8 Ways Caregivers and Seniors Can Manage Back PainPosted on January 7, 2015 by ElderCare Resources in Blog, Caregiver Education, Caregiving, Pain Management
Back pain is a condition both caregivers and seniors tend to have in common. The physical nature of caregiving, including bending and lifting, can easily strain muscles in the back, neck, and shoulders. For seniors, a loss of flexibility in connective tissue makes it increasingly difficult to repair a stiff muscle. Fortunately, there are a number of options available to help relieve the pain; here are 8 ways caregivers and seniors can repair and improve a sore back.
Always bend your knees before lifting a person or heavy object, and use your legs to support the bulk of the weight; your legs are stronger and more resilient than your back. Make sure to keep the person or object close to your body so you don’t add additional strain to your back. For seniors, make sure any items they use on a regular basis, such as shoes or a toaster, are kept at chest level and not stored above or below their torso. Electric beds and shower seats are a great option to help both seniors and caregivers reduce back stress.
Daily stretching is one of the best ways to strengthen and repair your back; it makes muscles longer and looser, giving them a larger range of motion. There are dozens of books and online resources available with stretches for your shoulders, neck, and back, so you can choose the ones you are most comfortable with.
Don’t Stop Moving.
If you have seriously injured your back, your doctor may recommend a time period of inactivity. But for more moderate, chronic back pain, it’s important to keep moving; gentle movement stops your muscles from tightening or weakening, and improves your back over time.
Get Enough Sleep.
Sleeping for at least 7 hours every night is incredibly important for managing any type of pain; it gives your muscles and tendons time to relax and repair themselves. If your back hurts more after sleeping, consider investing in a new mattress. There is no specific type of mattress that is best for back pain, but it is important to choose one that is both comfortable and supportive.
Applying a heating pad is a great way to loosen and relax the muscles in your back. However, only apply the heat source for a maximum of twenty minutes at a time or you could risk hurting your skin.
Watch Your Posture.
Good posture is imperative for improving back pain; always keep your shoulders pushed back, neck long, and back straight. Make sure any chairs you sit in adequately support your back, and avoid stools and benches as much as possible. Arrange any screens, such as televisions or computer monitors, to ensure they sit at eye level; hunching downward or craning your neck upward are surefire ways to worsen your condition. The same applies to reading; always hold your book at eye level. For seniors with pain in their hands or wrists, invest in a bookstand and place it on a high table or raise it using other objects.
If your pain is not severe, then there are a number of exercises you can try to strengthen the muscles in your back, neck, and shoulders. Yoga is a low impact, all-ages option for improving resilience and flexibility, but always check with a health care professional before beginning a new type of exercise.
Talk to Your Doctor.
Always discuss your back pain with a health care professional. If they recommend medication, make sure they are aware of every other medication you are taking and any additional health issues. Here are four tips to help seniors manage their medication at home.
Have you struggled with back pain? How did you manage your condition? Share your experience with us in the comments section below.