Whether it is caused by arthritis, cancer treatment or an injury caused by a fall, pain management can be an integral part of senior care. With September being recognized as National Pain Awareness Month, health care experts are going to lengths to help older adults keep their pain at bay. Specifically, the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization hopes to reduce any myths associated with pain in an effort to help seniors find relief and enjoy the benefits of independent living.
Not a natural part of aging
One of the biggest misconceptions associated with pain management is that it's an inevitable part of growing older. While some conditions, such as osteoarthritis, are the result of wear and tear on the bones and joints and may be exacerbated with age, experts say seniors are not powerless against discomfort. In fact, inaction can result in increased pain. There are often remedies available outside of medical intervention. Physical therapy can often be effective, especially in the case of osteoarthritis. Other alternative treatments can work wonders, including massage therapy and acupuncture.
"Good pain management improves quality of life, and in most cases it is possible to manage pain, and that's why we want to increase public awareness about the issue," said J. Donald Schumacher, president and CEO of the NHPCO.
Not just physical effects
Although physical pain can cause limitations to mobility and threaten a senior's independence, the emotional impact can also weigh heavily on the well-being of older adults. For instance, pain can disrupt sleep patterns, cause increased irritably and impact both memory and cognitive function. Furthermore, anxiety, depression and fatigue can greatly effect the quality of life for seniors, the American Osteopathic Association notes.
Lifestyle plays a role
Seniors can be proactive when it comes to pain management, and what better time than National Pain Awareness Month to taking the appropriate steps to reducing discomfort? Although it might be challenging to move around while contending with pain. A sedentary lifestyle can greatly exacerbate symptoms. Additionally, generally unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as smoking and excessive or lack of sleep, can have an impact. Food can also help with pain management, with salmon, coffee and turmeric all containing compounds that can alleviate symptoms.