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Senior Health Tip #7:  Pillow Talk

Not just for sleeping, the right pillow makes sitting and reclining more comfortable. Using the wrong pillow can create pain; not using a head support, or travel, pillow during long flights or while on a car trip can cause pain, too. In fact, if you still think of pillows as just for sleeping, you’re not getting the benefits that using a support pillow can have, especially as you age. Depending on where you need the support, typically the neck or back, a pillow that supports the spine in the right places can actually relieve pain. And when you’re working through an injury or a painful condition, the right pillow can make sitting or lying down more tolerable. A cervical pillow in a roll shape fits snugly behind your neck and helps maintain the right alignment with the rest of your spine. A pillow that provides lower back support is especially helpful when you have low back or sciatica pain that runs from your hip down the length of a leg; often called a lumbar support pillow, it puts the support behind your back and the seat you’re in, whether that’s a chair, in a car or even in bed. When the discomfort is at the very bottom of your spine—your tailbone, a coccyx pillow can make sitting less painful. For long stretches in bed when you don’t want to be flat, a bed wedge can make all the difference—helping you breath easier when you’re sleeping and helping you sit up better when you’re awake. Keep in mind that, whichever pillow shape you need, the fill material is important because you want a certain firmness, not the cushiness of a feather pillow.

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