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Here’s How To Tell How Your Loved One With Pain Is Doing

March 2nd, 2007 · No Comments

Family Issues #7

This is a series of posts about family issues and your pain. You’re invited to copy these posts and discuss them with your loved ones.

How to tell how my loved one with pain is doing:

How is your loved one’s thinking?

  • Is she able to stay focused and remember things? Problems with memory and concentration may indicate depressed mood or medication side effects.
  • Does she know where she is, and what day it is? If not, this could be “disorientation.” It’s a serious symptom and should be discussed immediately with the patient’s physician.


  • Is he sleeping at night, and for the right number of hours? Sleeping too much or too little may indicate depression or anxiety, or medication side effects. Insomnia can also result from being in a lot of pain.


  • Has her appetite increased or decreased?
  • Has she gained or lost weight?

Significant changes in appetite or weight can be a sign of depression. Weight gain may also result from taking certain medications and/or a reduction in activity.


  • Does he appear depressed?
  • Does he look sad or seem “slowed down”?
  • Is he frequently grimacing, crying, groaning, or otherwise indicating extreme distress?
  • Does he appear anxious or irritable?


  • Has she maintained relationships with family and friends, or has she become withdrawn?
  • Has she kept up with those hobbies and activities that are possible, given her physical condition?
  • Has she continued to work if physically able?

Is your loved one overusing drugs or alcohol?

  • Has he increased his use of tobacco?
  • Is he drinking more alcohol?
  • Is he overusing prescription drugs?
  • Is he using street drugs of any kind, including marijuana, cocaine, or amphetamines (speed)?
  • Is he able to communicate, speaking clearly and audibly?
  • Does what he says make sense?
  • Physical signs can include appearing “out of it” or intoxicated.

Discuss any of your concerns with your loved one’s physician and therapist, so those treating your loved one understand his or her condition more fully.

What questions should family members ask the doctor?

You should go periodically with your family member to the doctor to know:

  • what the overall treatment plan is.
  • what medications are prescribed, in what dosages, and how often.
  • what each medication does, for example, relieves pain, combats depression, helps with sleep, etc.
  • what possible medication side effects are, and how you’ll know if your loved one is taking too much or too little medication.
  • what the appropriate level of activity is.

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