5 Ways to Help an Older Adult Manage Chronic Pain

Sunrise Senior Living  |  August 13, 2020
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If you are one of the 20.4 percent of adults in this country living with chronic pain, you know how exhausting it can be. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that almost 20 million people have pain so severe it interferes with daily life. Because of the opioid epidemic, physicians are increasingly reluctant to utilize pharmacological solutions. For those left suffering, it’s a frustrating situation.

If you or a senior you are caring for struggle with chronic pain, we hope these 5 tips will be of help.

Natural Remedies for Chronic Pain

1. Be mindful of diet: What you eat can either increase or decrease inflammation in the body. It’s important to understand which foods are good and which to avoid. That’s because inflammation is known to ramp up pain, especially for those suffering from osteoarthritis. Inflammation-Fighting Foods that Help Manage Chronic Diseases is a good resource to review and learn more.

2. Keep moving: Depending upon the type of pain you live with, low-impact physical activity might be another solution to explore. While exercising might be the last thing you want to do when you are hurting, it can actually be one of the best ways to manage chronic pain naturally. It helps keep muscles and joints limber and strong. This aids in preventing and reducing inflammation. Walking, chair yoga, and swimming are a few of the best forms of exercise for older adults. Check with the nearest chapter of the Arthritis Foundation to see if they partner with any local fitness clubs to offer water aerobics in a heated therapy pool. As is true of any new exercise program, talk to your doctor before starting.

3. Practice cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): Another method to consider is referred to as cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT is used to help improve the lives of people with both physical and mental health conditions. The patient works with a therapist to learn techniques for redirecting the mind when pain is high. A therapist can teach a variety of tools, including deep breathing techniques and meditation.

4. Manage stress: It might not surprise you to learn that stress increases pain. Learning how to relax is good for your overall well-being, and for managing chronic pain. Explore different methods of beating stress until you find a few that work well. Guided meditation, music, and progressive muscle relaxation are a few that work well for many people.

5. Avoid negative behaviors: When someone is in pain for a good part of their day, it’s easy to turn to negative behaviors as a way of coping. Smoking and overconsumption of alcohol are two common ones. The reality is, both can actually increase pain. They can contribute to sleep problems, increase inflammation, and increase the risk for other serious health conditions.

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