Perhaps we need more words for pain, since that simple four-letter word doesn’t come anywhere close to describing the entire spectrum of negative sensations that we may experience, from a minor, brief ache if we stub our toe to the chronic all-over pain that can wear us down and make it hard to keep going or even get started each day. At Accredited Home Care, we know that many of the clients we work with are going through different amounts of pain, and it might even change throughout the day.
We also know how tiring it can be to deal with any type of pain day-in and day-out, and how in some cases, constant physical pain can translate into mental or emotional pain.
Many of our elderly clients in the Long Beach area have all sorts of experiences with pain, everything from lingering aches from injuries sustained much earlier in life to recent trauma or illnesses. Or in some cases, simple wear and tear due to the aging process can contribute to increasing amounts of pain.
This month is an excellent opportunity to be more aware of the varying amounts of pain people are going through.
The American Chronic Pain Association has designated September as National Pain Awareness Month, which is an occasion to offer support and encouragement to people experiencing chronic pain, plus providers who are looking for ways to help people. It’s a perfect time to point out community resources for pain relief and management.
The month’s focus also encourages healthy dialogue and sharing between health care providers, patients, various associations and organizations that provide pain options and advocacy, plus caregivers.
Role of caregivers
Caregivers are often on the front line of pain management as they try to make their patients’ lives as comfortable as possible.
While they don’t have a primary role in how a patient manages their pain, they can help them with tasks related to it, like reminding them to take their medication at certain times or days, or making recommendations to their provider if a certain dosage might need to be adjusted if pain levels are changing or there are any side-effects or related reactions.
Caregivers may also be asked to perform a variety of tasks that the patient is unable to, such as cleaning , meal preparation or keeping track of medication.
Depending on the level of care needed and training/familiarity with the patient, caregivers can help with more intimate, personal tasks like dressing, grooming or changing any dressings/bandages.
The role of a caregiver can go much beyond physical assistance. They can provide strong support and encouragement, which is essential as patients may feel overwhelmed or worn out.
Health.com even calls good caregivers “cancer painkillers” since their strong support and stability can go a long way in keeping a client’s spirits up. Caregivers also must make sure clients take their medications as needed, since some health conditions require a certain schedule to be the most effective. If this schedule is disrupted, such as a forgotten or delayed dose, could cause increased levels of pain.
Caregivers are also encouraged to accompany their clients on errands or medical visits if needed. Having an extra person along on a visit to the doctor can offer a good deal of support as an extra patient advocate. The caregiver, being familiar with the patient and his or her needs, also can use the opportunity to ask questions or make sure the client understands everything that’s discussed during the visit, since it could be easy to forget.
Caring for the caregivers
Though caregivers can help clients in reducing their pain levels, supporting them over a long period of time can become tiring. That’s why home health care and respite organizations are able to assist with a variety of services. Patients can access a variety of skilled experts who can help relieve pain in other ways, such as massage therapists, who can help soothe tired muscles, or physical therapists who can help improve abilities.
A caregiver can use the opportunity to take a break or even run errands while the therapist is occupied with the client.
Accredited Home Care also can offer the services of its own in-home caregivers who not only provide assistance to the patient as needed but allow the present caregiver a break. These services are available as needed.
It’s also important that the regular caregiver maintains their own health, such as eating proper food and getting proper amounts of sleep. If they’re not able to help well, or dealing with their own pain situations, it will be difficult to provide quality care to their client and “reduce burden and distress” if they’re having their own health conditions.
Bringing in the services of a home health agency can also be useful to all affected parties: the patient can receive a high level of care and a private caregiver may even receive some suggestions on how to manage their client and their pain more effectively.
For more suggestions on how caregivers can provide better care to seniors in the Long Beach area and reduce pain, visit Accredited Home Care.