Science hasn’t yet discovered a way to halt the aging process (and its less-than-glamorous side effects) entirely. Most people will inevitably encounter problems with the aging process, regardless of how well-balanced their diets are or how much they exercise.
For seniors, the changes brought on by the aging process are all-encompassing. Some of the aging process’ effects are physically apparent, i.e., skin losing its elasticity, hair falling out or greying, etc., while others are more discreet. Unfortunately, these are some of the milder symptoms associated with aging.
However, the most unpleasant consequences of aging are those related to reduced bodily function and muscular deterioration. How does the aging process interfere with a senior citizen’s body function? During peak golden years, elderly folks report a loss of vision, hearing loss, the development of respiratory and circulatory issues, and the onset of gastrointestinal problems.
In most cases, these seniors spend the most time complaining about mobility loss and the onset of chronic pain. These are problems that result from changes in the bones, joints, and muscles.
Loss of bone density is one of the primary causes of brittle bones, brought on by the decrease of calcium and other minerals that promote bone health. As for a senior’s joints, the production of protective fluids that insulate the tendons and ligaments slows, causing wear and tear on the tendons and ligaments, stiff joints, and unbearable pain levels. If diagnosed with degenerative joint disease, elderly folks should expect the protective disks between their vertebrae to wear down.
As for an elderly patient’s muscles, muscle fiber deterioration occurs primarily due to nutrition issues and the lack of exercise, stirring a vicious circle. Because a senior’s mobility will inevitably decrease, they’ll lose muscle tone, exacerbating existing muscle fiber deterioration. Deteriorating muscles translates to limited mobility.
All of these bodily changes are worth mentioning, as they’re the primary culprits of chronic pain. When an older person suffers from chronic pain, it stands to rob them of their quality of life. They stay stationary and prefer not to move as a way of avoiding pain. Eventually, the onset of chronic pain leads to mental and psychological problems and further physical health problems due to a lack of exercise. As stated above, it’s all-encompassing.
How to manage life-altering chronic pain
The aging process is a normal part of life. However, seniors should not have to endure pain while advancing into the next stage of life. Pain management for seniors is necessary to help them maintain an active lifestyle. The good news is there are several strategies seniors can use to manage pain. Here are five examples:
- Improve Sleep Habits
- Physical Therapy
- Pain Medications
- Soothing Heat
- TENS Therapy
Improve sleep habits
Getting a good night’s sleep should be a top priority for senior citizens struggling with medical challenges, including chronic pain issues. A terrific sleeping solution for seniors is a state-of-the-art bed like this that users can easily adjust for optimal comfort.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult for seniors to sleep when they can’t find a position that doesn’t aggravate their pain issues. With an adjustable bed, they can make adjustments until they find a sleep position that allows them to sleep free of pain. Remember, it’s easier for seniors to focus on improving their health if they’re well-rested.
Even though a senior’s capacity to exercise diminishes, the body’s need for exercise continues. An excellent alternative for seniors is some type of physical therapy. An elderly individual can undoubtedly benefit from having a physical therapist, as these trained professionals can help seniors regain mobility. Other good pain management therapeutic options for seniors include massage therapy for seniors, acupuncture treatments, and chiropractic adjustments to improve back health.
All these options aim to keep the elderly individual’s body stimulated, helping combat the pain that comes from immobility.
When pain issues begin to disrupt a senior’s day-to-day life, these elderly folks can rely on pain medications as a chronic pain treatment alternative. With that said, caution is warranted when giving seniors pain medication.
It’s important to note that the average senior takes as many as nine medications a day, which can put a lot of stress on their circulatory and digestive systems. In a senior’s golden years, there’s an increased risk of an overdose, as aging causes the human body to metabolize drugs at a slower rate. Therefore, administer these doses of pain medication with a watchful eye.
When seniors experience muscle pain, they can’t always run out and get a therapeutic massage. However, there are self-treatment methods known to relieve debilitating muscle pain.
The secret is some form of heat treatment in the area from where the pain is radiating. While a warm bath or shower might help, applying a heating pad can yield consistently shocking results by relaxing muscles and soothing nerve pain.
TENS is an acronym for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. TENS therapy involves a medical device that comes with two electrodes. When connecting these two electrodes to an area from where the pain is radiating, it provides low electric impulses that stimulate the local nerves, lowering pain levels.
Don’t settle for a life defined by chronic pain. After all, your golden years are an opportunity to embark on newfound adventures and enjoy the whims of retirement life. Whatever your pain management strategy, realize that chronic pain doesn’t have to be your new normal.