Managing pain is a part of everyday life for many seniors, but it often does not get the attention it deserves, according to a recent study. Researchers from the University of Washington found that approximately 18.7 million older adults experience bothersome pain that interferes with their physical function, and experts say the public health realm should take action, according to findings published in the journal Pain.
The results were based on interviews with more than 7,600 adults who were 65 or older who lived in a variety of settings - from retirement communities to their own homes. In addition to analyzing their pain levels, researchers also assessed both cognitive and physical performance. Among the most significant findings was that seniors with pain tend to have a slower walking speed, weaker muscle strength and poorer overall function.
"Considering that pain is often poorly managed in the geriatric population, our findings underscore the need for public health action, including additional epidemiologic research and the development and translation of interventions aimed at improving pain and function in older adults," said Dr. Kushang Patel, the study's lead investigator.
While there are many medications available to seniors that can help them manage pain, there are also some natural remedies that can have a significant impact. One of the best options may be the most surprising - exercise. Though it may seem unusual to keep moving when pain can hamper mobility, Prevention Magazine states that simple exercises, such as walking, can help strengthen muscles and improve blood flow, which is particularly helpful for knee pain.
A senior's diet can also play a role in his or her pain levels, according to AARP. Red grapes, soy and cherries all have proven to possess pain-fighting capabilities.