Living with chronic pain or living with a spouse that has chronic pain is a…
Take care of yourself, so you can take care of others.
A danger of caregiving, whether you're living with a spouse that has chronic pain or you're a child caring for a parent, is offering care at your own physical and emotional expense. You are no help to your family member if you are burned out. Below are tips for managing caregiver stress and fatigue.
HOW TO DO IT
Leave Guilt At The Door
You’re only human. You need a daily dose of YOU time. Choose your preferred activity to replenish your energy. Whether exercise, meditation, bubble baths, reading, participating in a chronic pain caregiver support group, or just watching your favorite show on TV, dedicate at least 15 minutes a day to yourself.
Take time to exercise or to yourself
Find time each day, even if it’s 15 minutes for yourself. Exercise, meditate, bubble bath, read this is your time.
Ask for help
Don’t hesitate to ask for help from family or friends. You can divvy tasks amongst other members of your family or friends. Find support groups for yourself and for your loved one.
Employer benefits might be there to help
Check with your employer, they may offer plans that help families caring for loved ones
Monitor your own well being disagreements
Compassion fatigue is real and is very common among caregivers whether they work as nurses or doctors or whether you are caring for a loved one at home. It’s common to become depressed from the stress and exhaustion from seeing your loved one in pain. Recognize your feelings and seek assistance or space when needed.
Isolation can be difficult. Make sure you cut out some social time for yourself
Figure out finances
Money might be an issue in the future. Talk to your loved one. Don’t let this creep on you. Talk to your doctor about it. There are also free and affordable solutions
Elist your family or friends to help out, make it a family affair. Ask them how they would like to support. Be realistic about the help you need and what you can do yourself.
Invest In Your Relationship With Your Doctor
Being able to communicate concerns you have about your loved one to the doctor and staff members is essential. But you also need to make sure that your participation does not erode your family member’s own relationship with the physician, instead supporting and augmenting it, a sometimes delicate balance. Here are ways you can develop a positive relationship with the physician and support your loved one’s relationship as well.
HOW TO DO IT
Learn about the conditions, the medications and their side effects, as sometimes you are the only one that can spot them.
Attend the doctor’s visits
Each visit is on average 30 minutes and is packed with lots of information that sometimes is hard to remember or understand. If you are there, you can help by taking notes and asking clarifying questions.
Ask your loved one what they want to talk about with their doctor and write them down. Add your own observations and concerns, but make sure you are on the same page before attending the visit.
Check with your employer, they may offer plans that help families caring for loved ones.
Discuss any disagreement you have with your loved one with the doctor in private. You are on your loved one’s team, and you do not want to create any unneeded tension.
We grow up seeking independence. We all take pride in our independence; from learning how to walk without holding someone’s hand to being financially independent. It is a basic human instinct. Your loved one probably values independence as much as you do. So talk about it, and talk about what they value in the present.
People living with chronic conditions experience depression, anxiety and/or a feeling of helplessness because they are no longer able to do things they used to do. They can also feel isolated, like no one quite understands what they are going through. And stress from chronic pain can stalk them as well. Here is how you can show up and support someone with chronic pain..
HOW TO DO IT
Listen & Empathize
You may feel like you need to solve everything when in fact what your loved one may want most is to express their emotions of sadness and loss. Encourage them to talk about how they are feeling, and any concerns or fears.
Plan a date, regularly
Living with a spouse that has chronic pain can be a challenge for anyone. Any activity you can do together can help your loved one feel less lonely and isolated. Plan a fun outing, a picnic, a shopping spree, a walk in the park or even read together. Any activity that can be done together can help your loved one feel less isolated and alone
Sometimes, just being together is enough. Meditate together. Practice deep breathing together. Run a bubble bath with candles and some calm music for them.
Exercise is therapeutic. It can lift the spirit, clear the mind and decrease pain. Ask your loved one to join you for a brisk walk, a swim or any physical activity they normally enjoy.
Ask for Help
If you see that your family member is experiencing depression, anxiety or even side effect from medications, please ask for help.
The range of physical challenges can be extensive: The person may have difficulty walking, trouble with household tasks like opening jars and turning door knobs, or even problems with dressing, shampooing and combing hair. And pain may make sleep hard to come by. But there are ways you can help ease physical restraints and discomforts.
HOW TO DO IT
Look into physical
A physical therapist will be able to build an exercise routine for you loved one that will focus on exercises that will make it easier for them to do the tasks that are most frustrating for them. They will focus on strengthening the muscles that support the joints and get the blood moving to maintain lubricated joints.
Look into occupational therapy too
An occupational therapist will assess what your family member can and can’t do, and address ways to help make difficult tasks easier. For instance, she may suggest small household changes like door latches instead of twist knobs that won’t stress the joints.
Hot & Cold helps!
– Heat works by stimulating blood circulation, which can reduce muscle spasms and relieve pain. Encourage your family member to take a warm shower each morning to relieve morning stiffness. Applying heating pads or patches to painful areas for 15 minutes at a time can help as well.
– Cold compresses reduce swelling by constricting blood vessels. While cold packs may be uncomfortable at first, they can numb deep pain
– There is no one size fits all, so experiment with them until you find what works.
Try a massage
– Massages can help with pain and stiffness and improve range of motion but can also reduce anxiety. So find a therapist that understands the condition and your needs.
-Try massaging your loved one yourself. Ask what feels good and support them. Always make sure you are not hurting them.
Sleep is not just important, it’s the way we heal
Pain robs sleep → fatigue increases pain → pain loop
Body heals while sleeping → no space doer that
Ways to help them with sleep can be as simple as an eye mask, ear plugs, a sound machine, deep breathing. Again you have to see what works for them.
Help them eat right
Some foods are anti-inflammatory while others might be triggers. A healthy weight also makes it easier manage joint pain. Explore the different nutritional approaches and find the one that works best for both of you. But remember that food can be fun, so enjoy it and it’s ok to have a treat every once in a while.
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