When they're comfortable, you're comfortable.

Caring for a patient, spouse, or parent who has needs can be stressful. As a caregiver, you are well aware of this. The patient-caregiver relationship is a symbiotic one: when they are feeling pain and discomfort, that mood spills over and affects everyone. When they are comfortable and relatively pain-free, that mood can recharge and enliven people around them.

The best way to find out "where it hurts" is simply to come out and ask that blunt question. And keep in mind that "where it hurts" is not always targeted specifically to their ailment. For example, an epileptic may not appear to have anything visibly wrong after a seizure. After all, don't seizures happen in the brain? Yet epileptics knows very well the intense pain in their legs, arms, and neck from the physical strain associated with grand mal seizures.

"Where does it hurt? How can I help?" you ask. Don't be surprised if you don't receive a clear, concise answer. Folks who are experiencing pain and discomfort often cannot verbalize how they really feel. But the more important issue is that they usually do not know how to alleviate the pain.

Caregiver, you can help by researching the answers and then presenting these to your spouse or patient.

For instance, how could they know about a wonderful source of comfort called Medibeads? It is understandable that they may never have heard of these moist heat wraps that warm gently in the microwave; are 100% hygienic; can never get too hot; are simple to use; and are environmentally friendly.

If you know some features of this product--which is the next generation beyond electric heating pads--you can describe them to your spouse, parent, or patient, and ask if they would be willing to try it.

Bedding aids are another area where most people will be surprised to hear of the many different products now available. Are they aware of triangular knee rest pillows which allow them to elevate their legs "just so"? How about crescent-shaped pillows that gently cradle the neck or knee pillows designed specifically to separate uncomfortable knees?

Many folks with pain or discomfort simply feel that they are being too much of a burden to ask for special assistive products. Assuring them that most of these products are reasonably priced often isn't enough to do the trick. But if you convince them that assistive devices make your job easier, they may be agreeable to trying them out. Patients and spouses who experience pain are typically sensitive to the jobs that their caregivers must perform.

Communication and listening with an open heart as well as open ears is the best way to assure that comfort needs can be adequately met.