Busting the Myths of Chronic Pain in the Elderly: It’s Not Just Part of Aging

Enduring pain is a prevalent issue among the elderly, characterized by pain that exceeds the expected duration. The frequency of chronic pain increases with age which raises concerns among many individuals.

Many elders wonder if they will have to live with relentless pain as they age. They question if they can lead a pain-free life or if they will need to rely on medications. These concerns can lead to anxiety about their future mobility and quality of life.

There are numerous health conditions that may increase the risk of chronic pain in seniors. For those already suffering from chronic pain, it could be due to:

  • Heart-related Diseases
  • Neurological Diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Kidney Diseases
  • Heart Failure
  • Lung Obstructions
  • Injuries or Surgeries to Joints or Skeleton
  • Fractures

Unfortunately, many seniors suffer from chronic pain silently. Here are a few reasons why elders might not report their chronic pain symptoms:

  • They believe it's a normal part of aging.
  • They're afraid of undergoing several medical tests.
  • They fear medications prescribed by doctors.
  • They're scared of learning about the progress or worsening of a disease associated with their chronic pain.

Tackling Chronic Pain in the Elderly

Chronic pain should never be neglected. Often, a responsible family member may need to intervene and assist with their pain management. They can coordinate various treatment and pain control plans.

Identifying the exact type of chronic pain may not be immediate. It might require several healthcare professionals to evaluate the condition and provide the right course of action.

Here are some strategies to manage chronic pain in elders:

Evaluate the Pain Level

The first step is to determine the intensity of pain the elderly person is experiencing. This can be challenging as some seniors may underestimate their pain due to several fears or may not provide a clear response due to cognitive decline or similar conditions.

If they can respond effectively, the simplest way is to ask them to rate their pain on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is the maximum.

Monitor the Elder's Responses

It's important to not just rely on their evaluation but to also closely observe them for any non-verbal cues or reactions. They might be suffering more than they disclose or are able to express.

Pain Management through Medication

Medications can be highly effective in treating pain, but this should always be under the supervision of their physician. Some seniors might not prefer prescription drugs, and that's perfectly fine. They can seek help from a naturopath or a holistic health care professional. The treatment they are comfortable with should be the one included in their pain management plan.

Non-Medical Pain Management

There are several non-medical strategies to manage chronic pain in the elderly. Some seniors may prefer alternative treatments like physical therapy, massage therapy, Bowen therapy, hot and cold therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic care, and more.

Conclusion

Living with chronic pain is a significant concern for seniors. Hence, identifying a suitable pain management plan that aligns with their needs and beliefs is crucial for them to enjoy a pain-free life.

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