According to the CDC, fibromyalgia affects an estimated four million Americans. Although it can strike both men and women at any age, it is most prevalent among women. Described as a chronic pain disorder, fibromyalgia is hard to live with even if you are young and otherwise in good health. For seniors, living with fibromyalgia is a constant struggle and can even be debilitating. This also makes the job of care givers so much tougher. Fortunately, there are steps to you can take to increase the comfort and make life easier for seniors with fibromyalgia.
Home Care Tips for Seniors with Fibromyalgia
There are various treatment options for fibromyalgia in seniors, including pain medications and antidepressants. However, the viability of some of these treatments is reduced when dealing with an aged population because of the increased risk of side effects. This makes nonmedical treatments or lifestyle interventions all the more important. Here’s how you can improve the quality of care.
Set Reminders: Aside from the fact that fibromyalgia increases the risk of depression, aging is also associated with memory loss. This makes it important for you to keep track of medication, meals, and other requirements that should be part of a daily schedule.
Encourage Activity: It may seem cruel to make someone move when they’re battling pain and just want to curl up in bed, but this is something you have to do. Be gentle and understanding, but coax and motivate your senior parent or patient to move. Exercise doesn’t have to involve anything vigorous, but can include mild activities like walking, gardening, and so on. The lack of physical activity has been linked to worsening symptoms and exercise will also help preserve muscle strength.
Meal Planning: In addition to enforcing disciplined meal times, you need to make sure that seniors receive balanced nutrition that will improve their condition. Focus on whole foods and anti-inflammatory ingredients, while limiting processed foods, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol as far as possible.
Sleep Schedule: Sleep requirements and quality decline with age, but that doesn’t make sleep any less important for seniors. It’s even more valuable for seniors with fibromyalgia as studies have shown sleep deprivation or poor sleep quality to exacerbate symptoms. Following sleep rituals and a strict sleep timetable will help cultivate healthier sleep habits in seniors.
Relive Anxiety: Stress and anxiety reduction techniques can help to lower the risk of depression, while also helping with pain management. Practices like meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation are known to alleviate both mental stress and physical pain.
Seek Help: Caring for someone with fibromyalgia is an immense responsibility and it’s not easy. If you’re juggling work and home care it can all get overwhelming. The best thing you could do would be to reach out to support groups and look for professional part-time or full-time home care providers to lighten the load.
The best thing you can do would be to speak to doctors to find out how you can best implement these steps in accordance with their treatment guidelines.