New guidelines for recognising and assessing pain in older adults
New recommendations to help healthcare professionals recognise and assess levels of pain in older people have been published in the scientific journal Age and Ageing.
The British Geriatrics Society (BGS) says there is growing evidence to demonstrate that chronic pain is more prevalent among the older population and pain that interferes with everyday activities increases with age. Alleviating pain in the older population is therefore a priority.
The guidelines seek to address specific areas in which improvements can be made. Specific areas that were identified as presenting a particular challenge when managing older people’s pain included ‘stoicism’ which can result in the underreporting of pain, the perception that increasing pain is a natural part of ageing and 10 minute consultations in the UK general practice which often limits older adults from engaging in meaningful conversation about their pain. It was also noted that pain in nursing home residents often goes undetected.
Education and training of staff to recognise pain, and to act on their findings, is a key recommendation of the updated guidelines. It is advised that healthcare professionals be aware of the wide variety of pain measures available and a solid understanding of how and when to use them.
- The Age and Ageing paper ‘Pain Assessment in the Older Population – where are we now?’ can be viewed here: https://academic.oup.com/ageing/issue/47/suppl_1