty form of treatment. In cases like these, pharmaceutical medications can be a big help in managing symptoms and improving quality of life. For people who take prescription medications to relieve their pain, it's absolutely essential to follow instructions. Listen to your physician and take medications exactly as directed. Pay attention to your symptoms while you're taking pharmaceutical medications, and if anything changes or you develop any new side effects, let your doctor know right away.
Home caregivers can help with medication administration. They can also help monitor how a senior is doing on medications and can take note of any changes or side effects that might otherwise get missed.
4. Consider getting an emotional support animal.
Pain isn't just a physical problem. There's a major emotional component to pain as well. People with healthy support networks and plenty of social interaction tend to have an easier time managing their pain than people who are lonely. One great way to manage the emotional aspects of pain is to adopt an emotional support animal like a dog or a cat. Furry friends make good companions, and many emotional support animals seem to be able to sense when their owners are in pain and need some comfort.
5. Consider home care services.
Pain makes everything harder, but hiring a home caregiver can help to lift some of that burden. A home caregiver can help clients manage pain in a number of ways: they can take care of household chores, prepare anti-inflammatory meals, help clients stretch aching muscles, and prepare hot and cold packs to help with pain flares. Home care services can also be a good source of companionship, especially for clients who are homebound.
Home Care Services in California
Pain doesn't have to take over a person's life as they age. Learning how to manage pain can allow people to live active, healthy lives long into their senior years. These simple lifestyle tips can help anyone minimize their pain as they get older.
If you're in need of home care services in California, reach out to Alegre Home Care at one of our many locations. Alegre Home Care provides high quality home care by employing, training and supervising select home caregivers. Our caregivers will attend to you with compassion, respect and understanding. Contact us here!