Many aches and pains are a natural part of getting older; however, this doesn’t always have to be the case. Being proactive and taking good care of your body helps reduce chronic pain and associated discomfort. September is Pain Awareness Month and a reminder for seniors to speak up if they are experiencing ongoing pain. Open and honest communication may identify problems early and can help seniors, their caregivers, and their healthcare providers to be more proactive in reducing pain and enhancing quality of life.
One strategy to stay on top of pain is to remain active. Exercises don’t have to be strenuous to be effective. Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, walking, swimming, and biking all help to keep your muscles moving and build strength and flexibility. Activities you may participate in with friends help with safety, motivation and socialization. Physical therapy and regular exercise is an excellent source of discomfort relief and may enhance the body’s natural production of endorphins, which block pain, but are also responsible for our feelings of pleasure.
Another natural element in reducing pain is your diet. Certain foods can trigger inflammation while others reduce it. Know your body and how it responds to specific foods. Foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, and flavonoids can be beneficial. Adding spices such as ginger, turmeric, and chili powder adds flavor and decreases inflammation. Additional foods to add to your diet include fish, blueberries, raspberries, black beans, tomatoes, dark leafy vegetables, and green tea. A healthy diet also helps with weight management, another factor in managing pain.
Practicing meditation clears the mind and support pain management. It allows seniors to focus on the mind-body connection and deep breathing. Though this may not seem like much, many people find it helps them to overcome pain and keep a more positive attitude. Being able to relax the body and mind releases tension that can build up in muscles and contribute to pain. Practice mindfulness, the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. There are classes throughout the country all about mindfulness and meditation.
Massage or acupuncture may also help relieve pain naturally by alleviating tension in the muscles, improving blood flow, and restoring positive energy flow through the body. Massage is used to promote relaxation and well-being and is beneficial in treating musculature of the body such as postural misalignment and many painful conditions. Go to your local salon or spa to book a massage.
If seniors are taking prescription or over-the-counter medications for pain relief, they should talk to their doctor about potential health risks and interactions with other medications. Seniors’ bodies may respond differently than young adults and process these drugs differently. There is also the risk for substance misuse or addiction. An in-home caregiver can support proper medication management and keep seniors safer as they navigate around their home and community.
Pain is a sign that there is an underlying problem that should be addressed. By treating pain when it occurs and taking steps to improve flexibility, balance, mobility, and stress reduction, seniors can be more proactive in managing pain and leading an active lifestyle. With the support of an in-home caregiver, seniors stay more active, prepare healthy meals, and receive reminders for appointments and medications. In addition, a caregiver can help them to schedule doctors’ appointments should they experience pain. To learn more about supportive senior services such as in-home care, contact Always Best Care at (267) 217-7059 or email David Baim, firstname.lastname@example.org.