Living with Chronic Pain
6 Tips for Caring for a Loved One With Chronic Pain
It is often difficult for individuals with chronic pain to remember what life was like before pain became a daily part of their lives. Chronic pain is unpredictable: the intensity and duration of symptoms fluctuate on a daily basis. Understandably, it often becomes a bit of a roller coaster. A loved one with chronic pain may not be able to do the things they once enjoyed, and this can lead to frustration, anger, and sadness.
When caring for a loved one with chronic pain, there are several things to keep in mind to ensure their best care possible without sacrificing your own health.
Actively listening to your loved one about their chronic pain helps initiate inner awareness and compassion about their daily struggles. It also shows that you care about their concerns.
- Provide mental support
Providing mental support can help individuals with chronic pain avoid feeling isolated, misunderstood or depressed. By empathizing, sharing a positive outlook, and engaging in social activities with them, isolation can be avoided.
- Offer physical support
Helping with physical activities like laundry, vacuuming, or grocery shopping can provide pain relief and give an individual time for physical and mental rehabilitation.
It is often difficult to understand what your loved one is experiencing. Although the majority of people have dealt with pain in some form, those living with chronic pain live with pain on a daily basis. To better understand chronic pain, try to remember a particularly bad headache or burning pain. Now think about what life would be like if that pain never stopped. Don’t question your loved one’s pain as if it was optional; rather, acknowledge that it exists and support them. Chronic pain conditions are often invisible to others. Validation communicates an understanding and acceptance of your loved one’s experiences — both of which are critical to building a trusting and supportive relationship.
- Don’t take it personally
It’s important to remember not to take anything personally. Just like everybody else, those living with chronic pain cannot always mask their frustration. On high pain days, they may say hurtful things that they don’t really mean. Be sure to take it in stride. Taking a breath and calming down before responding is recommended.
- Strive for balance
Caring for a loved one with a chronic health condition can be challenging at times. New skills and strengths will be developed, but frustration and stress also occur. A caretaker may quickly become a person's entire world. In order to avoid burnout and to maintain good mental health, be sure to maintain a life balance. Caregivers should take time for themselves to relax and reset.