Coping with watching a loved one in pain - Care Community

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Coping with watching a loved one in pain



I wonder how others cope with seeing their loved one in pain? I am struggling with this as dad is in hospital but shouting out in pain and they do nothing although say he's had painkillers. He has pain when carers move him in hospital and when he's in the nursing home. I guess it is from when he fractured his hip last year and had to have an operation. He is more bedbound now too. I'm finding it terribly distressing and, as well as the physical strain, it's affecting my health which is already bad. Any advice would be welcome. Thank you


10 Replies

Ask for an appointment to see his consultant.

Ask how recently his pain area has been investigated. X rays, scans?

Ask for his pain management to be reviewed.

Don't be intimidated they are only doing a job but tell them if you do not have action you will make a formal complaint.

Good luck x

klr31 in reply to Lynd

The problem is I'm only surmising as I don't know and dad can't say where he's getting pain. It might be the situation he finds himself in causing him distress. At the Home he is ok at times and doesn't always need painkillers, I've been told. I know he must get stiff but needs to be moved to avoid pressure sores.


Lynd in reply to klr31

Well try to rule out the pain theory first.

If he is very upset all you can do is reassure him I guess. It's a tough one x


Hi Karen, I'd been wondering recently how it was all going with you and whether things had settled down with dad at all since your last message. Sadly it seems there's a new challenge for you. Somehow I think it's almost as painful for a person to have to watch someone else in pain as actually experiencing it, and you wish it could be you having to cope with it instead of them.

Have you had any discussion about the level of his analgesia and what combination of those might help him the best? I don't doubt he's being given something, as they are telling you, but is it the best thing for him, I wonder.

Also consider the possibility that it might not just be pain that is making him shout out. I had this with my mother and she was seen by several consultants in elderly medicine, but no-one could get to the foot of it at all. There was no reason in her case to even suspect it was pain which was causing it and she never complained of it.

But I do empathise with you. It's a horrible thing to have to contend with and I'm not surprised it's beginning to affect your own health too.

I think this boils down to asking lots of questions again, and in being a pest until you can get some of the answers as to what may be causing this.

i do hope you can manage to get him feeling more comfortable. Let us know how you get on. With very best wishes.

Hi Karen, I am so sorry your Dad is in so much pain that he shouts out. That must be very distressing and frustrating for you to witness this.

Has he had any physiotherapy after his surgery last year, and do they mobilise him frequently?

These are questions perhaps for the ward Sister that dad is staying in.

Watch your Dad's face and body language when they move him as this can give an indication if its pain or anxiety because he is scared to move?

Whatever it is please ask to speak with the Doctor and ward staff that are responsible for his care.

Good luck to you and your Dad. Please keep in touch with us and let us know how you are getting on.

MAS Nurse and Moderator.


Hi Karen, it’s truly difficult to watch a loved one in pain especially as your dad can’t really get across to others what is bothering him. That’s harder somehow.

As others have said, keep asking questions and make sure everything possible is being done for your dad. Pain killers aren’t always the answer.

Please take care of yourself too.

Love and hugs. Carole xxxxx

Thank you for all your replies. I think that sometimes dad is shouting out because he's in a room on his own due to MRSA and he doesn't like being on his own now. Yesterday though it seemed to me that he was in pain and he cries out when being moved. I've been told that he can be aggressive when being moved as well so assume it's due to pain. He had no physiotherapy after his hip operation and moved areas before Christmas. He's in a wheelchair now or bed and I think he must get stiff hence the pain but they need to move him. I do wonder if he should be on stronger painkillers but, last year when he was on an opioid, it caused him more confusion.


I've been in to see dad again today (despite our own health problems and the fact that the hospital is half an hour away from where we live) as so worried about him. He was more sleepy and less agitated but still saying "please" at times in a distressed way and then mumbling something I couldn't understand. He has been refusing food and drink so they have had to put him on a drip of sugared water as his blood sugars were low (he's a type 1 diabetic). I am wondering if he wants to die but can't. He sleeps but when he comes to slightly is grimacing and looking distressed even with his eyes closed. He has fought for life for so long but now I wonder if he no longer wants it but can't find a way out. Does this sound mad? He's on his second lot of intravenous antibiotics and seems worse than last Monday even, when he was on the first ones. He's coughing still at times too. The ward (Frailty/Old Age) doesn't seem as good as the respiratory ward he was on until Friday night. Unsure what to do now apart from try to speak to the doctor or consultant on the phone tomorrow as we can't go in for a third day.


Hi Karen

I am so sorry you are experiencing watching your dad in pain. I remember watching my husband in terrible pain. He didn't have any major breaks but, it sounds silly now, he broke and dislocated his little finger, he shouted when the doctor tried to re-align his finger. I was so angry with the doctor as Les was hurting. I just felt he had enough to deal with having PSP. I wanted to wrap him in cotton wool or bubble wrap to prevent injuries.

Have you asked a member of staff to see if there is anything that can be done to ease the pain your dad has? I know you will probably have already asked. It is heartbreaking to watch someone you love in pain. It makes us feel helpless.

I'm sorry I have no words to help you but I am sending a virtual hug and love to you.

Love and hugs

Pat xx

I have just spoken to a doctor at the hospital and it sounds like dad is not far off end of life care. I have asked for him to be made comfortable even if that means sedation. I just don't want him to suffer any more.


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