Pain Management in Seniors
— August 3rd, 2019
There are many misconceptions, myths and stereotypes about pain in seniors. The most common response we may hear from seniors is: “I’m getting old, that’s why I have already so much aches and pains.” A person’s tolerance and expressions of pain is influenced by culture, ethnic origin, family and personal characteristics.
It is important to remember that aches and pains are not part of aging.
Pain is a subjective complaint as the patient can only perceive and describe the pain. Pain is a message that is perceived by the body, entailing that something is wrong and needs attention. Accurately assessing pain and evaluating care can be challenging, especially for seniors who have communication and cognitive difficulties. In assessing pain, it is important to ask the patient to describe the pain, such as pain sensation (sharp, throbbing), location of pain, the intensity, the trigger, frequency, and any pain medication taken and its effectiveness.
For patient who has communication and cognitive decline, it affects the mood, sleep and daily activities. Determine the baseline and compare if there are any recent changes. Is your senior loved one becoming restless in the morning or had interrupted sleep overnight, or maybe does he/she not want to get up in the morning? It is important to report to your doctor or nurse if they noticed any recent changes. The problem must be accurately assessed. Give caution in administering over the counter medication. In senior population, its common that they are taking other medications for other chronic health problems. Their metabolism is slower, so medication is processed slower by the liver and excreted by kidneys. As a result, this may cause adverse reactions or side effects if medications are not compatible and have reached the body system at the same time. Consult your pharmacist or your family physician before taking over the counter medications.
There are tools and strategies to accurately assess, diagnose, plan, manage and evaluate pain. Pain does not go with age but when a senior experience pain, it significantly affects their performance in activities of daily living. Assessing and managing pain timely and effectively contributes to the maintenance of high quality of life for your senior loved one.
Geri Health Home Care can assist you in collaboration with your family physician in assessing your pain. We provide you the support you need when the intensity of pain interferes with your activities of daily living. Call us at 416-431-6266.