Chronic Pain - It Runs In The Family
individual is affected with chronic pain, it really isnít just her health
concern. Chronic pain is now
part of the family. When a
person experiences unrelenting pain on a daily basis, the entire family is
likely to suffer.
The anxiety, stress and very often depression that accompanies the chronic pain affects family members as well who desperately want to offer assistance Ė but are instead helpless to do a thing! But the sense of helplessness is only the beginning. Very often the healthy members of the family are overworked due to the chronic pain of the individual. Now in addition to their own duties, they assume the household chores the
with pain can no longer perform. But
more than that they have even more additional duties:
usually revolving around helping the person in pain.
wonder that family members in general very often have little time or energy
for their friends, hobbies or interests.
Itís also not at all surprising that as expenses rise Ė as they
often do in these situations Ė the family income correspondingly shrinks.
when doctors treat the patient with chronic pain, other family members are
rarely considered. This, at
least, is the contention of Dennis C. Turk.
Heís a pain management researcher at the University of Washington
in Seattle. Yet, he explains,
in a study he conducted, ďwe found that family members were up to four
times more depressed than the patients.Ē
experts say that this doesnít necessarily have to be the case.
Thereís plenty that family and friends can do to improve this
important step is to recognize that chronic pain is not an isolated problem.
It may be that only one individual is feeling the direct pain, but
the entire family feels the residual effects.
need to learn as much about the condition affecting their loved one as
possible. While totally getting rid of the pain may be impossible, there are
always ways to help reduce it
that, family members themselves need to realize how theyíre affected by
this long-term situation.
need to acknowledge their feelings. And
there are plenty of feelings going through your mind right now.
Itís not good to pretend they donít exist or even that theyíre
inappropriate to have.
First, you may
feel guilty about your inability to relieve your loved oneís discomfort.
You may also be anxious about financial problems.
These are only a few of the emotions youíre going through.
surprised if you feel resentment toward the individual with pain. This is much more common than you would ever think.
Very often a spouse is not only burdened with more responsibilities,
the loss of a personal social life, but is also deprived of the sexual
intimacy the couple once enjoyed.
You also need
to help your loved one with chronic pain stay involved. Your loved one is
now being cared for by others, heís losing a very real aspect of his
independence. This very often
leads to feelings of worthlessness and even guilt.
He is keenly aware that heís not contributing to the familyís
itís very important that you encourage him to participate in family plans
and activities as much as possible. You
also need to encourage him to carry out as many of his household chores as
possible. True, he may not be
able to do what he used to around the house, but perhaps he can perform
other duties. Help him to
discover what he can do.
is the key. Dr. Turk explains
that family members to create an ďopen, two-way communicationĒ pathway.
Itís especially important that those caring for the individual with
chronic pain that they know in what ways specifically they can be of aid to
the person. Similarly, they
also need to know what might unintentionally hurt the individual.
to take good care of yourself. As the spouse, donít try to do it all
yourself. Older children can be
given chores. They can help
clean the house. They may also
be able to prepare some of the meals (even if they are only sandwiches some
neighbors and friends up on their offers of help.
This is no time to be stoic. If
someone offers to take your loved one to a medical appointment, accept.
It eases that burden on you and may even give you an hour of
unexpected quiet and relaxation.
But above all
donít neglect your own physical well being.
Eat regularly. Make sure
you get enough sleep. Get
regular exercise. You canít
take care of someone else if youíre ailing yourself.
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