Few things in life are more discouraging than chronic pain. It saps your energy, and takes a heavy emotional toll. Over time, pain can become a vicious cycle with a life of its own – especially if steps are not taken to treat the cause of the pain – not just the symptoms themselves.
We perceive pain when our body releases chemicals that stimulate nerves to send pain messages to the brain. These messages are difficult – even dangerous – to ignore. Although seniors with chronic back problems should seek treatment that gets to the root cause, there are many ways to relieve pain in the meantime. Elderly persons who take advantage of a quality homecare system and homecare software, such as ClearCare, can ask their caregivers to help them incorporate the following recommendations into their daily routine.
- Massage therapy. Massage has long been used to treat chronic pain because it relaxes muscle tension and allows heart rate, blood pressure, and circulation to return to normal. Massage acts on the nervous system to counteract the stress response, which can relieve pain and restore normal movement throughout the body. Caregivers can set alerts for each therapy appointment in ClearCare’s homecare system and homecare software, ensuring their clients never miss a session.
- Exercise. Regular physical activities, such as walking, swimming, or yoga, are excellent ways to counteract the symptoms of back pain. According to the Mayo Clinic, elderly ones can become more flexible and experience reduced pain by toning and strengthening their muscles. Caregivers can set tasks in their homecare software to prompt patients to be physically active for 30 minutes every day.
- Acupuncture. Recent studies show encouraging results for seniors with low back pain who try the ancient practice of acupuncture. "Acupuncture-like treatments had a positive effect overall on people's chronic back pain," says study researcher Dan Cherkin, PhD, a senior investigator at Group Health Center for Health Studies in Seattle. While this type of treatment may not be for everyone, it is a safe procedure and may be worth a try.
- Heat and ice. Many back pain sufferers find relief from using heat or ice – or a combination of both. Caregivers can set tasks in their homecare software to try ice in the mornings, and apply a heating pad at night – or vice versa. Seniors may also enjoy adhesive heat packs, which can stay on for up to 8 hours.
- Stretch. Daily tasks set in ClearCare’s homecare system should include stretching – which shouldn’t be isolated to only the lower back. Overly tight muscles in the hips, thighs, and buttocks can cause the lower back to overcompensate, leading to muscle strain and spasms. One recommended stretch is to lie on your back, grab your left knee with both hand and pull it towards your chest. Hold the stretch for 15 seconds and then repeat with the other knee. Do a set of 10 stretches with each knee.
Caregivers can track which methods of treatment work best for each client in their web-based homecare software. This information will then also be available to family members and physicians who have access to ClearCare’s homecare system.
Chronic pain is not limited to seniors only; it affects people of all ages. Even relatively young family caregivers experience more than their share of backaches and headaches – not to mention intense emotional distress. ClearCare’s homecare software has been designed to ease the burden of care for such overworked family caregivers. Call ClearCare today to ask how an innovative homecare system might benefit your family.