The Power of Presence

The Power of Presence

When the pain meds have been given but they just dont seem to be working, the healing effect of these non-pharmaceutical pain relief measures, can do amazing things:

  • Touch:  Hold a hand, rub an arm, softly touch the space right over their ear (like a mama does with her little-one).  Get a cool or warm (depending on which feels better for them) damp washcloth and place it on their forehead, over their eyes slightly.  Gently massage their hands and/or feet with lotion or a calming essential oil like lavender.
  • Talk: Tell them youre there. Youre taking care of everything. Theres no need to worry about a thing.  Even if they dont respond, assume they can hear you.  Tell them you love them.  Tell them that you are ok and they can relax.
  • Air:  Get a fan going on low or open a window to get a little air circulating. The feeling of being in a closed-in, stuffy room seems to make pain hurt more.
  • Scent: Bring in something to make the room smell good.  Ive used essential oils, scented lotions and air fresheners.  There may be some not so nice smells going on in that room and masking them with more pleasant ones can go a long way.
  • Sound: Soft music (or loud if thats what they like) played in their room can be very soothing and give them something to focus on other than the pain. I often play the Pandora station, solo piano.  One patient wanted to hear Led Zeppelin and another, hymns.
  • Read:  Find a favorite book or the sports section of the paper or the Bible “ whatever calms them – and read from it. Go through a photo album with them and talk about the pictures and the memories they represent.
  • Sing:  I am no singer.  But I sing to my patients.  When I shared with one gentleman who had a Scottish accent, that my Nana used to sing us lullabies from their shared homeland, he convinced me to sing one for him.  As I finished, with tears flowing down his face he said, My mother sang that to me every night when I was a boy.  Youve brought me right back to those days. I thank you.  It doesnt have to be beautiful, just from the heart.

Whatever you do, when you do it with love, the effect is powerful.  Try it for yourself and let me know what happens.  -LL


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