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Constructive Caregiving: 5 Tips for Helping a Loved One With Back Pain

Most of us can expect to take on a variety of roles through the course of our lives – from sibling, to friend, spouse, parent, colleague, and more – but it’s safe to say that one of the most challenging positions many of us will ever find ourselves in is that of caregiver. And when the person for whom we are caring is a loved one with chronic back pain, the challenge can be all that much greater. Not only is it heart-wrenching to see someone who is close to you experiencing debilitating pain, but helping that person carry out certain tasks can be physically overwhelming.

If your loved one is struggling with chronic back pain that is severe or that interferes with their daily life, Dr. Chetan Patel and the medical team at the Spine Health Institute may be able to help. Not sure whether a particular problem warrants a doctor’s visit? Here’s some good advice on that subject.

Meanwhile, whether you’re new to caregiving or a seasoned pro, below are a few important ways of helping someone you love to deal with their chronic back pain.

1. Listen

Living with pain can be an emotional roller-coaster. Patients often feel afraid that they might never be free of their pain, angry that their lives are filled with such discomfort, and depressed and hopeless that there is no relief in sight. Listening to someone talk about these feelings can go a long way in showing your support, and may help that person feel more comfortable asking you for assistance when they need it – because you understand what they have been going through.

2. Learn About the Condition

Educating yourself about your loved one’s condition can help you understand the best ways to emotionally and physically assist them. If appropriate, consider attending doctor’s visits with your loved one where you can learn about administering medications and helping with physical rehabilitation – plus ask any questions you may have.

Our Services section on this site has information about some of the common conditions that can cause back pain and may be a good place to start your journey.

3. Keep a Pain Management Log

It’s easy for patients to forget certain details and questions they wanted to bring up from one doctor’s visit to the next. Consider keeping a pain management log to help your loved one remember what triggered their back pain on certain days, how severe it was, how long it lasted and other specifics. This information can help a physician to diagnose a problem and determine whether a change is needed to the patient’s plan of care.

4. Encourage Activity

Movement can mitigate back pain, but unfortunately, back pain can make it tough to find the motivation to get up and go. Help your loved one follow their doctor’s orders by signing up together for a yoga or Tai Chi class, providing transportation to massage therapy or facilitating some other outing.

5. Take a Timeout Now and Then

For most of us, being a caregiver is only one of the multiple duties we are fulfilling on any given day, and the added stress of this situation can be truly exhausting. Understanding that many caregivers experience the same feelings of fear and frustration that their loved ones do, it’s important that you take time out for yourself to rest, recharge and roll back the potential for burnout!

Family caregivers are the unsung heroes of the healthcare workforce – and if you are one of them, you have plenty of company. In fact, nationwide, injured and elderly patients rely on family members to provide up to 75 percent of their at-home care. As former first lady Rosalynn Carter has put it, “There are only four kinds of people in this world: Those who have been caregivers; those who currently are caregivers; those who will be caregivers; [and] those who will need caregivers.” The upshot of this is that sound advice and genuine empathy for caregivers are easy to find in many communities and online support groups.

If your loved one struggles with back pain, our care coordinators can link you to the diagnostic expertise and conservative treatment options offered by the Spine Health Institute with a single phone call or click of your mouse. To request a consultation with Dr. Patel, click the “Book Now” button at the top of this page or contact us at 407.303.5452

 

 

References:

Caregiver Cornerstones (n.d.). Retrieved from PartnersAgainstPain.com: http://www.partnersagainstpain.com/pain-management/caregiver.aspx

Dealing With Pain: How to Help Your Loved One (n.d.). Retrieved from AARP.org: http://www.aarp.org/relationships/caregiving-resource-center/info-08-2010/elc_how_to_help_your_loved_one_with_pain.html