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How does chronic pain affect families?

Chronic pain rarely affects just one person. It’s like a stone dropping into a lake; there’s a ripple effect that’s felt by many people.

Family members can be a huge help to people suffering from chronic pain, giving them hope, support and reminding them that there’s still a lot of pleasure to be had from life. However, it can be bewildering and emotional to watch someone you love suffering or going through emotional turmoil. The frustration, anxiety and stress that often go with chronic pain can also afflict family members and friends who feel helpless to provide relief. 

Medications are another factor which can impact how we feel. There are many natural solutions now to help with chronic pain on a day-to-day basis. With on-going pain, you want to ease the affected area as effectively and quickly as possible. 

When you’re caring for someone in chronic pain, the added responsibility and worry can have a big impact emotionally. You’ve suddenly got less time to spend with your friends or doing things you used to enjoy, plus there are often financial ramifications adding to the pressure.

Dealing with chronic pain is a hard situation for the person suffering and their loved ones. We’ve put together a few tips to help guide you through the situation and make it through the tough times.

 

Know you’re in it together

It’s a good idea to recognise early on that chronic pain is not an individual problem. Let the person who’s suffering know that you’re in this together and that together, you will find a way forward. This makes the person feel supported and shows them they’re not alone.

 

Knowledge is power

Read, learn, ask for opinions and research as much as you can about the illness and pain management. Eliminating the pain may not be possible, but there often ways to reduce it. An effective management plan can make a real difference to the emotional well being of everyone involved.

 

Acknowledge your feelings and communicate

If you’re the carer for someone with chronic pain, you may feel guilty about not being able to relieve their distress or suffering. It’s really hard to see someone you love in pain. Try to be open and honest about your feelings. There’s nothing to be gained from bottling up your worries and stresses. Being open with each other allows for open communication – even if you’re both fed up or frustrated, being able to vocalise that will help your relationship and your mental health.

 

Help the patient stay involved

Chronic pain can rob people of their abilities and force them to be cared for by others – this can leave them to feel worthless and guilty over not contributing to the family. Try and find ways the person can still contribute and feel like an important and valued part of the family. Work together to give them tasks or responsibilities that suit their “new normal” so they feel useful and can contribute. This will also take the pressure off you and hopefully free up some of your time.

 

Take care of yourself

There are no medals for martyrs. Take all the help you can get and don’t be afraid to ask for more. Ask family, friends or your medical support team for help. You can’t pour from an empty cup, so take time for yourself regularly and make your mental and physical health a priority.

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