How to Reduce Pain and Improve Sleep

Many older adults suffer from chronic pain because of medical conditions, such as arthritis. While chronic pain is unpleasant during the day, it can make the nights seem endless. Pain can result in your aging relative waking several times during the night. For family caregivers, that can mean getting up several times each night with the senior to ensure they don’t fall or to get them what they need. Of course, that also means that caregivers and the older adult may not be getting enough sleep. If chronic pain is affecting your older family member’s sleep, below are some things you can do to help ease their pain and improve their sleep.

Ensure Proper Body Alignment

Keeping the senior’s joints aligned and in a neutral position will minimize stress on painful joints. Of course, you should first pay attention to the older adult’s preferred sleeping position. If they sleep best on their side, then allow them to continue sleeping on their side unless a medical professional recommends something else. Use pillows to prop up joints and keep them neutral. For example, place a pillow between the knees to line up the hip joint. The pillow will also cushion knee joints and keep them from rubbing together. You can also use rolled up towels, which might be a good idea while you’re still trying to determine what works best. Wait to purchase pillows until you know how many are needed.

Try Gentle Massage

Some seniors find that their pain responds well to gentle massage. In one study, researchers found that people who had a 30-minute massage twice per week had less pain. As a result, they slept better at night.

Physical Activity

While exercise might seem like it will make joints more painful, the opposite is actually true. Regular exercise helps to strengthen the body and loosen stiff joints. However, seniors should avoid exercising within three hours of bedtime as it may make it difficult for them to fall asleep. In addition, choose forms of exercise that are easy on the joints, such as walking, yoga, or swimming.

Follow a Calming Sleep Routine

Having a routine for bedtime can help to calm the older adult’s nervous system, relax them, and signal the body that it is time to sleep. A few hours before bed, switch to activities that are restful, such as reading or listening to music. Then, complete preparation for bed in the same order each night. Also, the senior should go to bed at the same time each day and wake at the same time every morning.

If your aging relative wakes frequently during the night or has trouble getting to sleep because of pain, you may wish to use home care for the overnight hours. When a home care provider stays with the senior at night, family caregivers can get enough sleep to ensure they are fresh and ready for the next day. Home care providers can assist with following their bedtime routine and get comfortable before going to sleep.


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