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Addressing Pain in Seniors

By Meghana Giridhar
September 29

September is Pain Awareness Month. Aging is often associated with pain. Seniors sometimes fail to address pain making it a highly under-treated issue. Acute pain and chronic pain have a clear distinction. Typically, acute pain lasts for less than 30 days whereas chronic pain can extend up to 6 months and can cause psychological problems. Common pain areas among seniors include: •    Nerve pain when nerve fibers get damaged •    Chest pain •    Burns •    Pinched nerve pain •    Foot pain •    Hand pain •    Knee Pain •    Lower Leg Pain •    Pelvic Pain •    Elbow Pain •    Low Back Pain A doctor should be contacted immediately if a senior: •    Feels depressed •    Experiences interrupted sleep •    A healed injury still hurts •    Pain on any part of the body persists for more than 3 months without a clear reason, according to WebMD Different doctors can tackle pain depending on the extent. One of the following would be the right person to talk to: •    Family doctor •    Physician assistant who practices medicine under a doctor’s supervision •    Osteopathic physician, a doctor who usually focuses on medicine or surgery Specialists for chronic pain include: •    Pain management specialist •    Physiatrist, a doctor who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation •    Physical therapist Treatment: Before taking steps, pain management doctors typically watch symptoms and suggest steps such as exercise to ascertain if that reduces the pain. However, if pain interferes with daily activities, additional tests will be performed. Some common tests include: •    CT or CAT scans that use X-rays and computers to produce an image of a cross-section of the body. •    MRI or magnetic resonance imaging produces very clear pictures of the body without the use of X-rays.     •    EMG to evaluate the activity of the muscles. •    Bone scans to diagnose and monitor infection, fracture, or other disorders in the bone. •    Ultrasound imaging also called ultrasound scanning or sonography uses high-frequency sound waves to obtain images inside the body. Lifestyle Changes: Managing pain is a lifetime process for some. Making small lifestyle changes can have a long-term positive impact. •    Meditation: This helps the body relax and ease pain as the tension from muscles reduces. •    Destress: Anxiety, anger, frustration, grief strengths the feelings of pain. To gain control over negative feelings, it is recommended to resort to calming music or progressive muscle relaxation. •    Exercise: Endorphins are brain chemicals that block pain signals. Exercise boosts endorphins and also has other benefits such as weight control and better control over blood sugar levels. •    Reduce alcohol consumption: Too much alcohol can lead to insomnia that can increase pain. It is advised to cut down on alcohol consumption to help with sleep. •    No smoking: Smoking leads to circulation problems and increases the risk of heart disease and cancer. •    Well-balanced diet: A low-fat, low-sodium consisting of fresh fruit, vegetables, wholegrain breads can help strengthen muscles and reduce pain. Gaining control over pain is possible only when you consult a doctor who best understands it and can help you manage it. That will enable seniors maximize the possibility of a rich, fulfilled life. References: Meghana Giridhar serves as Content Manager and is part of eCareDiary's founding team. In her role, she oversees and edits content across all of eCareDiary's media platforms.

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Support Systems for Sandwich Caregivers

October 6

eCareDiary will speak to Carole Brecht and Jan Steinle nee Reisman, Co-founders of the Sandwich Woman about the biggest gaps in support for caregivers and their involvement with social media to create resources.

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