Pain is extremely common toward the end of your family member’s life, but you may not be able to tell that she’s in pain in some of the more traditional ways. Depending on her health conditions, she may not be able to express in words what is wrong or how she’s feeling. You may have to rely on other indications that your family member is in pain and needs assistance.
Her Body Language or Facial Expressions Are Different
When your family member is in pain, look closely at her body language. She might grab the blanket or the armrests on her chair. If she isn’t holding onto anything, she might clench her fists instead. Major muscle groups might become tense or seem to clench, too. Look for other signs, too, such as your family member crying even if she’s not making any noise along with the tears.
Her Breathing Is Different
Pain can also affect your family member’s breathing. She might suddenly have labored breathing as if she walked too quickly, even when she’s lying still. You might also find that you’re hearing her breathing clearly when you normally don’t hear it. She might find it difficult to control how deeply or how quickly she’s breathing as well.
She’s Making Vocalizations
Sometimes when someone is in pain and can’t tell you what hurts, vocalizations are the best that happens. Your family member might moan or groan. She might also make other sounds that don’t really fit into any category, but they may be the only way she can express what she’s feeling. The sounds might vary in intensity depending on the type of pain your family member is experiencing, too.
She’s Moving Restlessly
If your family member can’t get comfortable or can’t relieve her pain in other ways, she might move restlessly. She might change positions or start pacing, even if she’s not easily mobile. Helping your family member to move into a different position can sometimes help, but that’s not always enough. Sometimes your family member simply can’t get comfortable at all because the pain is just that severe.
Working closely with your family member’s elder care providers can help you to learn more about what it looks like when she’s experiencing a great deal of pain. They can show you how to help her to be more comfortable in accordance with the pain management plan that her medical team has established.