Today’s tips come from Alanna Woody, a millennial caregiver who supports her grandparents, great-grandparents, and her mother. Alanna is part of the Caregiving Advice team. Get to know her and read her grandparents’ poignant love story here.
Chronic pain doesn’t stop at the body: it affects our minds, our emotions, and even our spiritual lives.
For my mother, living with chronic pain is a harsh reality from the moment she wakes up to the moment she goes to bed. It fluctuates throughout the day in terms of intensity.
Ever since a foot surgery two years ago, the simple act of walking became more and more difficult. Things seemed to have spiraled from there, as she found she was having trouble with balance, concentration, and movement.
Chronic pain doesn’t stop at the body: it affects our minds, our emotions, and even our spiritual lives.Alanna Woody
Because of this, my dad and I have stepped in to help ease some of her difficulties. While it’s easy to complain, get frustrated and short-tempered, I find it important to remember that helping my mom is a small sacrifice compared to the pain she feels day in and day out.
Here are a few tactics we’ve found to be helpful in either reducing mom’s pain — or taking her mind off current events.
- Prayer: My dad makes it a point to put prayer first and foremost. He always tells me, “We believe medicine can heal, but we look to God first.” If you are not the praying type, I find that meditation, long walks, morning coffee, and even hot showers have an element of the spiritual in them. It’s about taking the time to be quiet, mindful, and aware of everything within and around you.
- Going out to eat: While it may seem counterintuitive to take my mom out somewhere, it has always been a tradition in my family to go out to eat and really, truly enjoy it. She sits for the majority of the time, can eat a warm meal, and doesn’t have to worry about the clean-up after. For us, it’s a win-win.
- Encouraging exercise: Honestly, my mom is pretty good at this one already. She has a little schedule of when she’ll take time to walk and do some basic arm exercises. The encouragement comes when we push her to give it a try; momentum is momentum is momentum.
- CBD cream: CBD has done wonders for those who deal with pain and anxiety. Free of THC, CBD allows the user to simply feel the relieving effects (and not the psychoactive ones associated with getting high). It’s important to do research on reputable brands and websites, and make sure that companies are actually putting in the amount of CBD they advertise on their labels (and not an additive).
- Cute/funny videos: My mom has always had both a silly and soft side to her. I know she loves a good belly laugh, and she also loves cute things like babies and puppies. If I come across a video I think she’d like, I try to send it her way (especially over text when I’m not with her). Some of the best shows I’ve come across that make her laugh out loud are The Office, Nathan For You, and old episodes of Saturday Night Live.
- Coloring books: Distraction is key when dealing with chronic pain. My mom has an artistic side, so she’s filled up multiple pages of her coloring book with beautiful artwork and designs.
- Completing chores around the house: Now, this is one I struggle with. However, my mom’s love language seems to be “acts of service,” so when dishes are promptly clean, and clothes are hung, she feels more at ease. It’s simple — for her, a clear environment means a clear mind.
These are just a few of the ways I support my mom in her day-to-day living with chronic pain. But whether you’re caring for someone who experiences chronic pain or is living with another disease, disorder, illness, or injury, I’ve found what helps most: and that’s being in-tune with your loved ones’ likes, dislikes, and needs. When you are aware of what sparks joy for them, your caregiving is an act of love, not just an act of obligation.
YOUR TURN: If you live with chronic pain, what do you wish your family or friends would do for you? Tell us in the comments below.
Want to share your tips for managing a loved one’s chronic pain? Email us.