Every day, many Americans find themselves in an unexpected new role. They become a family caregiver for a loved one suffering from chronic pain.
Experts estimate that chronic pain affects millions of Americans. Pain can interfere with daily activities, causing patients to lean heavily on family and friends.
Providing care for a loved one experiencing chronic pain presents challenges, such as making sure your loved one reports pain to his or her healthcare provider. Even with chronic diseases and conditions, pain should be taken seriously by doctors and physicians.
Suzanne Mintz, president and CEO of the National Family Caregivers Association, vouches for appropriate care because each person feels pain differently. Although it is a physical sensation, perceptions of pain are influenced by social, cultural and psychological factors. It can be difficult to make sure your loved one’s pain is evaluated appropriately.
However, there’s little information and few resources available to help family caregivers cope with these problems. The National Family Caregivers Association has teamed up with the pain management education program Partners Against Pain to create Caregiver Cornerstones, a program providing information, encouragement and tools to family members. The four Caregiver Cornerstones are:
1. Learning about pain management. Taking an active role in helping to manage a loved one’s pain may help you feel more useful and worry less.
2. Caring for a person with pain. This includes making sure that patients receive proper assessment and follow their treatment plans.
3. Caring for yourself. Being a family caregiver can be a demanding job. Allow others to help provide a support system.
4. Advocating for all people in pain. The Cornerstones program strives to raise awareness about the importance of access to effective pain care.