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How to Treat an Elderly Person for Pain

Elderly patients are under treated for pain a lot more often than are younger patients. A number of different studies have shown that 40% to 80% of the elderly residents in nursing homes needlessly suffer from pain because they are under treated. Under treatment of pain has been considered to be a form of nursing home abuse.

Exercise and medication may be used to help alleviate an elderly person’s pain.

How to Exercise the Pain Away

If possible, senior citizens who are afflicted with chronic pain should exercise. Studies have indicated that moderate resistance training and aerobic exercises that are done regularly can improve the well being of elderly patients who suffer from even chronic musculoskeletal pain.

However, the exercise program needs to be custom tailored to the elderly patient’s individual preferences and needs. And the exercise regimen needs to be supervised by an experienced professional who has been extensively trained to work with the elderly.

In addition to offering encouragement, an important part of the process involves the trainer continuously checking to ensure that any injuries aren’t aggravated.

Pain Medications

According to an AGS (American Geriatric Study), the most common way elderly patients are treated for pain is with either painkillers or analgesic drugs.

Analgesics include NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen and aspirin. Morphine and codeine, which may be used to relieve moderate to severe pain, are examples of opioid analgesics.

Sometimes acetaminophen is used in lieu of NSAIDs because of the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding that’s associated with the use of NSAIDs. Acetaminophen is primarily used for mild to moderate musculoskeletal pains.

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When medication is recommended a physician, on an ongoing basis, should review the dosages, medications, side effects, and effectiveness of the drugs that he or she prescribes. Even though elderly patients will probably experience more adverse reactions than younger patients, if analgesic drugs are closely monitored they could be safely taken by senior citizens.

Other Approaches to Pain Treatment

There are a number of other approaches to treating pain that have been successfully used. For example, a senior who attends a patient education program can learn about the nature of pain, how to use medications, how to use pain assessment instruments, and a variety of pain management strategies.

Other approaches to making elderly patients feel better include physical therapy, acupuncture, teaching them relaxation techniques, and biofeedback.

A search of the Internet using terms such as “pain management for elders” and “pain management for seniors” can give you additional insight into how to treat elderly pain.

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