Questions And Observations Are A Reliable Way To Know If Your Senior Loved One Is Experiencing Pain
Pain is your body’s way of telling you that there’s a problem. Pegasus senior care professionals in Chatsworth and elsewhere know that individuals don’t always express how they’re feeling. Their tips can help you know if your senior loved one is experiencing pain.
Pain Is A Symptom That Takes Many Forms
Descriptions of pain vary among individuals. They report throbbing, sharp, relentless, sporadic, or dozens of other sensations. It can range from inconvenient to debilitating.
Acute pain is typically short-lived. It usually results from an injury or trauma. Chronic pain is long-lasting and generally due to an underlying medical condition.
Pain can cause a person to become nauseous, dizzy, or weak. It can also wreak havoc on emotional health, leading to feelings such as anger or depression. For many, pain steals away their independence.
Your loved one may attribute their pain to old age. While they are likely not as spry or energetic as they once were, feeling “poorly” is not inevitable. Pain is a symptom, not a disease, and it can be eased.
Some Seniors Fear Negative Consequences If They Admit They Have Pain
Increased years lead to some of the conditions that generate pain. These include diseases such as arthritis, cancer, or diabetes. Your senior loved one may not tell you they’re experiencing pain, often out of fear.
They may be afraid of testing that is invasive or that could yield a negative diagnosis. They may fear going to a hospital, especially in these days of COVID-19. Many don’t want to have to take additional medications, even if they’ll feel better later.
Your senior might think that they’ll be a burden if they tell you they’re in pain. Or they might think you will put them in a facility. Some elderly believe they will be told that their pain is all in their head or that they’re a hypochondriac.
Your senior might have grown up in a time when refusing to admit to pain was a source of pride. They believe the best pain treatment is ignoring it. They overcome it with a “stiff upper lip.”
Some physicians agree with that mindset and tell seniors to “get used to it” when they report pain. Those doctors generally resist prescribing pain medications. Your loved one is also aware that their contemporaries may view them as weaklings if they accept pain relief.
Ask Questions About How They Are Feeling
As a family caregiver, start by asking your loved one questions about how they’re feeling. Listen to their responses without judgment and respect their fears. Use their answers as a springboard for additional questions.
Strive for open-ended questions. Try asking if they feel discomfort anywhere. Telling them to rate how they feel on a scale of one to ten generally isn’t helpful.
For example, they may mention pain in their hip. If they say it hurts “all the time,” ask when it hurts the most. Ask if anything they do makes it feel better.
Try to ascertain how the pain feels and when they first noticed it. Ask about any recent events that they haven’t yet revealed to you. They may have fallen and didn’t want to admit it.
Talk to them about how they’re sleeping. Pain can lead to restless nights. Sleep deprivation in turn can increase pain.
Use Your Observations To Know If Your Loved One Is Experiencing Pain
You may need to rely on your observations if your loved one remains stoic. Has there been a decrease in mobility? Have they lost their appetite?
Do they seem anxious for no discernible reason? Are they evasive about how they’re managing day to day activities? Are they irritable or exhibiting other uncharacteristic behaviors?
Do they seem depressed? One indication of pain is social isolation. Try to determine whether the isolation is due to the pandemic restrictions rather than pain.
You face a greater challenge if your loved one is cognitively impaired. Your observations will potentially be of the most value to you. Consider:
- Body movements – rigidity, tense posture, fidgeting, rocking
- Changes in activities – refusing food, increased wandering, sleeping more or less, withdrawing
- Facial expressions – grimacing, pinched-up or distorted expressions, wrinkled forehead
- Interactions with others – aggressive, combative, resistant, inappropriate activity
- Mental/emotional changes – crying, distress, anxiety, increased confusion
- Vocalizations – groaning, moaning, crying out, sighing, abusive outbursts
Some of these may be due to their impairment and communication difficulties rather than pain. The key is to look at changes from your usual observations. If your senior is verbal, try questions with yes or no answers.
If your loved one isn’t verbal or able to express themselves coherently, you may need to rely on touch. Gently press an area that seems to be a source of pain and evaluate their response. Look also for areas of swelling or redness to discover injuries or infection.
Pegasus is a licensed Home Care Organization and a Joint Commission Accredited Home Health Care organization. Our senior care services in Chatsworth and our other locations include pain management. Our professionals can help you know if your loved one is experiencing pain and assist in obtaining necessary treatment.