By Carla Adamic, The Reutlinger Community
Half of all seniors in the United States suffer from some form of chronic pain. Despite this staggering statistic, that pain often goes untreated. The first step to getting treatment is, of course, reporting it, but there are often barriers that prevent that from happening. Many seniors live on fixed incomes and are afraid to report chronic pain out of fear that it will lead to expensive medications and treatments. Other seniors are suffering from conditions that make communicating their pain difficult like memory or hearing loss. Despite these obstacles, chronic pain is often easily and inexpensively treatable. It’s important for seniors to report chronic pain to their physicians and loved ones.
Signs of Chronic Pain
Signs that a senior (or anyone) is in pain and might not be willing or able to tell you include:
- Tightly closed eyes
- Lowered levels of activity
- Decreased appetite
- Insomnia or troubled sleep
- Rigid movement
- Clenched fists
- Groaning when moved
- Inexplicable Tears
If you see any of these symptoms, it’s important to encourage seniors to explain what is going on. Pain that goes unreported and untreated can have significant consequence including depression and anxiety.
Managing chronic pain can be handled in a variety of ways:
- See a doctor who is certified in board certified pain management.
- Look into interventional therapy programs that could help you manage the underlying cause of the chronic pain. For example, certain exercises can help reduce back pain.
- Walking, yoga and meditation can help.
- Dialog with other people who have experienced the same pain and ask how they’ve managed it. Support groups can help.
- Believe it or not, simple love and care can help someone feel better. Isolation can make pain feel worse.
At the Reutlinger Community, we work with residents to make sure that they don’t suffer in silence. Part of that is simply having a knowledgeable and personable staff that knows each resident well enough to be able to talk with them about how they are feeling and to recognize signs of chronic pain when they are reticent.
To learn more about how we manage pain, visit us at rcjl.org or call us at 925-648-2800.