Helping a Senior Loved One Manage Chronic Pain

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Chronic pain can be mentally and physically exhausting. Unlike acute pain, which is tied to a specific issue like surgery or an injury, chronic pain lasts for more than six months. It can negatively impact quality of life.

Researchers believe many types of long-term pain are linked to inflammation in the body. Food choices and activity level are two factors that play an essential role in keeping inflammation at bay.

2 Techniques for Preventing Inflammation

Adopting a healthy lifestyle that combines smart food choices and exercise might help you better manage pain.

  • Inflammation-fighting foods: Incorporating inflammation-fighting foods into your diet is essential. A few easy ones to add are tomatoes, leafy greens, fatty fish, berries, citrus fruit, tart cherries, almonds, walnuts, ginger, raisins, and olive oil. Each of these foods is known for reducing inflammation. By contrast, some foods are well-known for causing inflammation. Avoid fried foods, red meat, margarine, bread, pasta, candy, baked goods, and sodas.
  • Physical activity: A sedentary lifestyle can worsen inflammation and chronic pain. While it’s difficult to get moving when you are in pain, exercise is a great way to reduce inflammation. Ask your doctor what physical activities they recommend. They might refer you to a physical therapist to learn a few targeted range of motion exercises. Also ask about water aerobics in a heated pool, Tai Chi, yoga, walking, and Pilates.

Despite your best attempts at prevention, there will likely be times when pain and inflammation still slow you down. A few non-pharmacological alternatives you might find helpful, especially if you are suffering from arthritis, include:

  • Alternating hot and cold therapy: Many arthritis sufferers find applying heat to damaged joints lessens pain. Newer research shows alternating between hot and cold therapies might be even better. Cold packs can reduce inflammation while heat eases discomfort. If you are struggling with chronic pain caused by inflammation, this approach might be worth trying.
  • Paraffin wax dips: For many seniors, chronic pain is worse in hands, wrists, ankles, and feet. At home, heated paraffin dips may be a solution. The equipment and supplies are fairly inexpensive and easy to use. Another option to consider is rice-and-lavender-filled gloves and booties. Heat them up in the microwave and place them on hands and feet for pain relief.

Thriving During Retirement

At Five Star Senior Living communities, we understand the important role nutrition and exercise play in wellness. That’s why we take a holistic approach to active community living. We call it Lifestyle360.

Through this program, we focus on the five dimensions of wellness: intellectual, spiritual, social, emotional, and physical. We encourage you to call the Five Star community closest to you to learn more today!