Jan 1, 2019 by Travis M. Smith
Understanding Chronic Pain in Chronic Pain
Up to 88% of older adults report some form of chronic pain. But the good news is that older adults working with their healthcare provider can learn to manage their condition and live a full life in spite of pain, no matter what their age.
Seniors are more vulnerable to chronic pain for a number of reasons including greater joint and muscle wear and tear, the presence of other medical conditions, and a general decrease in activity levels. They are also more at risk for accidents that can lead to chronic pain.
About 20% of senior adults report taking pain medications several times per week, usually for joint or muscle related pain. The more common types of chronic pain seniors tend to have are:
As a caregiver, it’s important to know that dealing with chronic pain in seniors can be more challenging because it can be harder to diagnose and treat. Statistics show that older adults are less likely to be forthcoming about their pain when speaking with their doctors. This could be out of fear of potential illness, or because they do not want to seem vulnerable. Oftentimes seniors feel that pain comes with age, and that reporting it is unnecessary. Some may also have more trouble communicating their pain because of decreased hearing, compromised abilities associated with a stroke or even dementia. The result for many seniors is that it leaves them trying to cope with chronic pain unguided, and may also leave them open to anxiety and depression.
“A little awareness can make all the difference in the quality of life your senior can have, and finding the support your senior needs can get him or her on the road to coping with chronic pain,” said Travis M. Smith, of Comfort Keepers® in Austin, Texas.
Falls among the senior population generally cause more damage and complications than they do among younger adults, too. Older adults who have chronic joint pain or muscle aches, especially in the legs, are 50% more prone to falling than seniors that don’t have it. This is bad news in general for seniors because as when you couple an injury from a fall with a persistent pain condition, there is a longer recovery period and a return to a potentially lower quality of life.
There can also be more potential complications from typical pain medications. Older adults tend to have more adverse reactions to pain medications which means that medication needs to be monitored more closely in seniors, and that medication changes require more time. This can be frustrating for both the individual and the healthcare provider. Some seniors simply won't take pain medications because they do not want to suffer the side effects.
Finally, since seniors may already have other medical conditions that require regular medications such as heart disease, lung disorders, diabetes and blood pressure problems, close monitoring of all the medications he or she takes is required to ensure that medication interactions do not occur.
“You can’t turn the clock back and make the senior in your life young again,’ Smith added. “But as a caregiver there are some things you can do to help him or her manage chronic pain better.”
Here are a few tips to help seniors who suffer from chronic pain get on with life.
About Comfort Keepers
With over 750 locations worldwide, Comfort Keepers is a leader in in-home senior care to promote independent living. Services include companionship, meal preparation, light housekeeping, grocery shopping, incidental transportation, laundry, recreational activities, and personal care. Comfort Keepers of Austin, Texas offers FREE IN-HOME ASSESSMENTS and can be reached at (512) 766-0105.