Key Learning Points

• The elderly population is growing with up to 50 percent suffering chronic pain.

• The physiological reserve of an individual reduces with time and at the extreme of age, this limitation may become apparent as part of normal activity.

• Assessment is essential and requires adequate time as mental processing changes.

• Psychological, social, and environmental factors must be considered as part of pain management.

• Cognitive deficit is common at the extremes of age, but most patients can self-report their pain.

• Drugs can be used with good benefit at adequate dosing. Starting with a low dose and slowly titrating to effect minimizes side effects.

• Nondrug interventions are frequently beneficial.

• Pain management in the elderly provides both challenges and rewards. The process cannot be rushed and requires patience and perseverance.

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