Pain management is a critical element of home health care for many at-home patients and their caregivers. It’s estimated that over 50 million Americans are caring for patients at home, the majority of them elderly. Pain management can be especially challenging for seniors because often there are multiple medical conditions involved, each requiring their own treatments. As a result, non-professional caregivers can end up responsible for managing multiple medications, often with little or no understanding of potential adverse effects.
Elderly patients can also face additional pain management challenges because of musculoskeletal degeneration that comes with aging and can be a significant source of pain. Caring for patients over 65 with degenerative back problems can require a specially-formulated plan for pain management to minimize pain and discomfort and improve their overall quality of life.
Options for pain management
At-home patients with chronic pain have a number of pain management treatment options depending upon several factors, including age, illness, and overall health and condition. They can range from over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs to holistic, mind-and-body techniques such as acupuncture, meditation, and yoga.
Advances in medical technology have made treatments such as patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) another effective method of pain management in specific situations. PCA works by pushing a button on a computerized pump, enabling the patient to administer a premeasured dose of pain medication through a small intravenous (inserted into a vein) or subcutaneous (inserted under the skin) tube.
Talking about pain
All pain management begins with learning how to talk about pain. There are many types, and it’s important for patients to be able to use specific terms to accurately describe their pain to healthcare providers. Common words used to describe pain include: sharp, dull, aching, pounding, shooting, burning, deep, on-and-off, and constant. In addition to the type of pain, it’s also helpful to note when the pain occurs — is there a particular time of day or bodily position that is painful? An accurate understanding of the pain leads to more effective pain management.
Because pain management often involves drugs that can have both intended and unintended effects, it’s important for everyone involved in patient care – loved ones, home healthcare providers, and physicians – to collaborate and actively communicate all concerns and conditions regarding the patient and carefully monitor the patient’s response to pain and treatment.
At Metropolitan Home Health Services, Inc., we specialize in providing a wide range of home health services, including pain management, to support patients and the at-home and professional care providers who care for them.