Managing Chronic Pain in Aging Parents: What You Can Do to Help
As our parents age, they may experience chronic pain, which can greatly impact their quality of life. Chronic pain can be caused by a variety of factors, including arthritis, joint paint, and nerve damage. It’s important for adult children to understand how to help with managing chronic pain in aging parents in a way that allows them to maintain their independence.
How Can You Help Someone Manage Chronic Pain?
One of the first steps in managing chronic pain is to understand the root cause. If your aging parent is experiencing chronic pain, the doctor or specialist can help determine the underlying cause and develop a treatment plan. Treatment may involve physical therapy, medication, or alternative therapies like massage or acupuncture. In addition to seeking medical treatment, there are several things that you, as an adult child, can do to help your aging parent manage their chronic pain:
- Encourage a healthy lifestyle. A healthy diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep can all help with managing chronic pain. Encourage your aging parent to maintain a healthy lifestyle and offer to help them find ways to be more active. The doctor can provide recommendations for appropriate physical activities. Show your support by exercising together. This can be as simple as setting aside time on a regular basis and taking a walk with your parent.
- Promote relaxation. Chronic pain can be made worse by stress and anxiety. Encourage your parent to practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, medication, or yoga, to help reduce their stress levels. It may take some trial and error to discover what truly brings a sense of calm for the person. A warm bath, favorite music, and spending time with the grandkids or a pet can also be very effective.
- Assist with daily activities. If your parent is struggling with chronic pain, they may have trouble performing daily activities. Determine what is causing difficulty, and offer to help. Typical activities that are often challenging include household chores, grocery shopping, preparing meals, getting up and out of bed or a chair, or taking a shower.
- Offer emotional support. Chronic pain can be a source of stress and depression for older adults. Offer emotional support and be a good listener, allowing your parent to express their feelings and concerns. It’s also a good idea to seek professional counseling or therapy. Your parent will have the opportunity to learn some coping mechanisms and other tools to work through any emotional distress they are experiencing.
Your role in supporting an aging parent with chronic pain management is extremely important. Keep in mind, however, that it’s just as important for you to care for yourself while you’re caring for your parent. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by partnering with a reputable home care provider for regular, ongoing respite care.
Right at Home’s trained and experienced caregivers are here to help with as much or as little assistance as needed. Let us help your parent experience the highest possible quality of life and independence.
Right at Home, an award-winning provider of home care in Sarasota and serving all of Sarasota County, provides professionally certified senior care services. Contact us at (941) 929-1966 for a free in-home consultation to discuss your care needs or concerns.