Managing Chronic Pain as You Age

An older woman managing chronic pain holds her shoulder while talking with an in-home caregiver.
Try these tips for more effectively managing chronic pain.

Imagine trying to tackle your normal, everyday tasks and activities when you’re dealing with relentless, ongoing pain. That’s exactly what one in four of us in the United States are experiencing. Managing chronic pain, described as an aching, stinging, or burning sensation in one or more parts of the body, is challenging, to say the least.

On top of the obvious physical discomfort, those with chronic pain face an emotional impact as well, commonly experiencing fatigue, anxiety, depression, insomnia, mood swings, and more.

How Can an Older Adult Overcome Issues From Chronic Pain?

There are two main ways to manage chronic pain: through medication-based treatments and lifestyle changes.

Medication Options for Chronic Pain

A visit with the doctor to discuss options for pain relief is the first step. The doctor will want to find out:

  • How severe the pain is
  • What debilitating effects the pain is causing
  • The cause for the pain (if known)
  • What parts of the body are affected
  • How long the pain has been occurring
  • Whether the pain is continuous or comes and goes
  • The age and overall health of the individual experiencing the pain

With this information in hand, there are several medication-based treatments the doctor may recommend to alleviate pain. The physician may also include treatment for any emotional effects the person is experiencing.

Some of the pain relief methods that can be tried include:

  • A nerve block
  • An epidural steroid injection
  • A transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation or TENS unit (small electric impulses delivered through skin patches)
  • Prescription pain medication

It’s important to carefully weigh the pros and cons of any suggested medical treatment. They each come with potentially serious and severe side effects.

Lifestyle Changes for Chronic Pain

Changes to the person’s lifestyle are often the preferred first choice for pain relief. All of these changes can be started immediately without fear of negative side effects. These include:

  • Reducing stress. Elevated stress is a natural response to chronic pain, and can further exacerbate the pain in a vicious cycle. Stress relief techniques that may help include calming activities such as reading, listening to quiet music, taking a warm bath, deep breathing, prayer, or meditation.
  • Changing the diet. Inflammation can increase pain, so following an anti-inflammatory diet can be beneficial. The doctor or a dietician can prescribe an appropriate dietary plan, which may include eliminating red meat and refined carbs.
  • Exercising. Low-intensity exercises can help alleviate both pain and stress. Ask the doctor for exercise recommendations.
  • Getting more sleep. Sleeping well isn’t easy when you’re in pain, but getting enough sleep is crucial. Not only that, but there is a link between inadequate sleep and weight gain, which can make pain worse. Keep the bedroom cool and dark, turn off electronics and the TV an hour before bedtime, eat lighter meals later in the day, and go to bed/wake up at the same times each day to improve sleeping habits.


Home Care Can Help With Managing Chronic Pain!

Our caregiving experts are on hand to help older adults with chronic pain in a variety of ways. We can provide transportation to medical appointments, take care of shopping and other errands, prepare healthy meals, provide medication reminders and encouragement to stick with exercise routines, and much more.

Discover the difference in-home care can make in the life of someone you love! Call us at 877-71-ABRIO for a free in-home consultation to learn more about our home care in Yuma, Flagstaff, Mesa, Phoenix, Kingman, and the surrounding areas.