Photo via Pixabay by Geralt
Caring for a loved one who suffers from chronic pain can be overwhelming at times even for the most patient individuals. It’s important to remember, however, that there are certain things to take into consideration when caring for someone who is in pain for most of their day, including the fact that believing in their suffering is imperative.
It’s hard for us to understand the nature of someone else’s pain, especially when everyone registers it differently--even when they suffer from the same condition. Chronic pain can affect a person’s ability to function in everyday activities, their ability to work, take care of themselves, and maintain their health. For some, chronic issues lead to substance abuse as the individual tries to cope with their feelings and manage the pain.
Here are some of the best ways you can help a loved one who is suffering.
Do your research
Learn what you can about healthy pain management, including physical therapy, massage, yoga, meditation, and acupuncture. While these techniques aren’t right for everyone, one or more of them may work for your loved one. Consult their doctor to make sure they are able to start a new pain management regimen.
It’s important that you learn to accept cues from your loved one when they are in the worst pain. They may not be able to vocalize it, so look for visual cues such as facial expressions or stiff movements. Offer to help them minimize the pain by giving a massage or helping them get their medication. If it’s helpful, keep a log of the days and times when the pain is worst and what activities were happening beforehand. This is something you can show your loved one’s doctor.
Optimize good health
Talk to your loved one and find out what their daily habits are. Exercise and a healthy diet can go a long way toward making a person feel better, so perhaps fitting in a walk, a swim, or physical therapy every day will help minimize pain. Refined sugars and drugs or alcohol are all things that need to be cut from a healthy lifestyle; if you feel your loved one has a substance abuse problem, talk to them about it. Often, prescription medication can become addictive without the individual realizing it.
Familiarize yourself with signs of depression
People living with chronic pain are at risk for depression and even suicidal thoughts, so it’s imperative that you familiarize yourself with the warning signs. If your loved one has begun to isolate themselves from friends and family, is sleeping too much or too little, has lost or gained a significant amount of weight, or has sudden violent mood swings, it’s possible they are suffering from depression. This needs to be addressed in addition to their chronic pain; don’t be afraid to bring it up and offer to help them find a doctor or therapist.
Take care of yourself
It’s easy to burn out when taking care of someone else’s needs all the time, so make time for yourself, too. Take a half hour per day to read, get outside, or take a long hot bath and focus on your own needs.
Jennifer McGregor is a pre-med student, who loves providing reliable health and medical resources. She is the co-creator of PublicHealthLibrary.org which was created to help spread reputable health information.If you're looking for a comprehensive resource for family caregivers, check out our online Family Caregiver Guide.