We all experience physical pain at some point in our lives.   And we immediately try to get rid of it.   However pain has come to be accepted as a normal part of ageing, with many elderly greeting it with a ‘stiff upper lip’.

But it is increasingly clear that persistent pain can have a tremendously adverse effect on the elderly and on the health care system.
Pain in Older People is a landmark study undertaken in the UK by the University of Nottingham and funded by Help the Age and the British Pain Society.

The report aims to highlight the issue of pain in older people by exploring older people’s experiences of living and coping with persistent pain.  The goal is to raise awareness of pain in older people, challenge current beliefs and promote action.   Pain in older people is an increasingly important health issue and one that requires urgent action.

The report draws on interviews with older people and a comprehensive literature review and reveals that over five million Britons aged 65 and over experience some form of pain and discomfort.

A number of persistent themes emerged from the interviews, in which participants were asked to assess the physical and psychological impact of pain on their lives. Among the most common attitudes and response to pain were the ‘stiff upper lip’ approach, the fear of becoming a burden, a diminished capacity and a sense of isolation.

The report’s key recommendations included further training about pain in older people for all health professionals and the implementation of a standardized pain assessment tool for older people.  It also called for more research into pain assessment, the multidimensional nature of pain and the use of analgesics.

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