With upwards of 100 million Americans are living with chronic pain, the odds are you may know someone who is suffering. You may not be able to provide a one-stop-shop solution to relieving the condition your loved one has, however, there are many things you can do to help make things easier for them and improve their quality of life. Here are a few ways to make a difference.
Help them adhere to doctor’s orders
Many people will start to stray from doctor’s orders once they start feeling a little better, or sometimes even when they are in pain. Help your loved one to stay on track and manage their pain with gentle reminders when it’s time for treatments such as
- Rehabilitation exercises
- Heat and/or ice
Offer to drive them to their appointments
Going to the doctor, even for a routine check-up, is not something many people look forward to. An upcoming appointment can be worrisome, painful, scary, or just throw a wrench into your daily routine. Being there for your loved one for this shows support. Some people won’t accept a ride, but offering is a kind gesture. If they want to go alone, calling or stopping by to see how they are doing afterward is a great way to be there for them.
Invite them to join you for some gentle physical activity
Exercise keeps the body strong and movement may help reduce pain. Everybody is different, so respecting any physical limitations is important. Low impact exercises are recommended for many people with chronic pain but always check with a doctor if you are unsure. Some popular low impact physical actives include:
- Tai Chi
Cook them a meal
Taking care of everyday needs can be difficult when you’re in pain. Preparing a healthy meal for someone who’s is hurting will not only help someone avoid the discomfort of cooking, it will show your loved one that you are supportive and have their health in mind.
Tip: Roasting a whole chicken or cooking a big batch of stew can provide tasty leftovers for days with no additional effort needed.
Be open and empathetic
Living with chronic pain can make people feel misunderstood or isolated. You may not be able to truly understand what they are going through, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be a shoulder to lean on. Sometimes just providing an open ear and open mind is what someone in pain needs the most.
Help with everyday tasks
Learn what activities cause him or her to hurt and step in to help out. If your loved one is reluctant to accept help, try being present when the situation task arrises so you can jump in, no questions asked.
Some tasks that may be difficult for someone with chronic pain may be:
- Grocery shopping
Help re-organize the house
Find out what home activities are difficult or painful for them and come up with a solution. This might include:
- Making everyday items easily accessible. Moving things that are on high shelves or that require stooping or bending to reach to be easily reachable.
- Eliminating stairs. If their bedroom is upstairs, consider moving them to the main floor.
- Rearrange items for posture. This might mean moving a TV or computer screen to eye level or ensuring that a desk is the right height.
- Make sure furniture is ergonomic and comfortable. This might mean getting lumbar support for their favorite chair or finally replacing that old couch.
Learn about their condition
Understanding his or her condition will equip you to help alleviate their symptoms. By knowing what causes the pain, you can help to provide options and encourage choices that may provide relief.
Asking your loved one for feedback on your activities and efforts can help you understand what’s appreciated and what’s just not working. A simple “How are you feeling now?” after a walk can help you determine where to focus your efforts moving forward.