4 Ways to Age Gracefully with Chronic Pain
Every ache and pain seems to impact you more and more with each year that goes by. The stairs get more difficult to climb, the grocery store aisles get longer, and everything takes twice as long to do. Although aging gracefully with chronic pain seems like a monumental task, here are some tips to smooth out the road ahead of you.
_Aging gracefully can be done… _
_With Special Precautions _. Because of the possibility of injury and disability, falling down is one of the biggest hazards you want to avoid. As you get older, your eye sight starts to fail, your balance worsens, your reaction times are slower, and your muscles get weaker. Multiply all this with chronic pain and you will find that your risk of falling is much higher than your peers that experience no pain. However, you can modify these risks by being proactive. Take steps to improve your balance like starting an exercise program. Many physical therapy offices or health care facilities will offer classes specifically designed for the aging population in order to reduce the risk of falling. Other precautions you can take include removing tripping hazards, improving lighting and installing handrails or grab bars. By reducing your risk of falling, you can age more gracefully.
_With Fewer Medications _. As you get older, you may not need as much medications as you have in the past. Your body has changed, your injury has changed, and/or your activities have changed. These changes may have changed your need for medications. And as you age, you are also more likely to experience medication side effects. If you are dependent to opioid medications to treat chronic pain, work with your doctor to develop a slow tapering process. Stepping down gradually, you may find that you can live with less. By using fewer medications, you may also experience fewer side effects like constipation, drowsiness and dizziness. Aging is a far more graceful process without these types of side effects slowing you down.
_With Assistive Devices. _ When you live with chronic pain, you also experience a certain degree of disability too. You may be less able to carry, to clean, to walk and to move. Unfortunately, these types of disabilities tend to get worse as the years go by. But thanks to some clever devices, you can have some assistance. One of the best mobility aids is a four-wheeled walker with the built-in seat and basket. The freedom gained by using a walker is tremendous. Shopping suddenly gets easier. Walking suddenly causes less pain. Other types of devices can help in other areas of your life such a reacher-grabber tool that can extend your reach to pick things up. If you want some ideas about assistive devices that may help you, talk to a physical therapist or your doctor.
_Without Complaining. _ No one likes to be around someone who is complaining all the time. Griping about this and that robs you and the people around you of joy. Negative thoughts and attitudes erode relationships and connections. Even though you have much to complain about, capturing these thoughts and finding different thoughts of gratitude can help to introduce more love and grace into your life as you get older. Keeping a gratitude journal can help because as Oprah says, “I know for sure that appreciating whatever shows up for you in life changes your personal vibration. You radiate and generate more goodness for yourself when you’re aware of all you have and not focusing on your have-nots.”
Aging gracefully is not easy for anyone, especially people like you that experience pain. Given the right strategies, medications, tools, and attitudes you can live in a state of grace, love and acceptance.
Christina Lasich, M.D., wrote about chronic pain and osteoarthritis for HealthCentral. She is physiatrist in Grass Valley, California. She specializes in pain management and spine rehabilitation.