Nan Ma is specialist registrar in clinical Gerontology and Aza Abdulla is a consultant geriatrician and general physician at the Princess Royal University Hospital, Kings College NHS Foundation Trust. He is co-founder of the Special Interest Group on Pain in Older People in the British Geriatrics Society (BGS) and participated in producing the first National Guidelines on Management of Pain in Older People. He is also the immediate past president of the Geriatrics & Gerontology Section at the Royal Society of Medicine.
Pain in older people is under-reported and often poorly appreciated. For many, it is seen as part of normal ageing and has to be accepted. It is also a subjective feeling (different people have different pain thresholds) making it difficult for the clinician to quantify its impact in an individual patient. Consequently, it may be overlooked as an important factor that can affect older people’s wellbeing. In fact, chronic pain has a huge influence on quality of life (QoL) through its effects on the physical and mental state, which in turn adversely impacts on the older individual’s economic and social status (effects on carers, friends and family). Inadequately controlled pain perpetuates disability, anxiety, and depression all interfering with the overall QoL. It follows that effective management of pain is crucial in optimising welfare in the older person. Continue reading