Author(s): Gibson SJ
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Abstract This year represents the international year against pain in older persons and it is opportune, therefore, to reflect upon the current status and possible future directions in pain-management practice for this large and growing segment of the population. Epidemiologic studies show a very high prevalence of persistent pain, often exceeding 50\% of community-dwelling older persons and up to 80\% of nursing home residents. Recently, there has been a major push to develop age-appropriate pain assessment tools, including several observer-rated scales of behavioral pain indicators for use in those with dementia. There has also been the release of several comprehensive guidelines for the assessment and management of pain in older persons, although the current evidence-base used to guide clinical practice is extremely limited. Unfortunately, despite these advances, pain remains grossly under treated in older persons, regardless of the healthcare setting. With the demographic imperative of a rapidly aging society, much greater attention is now being devoted to the problem of geriatric pain, with new initiatives in healthcare planning, calls for better professional education in geriatrics and pain management as well as new directions and funding resources for research into this important problem. Of course, this increased awareness must still be translated into action, not just because better pain relief for older adults is an ethically desirable outcome, but out of the sheer necessity of dealing with the millions of older persons who will suffer from persistent and bothersome pain in the years to come.
This article was published in Expert Rev Neurother
and referenced in Journal of Gerontology & Geriatric Research