Aging, Pain, and the Fight to Stay Healthy

As we grow older, many of us need to learn how to live with chronic pain.  

An estimated 60 to 75 percent of people over the age of 65 report having a problem with persistent pain and that rate is far higher for older people living in assisted care centres and nursing homes.    In the United States alone, there are more than 40 million people over the age of 65 and that number is expected to rise in the coming years as Baby Boomers grow older.   The majority of older Americans suffer from multiple conditions and the cost of treatment already accounts for more than two-thirds of the annual U.S. health budget.

The most common medical complains seen in older adults are osteoarthritis in the lower back and neck, musculoskeletal pain, chronic joint pain, and neuralgia linked to other conditions such as diabetes.   Not only does pain become more prevalent as people grow older, but women are generally more likely to report persistent pain than men.   While most older adults living with chronic pain tend to regard it as manageable for the most part, that can change as new medical conditions develop.

So how can we manage the pain problems that frequently arise as we grow older?   A new review article published in American Psychologist provides a comprehensive look at the numerous problems faced by older adults living persistent pain problems.    Written by Ivan R. Molton and Alexandra L. Terrill of the University of Washington Medical Center, the article identifies many of the barriers faced by older adults dealing with chronic pain and gives some directions for providing better care.

To read more, check out my new Psychology Today blog post.


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