Chronic pain is a serious public health issue affecting millions of people around the world. In fact, research has shown that approximately 116 million people in the U.S. suffer from chronic pain. But chronic pain does not just affect these individuals; it also affects the people who care for them daily. Caring for people who suffer from chronic pain can be extremely challenging. Evidence suggests that chronic pain sufferers and their caregivers are at the highest risk levels of adverse well-being and psychological distress.
Watching a loved one suffer is difficult, especially when you do not know how to help them. However, there are lots of things that caregivers can do to help a chronic pain sufferer. Here are some of our top tips to help you:
1. Learn About Pain Management
With so many people around the world experiencing chronic pain, it is no huge surprise that the medical field of pain management is in high demand. This means that it’s often hard to find a healthcare professional or pain specialist when you really need one.
One way you can overcome this problem is to consider learning about pain management yourself. You could also consider completing one of these online accelerated BSN programs from Baylor University. Their courses will allow you to master the key elements of nursing practice and help you to plan and deliver nursing care for your loved ones at different stages of their lives.
It is often hard to understand what chronic pain feels like if you have never suffered from it in the past. This is why it’s so important to listen when the person you are caring for is talking to you and telling you how they feel. Do not brush off their condition by assuming that there is nothing wrong as they look okay.
You could also ask for permission to talk to the medical team who are looking after them. They will be able to give you an idea of what they are going through on a daily basis. They may also discuss possible treatment options, physio exercises, and medicines that could help.
3. Treat Them as a Human Being
Pain does not define a person. It is part of them, but it is not all they are. Caregivers need to try and treat these individuals not just as a person who is suffering from chronic pain, but also as a rounded human being. While it is okay to show them that you are worried about their pain or discomfort, you also need to show them that you are interested in other parts of their life, such as their family, their hobbies, or their job.
4. Look After Yourself
Caregivers are frequently called the unsung heroes of the healthcare world, and we can see why. Many of these individuals go above and beyond to care for someone they love, often meaning they forget to take care of themselves. However, if you want to provide your friend or relative with the best care possible, then the best piece of advice is to make sure you stay mentally and physically healthy yourself. Try to value your own contributions, attend your own health care appointments, and accept offers of help from others.
5. Keep a Diary
Another way to help a person who is suffering from chronic pain is to keep a pain diary on their behalf. You can take this diary with you to any medical appointments to show medical professionals just how much your loved one is suffering. The more information they have about the pain and the symptoms, the more likely they will be to help.
6. Be Patient
A lot of people who suffer from chronic pain are still able to move about and do lots of things for themselves. They may simply be a little more irritable or seem a little bit grumpier at times. This is because, although they can complete the tasks themselves, they are in pain while doing so.
However, it is important not to do these tasks for them. This is not what they want. They simply need to be given a little bit more time in order to complete each task. You also need to remember that just because an individual could do something one day, it does not mean that they can do it the next. The intensity of pain can vary greatly from one day to the next, so do not assume that they can do everything.
7. Do Not Promise Progression
Unfortunately, time is not always a healer. Some people will not improve over time, so promising progression could be discouraging for them. It is all too easy to say to a loved one that “it will get better in time” as encouragement, but if the condition does not improve, this can cause them to feel helpless instead.
8. Encourage Gentle Exercise
While some patients are not able to do any physical activity, many pain sufferers are advised to exercise to promote healing. However, most people who suffer from chronic pain fear physical activity because of the amount of pain it causes them.
Caregivers need to be present during hospital visits and ask questions about physical needs and limitations. They must understand which activities are appropriate and which ones should be avoided.
9. Share Your Life with Them
Although pain can be debilitating, this does not mean that pain sufferers do not want to hear about your day or your worries. In fact, in most cases, these individuals want to be able to support you in a similar way to the way you are supporting them. Just like any type of friendship or relationship, sharing what is going on in your daily life and talking to one another is an important part of maintaining the relationship. Not only that, but sometimes, it is a good distraction from the pain they are feeling.
10. Stand Up for Your Loved One
Although most doctors have their patients’ best interests at heart, they do not see them on a day-to-day basis. This means that it is extremely important that you go with your partner or friend to any doctor’s appointments they may have. You need to stand by them and make it clear just how much pain they are in.
Lots of us find it hard to know what to do when a friend or relative starts suffering from chronic pain. When you are caring for someone who has chronic pain, their ailment can take its toll on both of you. You both have to deal with the daily challenges that come with living with the emotional and physical burden of living with severe pain. However, there are lots of things you can do to support your loved ones, such as helping them manage their treatment and listening to them when they need to talk. All of these things will help a chronic pain sufferer get through the day.