Depending on the source, research indicates that anywhere from 25% to over 80% of seniors experience chronic pain. Many conditions common with aging cause pain and inflammation, limiting mobility and affecting the long-term quality of life. Yet there are many safe and effective ways to manage chronic pain in older adults. These methods are all most effective when applied through the cooperation of the senior, their caretakers, and any doctors involved.
Daystar has the expert staff to help seniors work through any issues of chronic pain. You won’t need to worry about your loved one or track their medications yourself once you have a trusted staff on your side to help. Daystar is here to ensure you and your elderly loved ones receive the care needed for managing pain as best as possible.
What Factors Worsen Pain in Older Adults?
All chronic pain isn’t the same, and there are many secondary factors that determine how much pain is felt at any time. Improving these factors can make a big difference in chronic pain in older adults without the need for medication. Even when pain medication is needed, addressing these issues can make any treatment more effective, giving seniors more relief from their pain with fewer side effects. Common chronic pain complications include:
- Reduced mobility and movement issues that make it hard to stay active
- Uncontrolled or poorly controlled conditions like diabetes, arthritis, and lupus
- Food aversions or eating issues that can be addressed with nutritional assistance and dental care
- Medications or conditions that change the perception of pain in seniors without actually reducing it
- Bathing and self-care issues that lead to infections or skin damage
- Medication-induced pain or fatigue, which may disappear with changes or adjustments
- Mental health conditions like isolation, anxiety and depression can worsen chronic pain.
It takes caretakers, loved ones, and medical professionals working together to identify all of these factors in a senior’s life. But with the potential for reduction in pain, it’s well worth the effort to make these lifestyle and health changes and learn how to cope with grief first before turning to medication and other therapies.
Safe Pain Management in Older Adults
As with the millions of younger adults dealing with chronic pain each year, most pain management in the elderly requires medication. There are many safe and trusted pain medications that seniors can use, even with secondary conditions. However, seniors are likely to take at least other medication(s) that could interact with these pain treatments. It’s important that all medications are tracked, discussed with, and approved by a medical professional and potential interactions are investigated before anything is changed in the senior’s routine. In addition to pain medication, there are three other main techniques recommended for safe pain management at all ages.
1. Chronic Pain Medication
Over-the-counter medicine like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and acetaminophen are the first recommended treatments for chronic pain, even when it’s severe. Acetaminophen in particular has the best compatibility with other medications a senior may take or conditions they may have. NSAIDs are widely used for inflammation control in particular among elderly adults, but they’re not a good idea for every patient. Prescription pain medication, and even opioids, can be safer than NSAIDs for dealing with severe pain or in seniors with liver or kidney problems.
2. Pain Management in Elderly Adults with Physical Therapy
Getting active isn’t easy when seniors are dealing with fall risks, arthritis, hip replacements, and more. Other types of physical therapy are usually recommended instead if stretching and working muscle groups are recommended for reducing particular types of pain. This can be as simple as the application of ice and heat, practices many seniors can undertake on their own. Learning physical ways to reduce inflammation and pain is often the first step in reducing medication that could cause other unwanted side effects.
3. Active Medication Management
It’s not enough to simply secure a prescription for pain medications and make them available to a senior. There any many reasons why they may not take the right amount of medicine or take it on time, including:
- Cultural beliefs about pain that make them uncomfortable taking medicine for their pain
- Memory issues or dementia that simply make it impossible for them to remember
- Unfamiliarity with the safety of taking too much or too little of certain medications
- Confusion about which medicine is which or when a dose has been taken for the day, resulting in under or overdosing.
Seniors need tailored prescriptions because they tend to have lower weights and lower body fat ratios than other age groups, resulting in different medication absorption rates and effects. Active medication management plans begin with careful prescribing and include monitoring for side effects and potential interactions, with adjustments made as necessary. Surgeries or other treatments may require a temporary increase or reduction in medication. Daystar’s knowledgeable staff can help by ensuring your loved ones receive their medications on time so they can’t forget and ensure they are taking medications that don’t interact negatively with one another.
4. Secondary Medications like Antidepressants
Some chronic pain requires a different approach, especially in seniors that don’t respond well to pain medications. Indirect medication techniques include using antidepressants and anticonvulsants, which are known to help with persistent nerve and neuropathy pain in particular. These types of chronic pain can resist other treatments and require increasingly higher doses of potentially risky medicines like fentanyl. Using other types of medication can help reduce inflammation and reduce pain levels without as many side effects as long-term pain medication use.
When managing the world of health issues, medications and chronic pain for you or your senior, know that at Daystar, you won’t have to worry about getting the care you need. Daystar Retirement Village is ready to support you or your senior in their journey to deal with chronic pain and enjoy their golden years. We offer medication management and more to ensure they’re as comfortable as possible. We offer a wide range of personal care and medical services as well to address the underlying factors that can lead to worsening chronic pain. Contact us today to learn more about what we have to offer to the seniors in our beautiful community setting.