September 30, 2019
Caring for a loved one with chronic pain has an enormous impact on both the person with chronic pain and the caretaker. When chronic pain strikes, family roles and dynamics are suddenly reversed. For example, a parent who is used to cooking or doing certain chores for the family may suddenly need someone else to take on these tasks. An ambitious employee might find that long workdays are now too difficult to continue.
When these changes happen, the confidence of the individual experiencing chronic pain often takes a major hit. Caretaking family members or friends, meanwhile, may feel mentally drained as they juggle multiple unfamiliar responsibilities. They might also feel scared and even resentful at times. This is a completely normal response to the emotions and life changes involved when caring for someone with chronic pain.
Caring for Yourself
In order to properly care for your loved one, you must first care for yourself. On airlines, flight attendants commonly remind passengers to cover their own faces with the oxygen masks before caring for their children in the event of an accident. This concept applies to all aspects of our lives. As a caretaker, it’s important to carve out time that is just for you.
Don’t feel guilty asking other friends or family to step into your new role for awhile, so that you can have time to care for yourself. Try taking a walk outside, journaling your fears and emotions, seeing a funny movie, or engaging in a favorite hobby. You’ll return to your loved one feeling refreshed and able to focus on their care, instead of feeling overwhelmed with your own stress.
Caring for Your Loved One Emotionally
As you care for your loved one with chronic pain, remember to be supportive, patient, understanding, and willing to listen. This is another reason why self-care is so important as a caregiver. It’s easy to feel resentful or force your loved one to do more than they are physically able as a result of your own frustrations. Be willing to listen to your loved one as they tell you their feelings and limits. Remember that they, too, are feeling scared and frustrated by chronic pain. They may also feel guilt and sadness as they watch you take on the roles that they can no longer take on.
Be open and honest in your communications, working together to come up with the best solutions for everyday life. It may be helpful to research their particular chronic pain condition for yourself, so that you can better understand what they are going through.
Caring for Your Loved One Physically
When your friend or family member attends medical appointments, help them arrive prepared with notes on how a treatment plan is or isn’t working. When a new symptom pops up, encourage them to write it down to discuss later with their Riverside Pain physician.
Whenever possible, encourage your loved one to engage in appropriate physical activity (like gentle walks or swimming) and hobbies. You might also help them find new roles and responsibilities that they can still do with chronic pain. This will help your loved one to feel more positive and hopeful about the future.
Caring for Your Loved One Financially
Financial challenges can sometimes be a problem when caring for someone with chronic pain. Work together to create a plan for income, a record of medical payments, and any important health insurance information, as well as a complete budget to help relieve some of the stress of money.
Riverside Pain Physicians: Helping Your Friends and Family with Chronic Pain
With four locations in Jacksonville, Riverside Pain Physicians is dedicated to helping people with chronic pain continue to live life to the fullest. Our team provides the highest level of pain management care. If your loved one has never visited our practice, encourage them to contact us today to learn how we can help manage chronic pain using the newest available treatment options.
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