By Kaye Swain
Cramps in the feet and legs, especially at bedtime, are not
uncommon for many of us. I remember first experiencing extremely
painful ones when I was pregnant. Oh my gracious, they were awful!
Eventually, I ended that season of life and went through a good
ten or 20 years rarely experiencing them.
Now that I am flirting with senior citizen status, they're back
and almost as painful as before. My senior mom struggles with them
even more than I do, and it's more difficult for her to stop the
pain by standing up, because her range of motion is more
She's tried soap under her mattress. (Don't laugh.
Regardless of whether it was a placebo effect or one of those
wive's tales that really worked, it did help for quite a while.)
Then she was scheduled for surgery and I was concerned she would have
a nasty flare-up of cramps in the hospital and be unable to easily
change her position or stand up at all. We talked to her surgeon about
this, and he prescribed some medication in case they occurred.
When she was discharged, we again talked to the doctor and he sent
her home with a prescription to ease the pain if one attacked, along
with a muscle relaxant to help prevent them, as needed. She has rarely
taken it, but has so appreciated these medications when the occasional
cramp has reared its ugly head.
In retrospect, I wish we'd thought to ask her family doctor for
help much earlier. Knowing her though, I know she'd have
said, "Oh, I don't want to bother the doctor by
complaining." I've heard that from her in the past, as well
as from some of the other seniors I've worked with over the years.
It's not useless complaining, though, if there is something that
can be done for a problem.
No matter what it is, it's always wise to discuss any physical
changes in your senior parents or things that are causing discomfort
to them with their doctor. Granted, the doctor may explain that there
is nothing that can be done for that issue at this time. Still, even
that is useful information as they now have a more complete picture of
what's going on with your senior parent's physical health. And
that's always a big help as well.
Kaye Swain is a member of the Sandwich Generation dealing with the issues of caring for the elderly parents and relatives in her family while also babysitting grandchildren. She enjoys writing on those topics at SandwichINK, in order to provide other multigenerational caregivers with useful information, resources and encouragement.