Angels Care Home Health Provides Tips for Managing Pain as You Age
If you have suffered from pain for several months or longer, you are among the millions of Americans with a condition known as chronic pain. Despite decades of research, chronic pain remains complex and difficult to treat.
Chronic pain can be so debilitating that it disrupts daily activities, such as eating and sleeping, causes anxiety and depression, and compromises quality of life. Since chronic pain grows more prevalent with age, seniors and the elderly are especially at risk.
Nearly 50 million Americans have chronic pain, according to the American Pain Foundation. Sometimes the pain is caused by a specific injury or surgical incision that has long since healed, other times there may be no apparent reason for the pain. However, many cases of chronic pain are related to these 7 conditions: Low back pain, arthritis (especially osteoarthritis), headache, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, shingles, and nerve damage.
The good news is that chronic pain can be managed successfully. There are a variety of treatments available. Some treatments come in the form of prescription medicines that you can get from your doctor, others can be found over-the-counter. And then there are some treatments that don’t involve pharmaceuticals at all.
Angels Care Home Health understands the importance of managing pain and provides the following tips and information about the various ways to manage pain in the hopes that if you or someone you love is suffering, you will have a better understanding of some of the pain relief options available to you to discuss with your healthcare provider. Prescription Medicines There are four main types of prescription pain relievers used to treat pain, including: • Corticosteroids. Treat swelling, redness, itching, and allergic reactions; may be prescribed for allergies, asthma, or arthritis; • Opioids (Narcotics). Treat acute pain such as short-term pain after surgery; • Antidepressants. Treat chronic headaches like migraines; • Anticonvulsants. Treat nerve pain-related conditions like fibromyalgia and peripheral neuropathy.
Over-The-Counter Medicines Some common over-the-counter medicines that can provide relief from your pain include: • Acetaminophen (Tylenol). Relieves fever and aches; recommended for arthritis pain. • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Include aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen; treat the pain, inflammation, and swelling related to rheumatoid arthritis.
As people age, they are at risk for developing more serious side effects from medication. Due to this risk, it is important to take exactly the amount of pain medicine your doctor prescribes.
Also, mixing any pain medication with alcohol or other drugs, such as tranquilizers, can be dangerous. Make sure your doctor knows all the medicines you take, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs and herbal supplements, as well as the amount of alcohol you drink.
Non-Pharmaceutical Treatments for Pain In addition to drugs, it may take both medicine and other treatments to feel better. There are a variety of complementary and alternative approaches that may provide relief from pain, such as: • Acupuncture. Uses hair-thin needles to stimulate specific points on the body to relieve pain. • Biofeedback. Helps you learn to control your heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tension. This may help reduce your pain and stress level. • Electrical nerve stimulation. Uses electrical impulses in order to relieve pain. • Massage therapy. Can release tension in tight muscles. • Physical therapy. Uses a variety of techniques to help manage everyday activities with less pain and teaches you ways to improve flexibility and strength.
Helping Yourself If you’re living with chronic pain, you want to do everything you can to help your body, not hinder it. Aside from medications, there are other things you can do yourself that might help you feel better, including.
• Eating a well-balanced diet.
• Maintaining a healthy weight.
• Keeping moving.
• Getting enough sleep.
• Joining a pain support group.
• Seeing a pain specialist.
• Avoiding tobacco, caffeine, and alcohol, which can get in the way of treatment and increase pain.
• Keeping a pain journal.
Overall, knowing and understanding the medications you’re taking, what they can do for you, and their side effects, plus educating yourself about other treatment options is your goal to helping you have a normal mood and activity level and work towards managing your pain. Most important is to be proactive and discuss all options with your physician. Be proactive, ask questions and look for answers. If you or a loved one are suffering from chronic pain and want to learn more, contact Angels Care Home Health today for more information about its Pain Management Program, community education classes or to discuss the benefits of home health service at 712-263-2266 or visit angelscarehealth.com.
Am I dehydrated? This is a common question we hear from many people around the community.
Summertime can be a dangerous time, especially if you’re a senior. Older adults often experience varying degrees of dehydration, which, in extreme cases, can be life-threatening. As temperatures outside rise, the risk of dehydration rises with it.
The best defense against dehydration is prevention, but understanding what hydration means and the symptoms are key factors for protecting against dehydration. Angels Care Home Health is committed to keeping its patients and the communities they serve healthy. To help prepare to “Beat the Heat” and know what actions to take, Angels Care Home Health provides the following helpful information and prevention tips:
What Does Hydration Mean?
The body needs water to survive. In fact, the body is made up of 55-60 percent water according to the Centers for Disease Control. Every cell, tissue, and organ in the body must have water to work properly. For example, the body uses water to maintain its temperature, remove waste, and lubricate your joints. Water is needed for overall good health. When there isn’t enough fluid in the body, it becomes dehydrated.
Physical Changes that Affect Hydration
As we age, the ability to feel thirst lessens with age so seniors may not realize when they need to drink more.
Seniors also may find they have to use the bathroom more often, so they are losing more fluid. In the elderly, body water content begins to fall and muscle mass declines. Muscle holds water, but fat does not, so as a
person ages, their body water decreases. These problems are intensified by chronic illnesses such as diabetes, kidney disease, and dementia. Additionally, medications that increase urination or help constipation can also cause dehydration.
Tips for Staying Hydrated:
• Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink; by this time you are already dehydrated.
• Suck on ice cubes or ice pops.
• Carry a water bottle with you and drink from it regularly.
• Drink at least eight cups of water every day.
• Drink extra in extreme heat to replace the water lost from sweating.
• Eat foods high in water content, such as fruits and vegetables.
• Do not replace water with alcohol or anything with caffeine, including coffee, tea, or colas. Caffeine may cause increased urination.
• Know the symptoms of dehydration. Dehydration is a common cause of hospitalization among elderly people, according to the Cleveland Clinic partly because the symptoms of dehydration in the elderly often go unrecognized.
Symptoms of Dehydration:
• Dry mouth
• Dark yellow urine
Action: Drink water
• Feeling of blacking out when sitting up or standing
• Muscle weakness or cramps
• Sunken eyes
• Low blood pressure
• Increased heart rate
Action: Go to the ER or contact your physician right away
In addition to fluids, people can beat the heat with their fork. While about 80 percent of daily fluid intake comes from drinks, about 20 percent of daily fluid intake usually comes from food. The top three hydrating foods according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s nutrient database are cucumbers, celery, and iceberg lettuce. These weigh in at 95 percent water by weight. Other foods high on the list include zucchini,
watermelon, strawberries, and cauliflower.
If someone has chronic dehydration and it is related to their lifestyle, occupation, or diet, they can work with their healthcare provider to make changes that make dehydration less likely. Most importantly, if someone has a chronic medical condition, such as congestive heart failure, it is important for them to talk with their doctor about how much fluid is needed to help prevent or minimize the risks for dehydration.
Overall, most seniors are unprepared for the health implications of Summer, specifically the changes that can occur from dehydration. Contact Angels Care Home Health about how to stay healthy this Summer, or the benefits of home health care service at 712-263-2266 or visit angelscarehealth.com.