Half of Older Americans Live in Pain

Half of Older Americans Live in Pain

Over half of older adults in the United States – nearly 19 million people – have bothersome pain that impairs their ability to walk and other basic physical activity, according to a new study published in the journal Pain.

bigstock-Portrait-Of-Worried-Senior-Cou-3550306“Pain is common in older adults and one of the major reasons why we start slowing down as we age,” said lead investigator Kushang V. Patel, PhD, of the Center for Pain Research in the Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine at the University of Washington.

Researchers analyzed data from the National Health and Aging Trends Study, which was designed to investigate multiple aspects of functioning in later life.

More than 7,600 people, aged 65 and older, were surveyed. All of the interviews were conducted in the homes of study participants living in community or residential care facilities, such as retirement or assisted-living communities.

The overall prevalence of bothersome pain in the study was 52.9%. Pain was more common in women and in older adults with obesity, musculoskeletal conditions, and symptoms of depression.  Nearly three out of four older adults with pain reported multiple sites of pain, such as the back, hips and knees.

Pain was strongly associated with decreased physical capacity, particularly for those with pain in multiple locations, who tended to have weaker muscle strength, slower walking speed, and poorer overall function.

For example, the inability to walk three blocks was 72% higher in older adults with pain than without pain.

Since disability in late life is a major predictor of medical and social service needs, many health care professionals believe that investigating risk factors for functional decline and identifying the high burden of pain in the older adult population is a major public health priority.

“Considering that pain is often poorly managed in the geriatric population, our findings underscore the need for public health action, including additional epidemiologic research and the development and translation of interventions aimed at improving pain and function in older adults,” said Patel.

Population aging is occurring in nearly every country in the world. Not only are the number and proportion of older adults increasing, but the older adult population itself is getting older because of gains in life expectancy.

Authored by: Richard Lenti

There is 1 comment for this article
  1. Toni Kresen at 8:45 am

    I do not fit within the “age category” within this article, yet, in actual years but my “body” says I do fit, I DO live with CONTINUAL MYRIAD pains throughout my body thus limiting my mobility and NOT being able to have any sort of “QUALITY OF LIFE”, whatsoever. Throughout the years, I have tried EVERYTHING marketable by the pharmaceutical companies and LEARNED opioids/narcotics are the ONLY pain medications that WORK for, at the very least, 75% of ny plethora of various types of pains. I took the prescribed opioid/narcotic on an “only as needed” basis and instead of raising the dosage, when that time came, my doctor would SWITCH to a different opioid/narcotic (and YES, they do differ) that would work, and then change the med again as needed (generally between hydrocodone and oxycodone) – this worked wonderfully. With the help of my former doctor, the narcotics/opioids NEVER caused addiction to where I needed higher and higher doses AND DID NOT make me want to “do” any street drugs. I was, therefore, ABLE to have “QUALITY OF LIFE”!!!

    Our “governments (local, county, state, federal) are declaring that pain medication (hydrocodone, oxycodone, i.e.) is “DANGEROUS”. Almost EVERY medication, even OTC’s are “dangerous” when not properly taken per directions!!!! I NOW cannot have the pain meds that DO work for me leaving me with only TWO options in the state I live in. LIVE IN CONSTANT PAIN or STAY PERPETUALLY DRUNK – and NEITHER are exaggerations!!!!!

    My view (opinion) is the government(s) haven’t figured out a way to test a driver for the amount of any of these pain medications on the spot, such as they can for alcohol but once they do you WILL find a “shift”, of sorts, as to the “dangers of narcotic/opioids” because more and more people will be “pulled over” for inane reasons just so the states can “up” the amount of fines they give out, in ANOTHER inane attempt to fill the state’s coffers. (This same premise goes for medical marijuana as well.)

    Another view (opinion) is that the federal government does not want to anger the drug cartels for it they do, the cartels will stop “giving bribes/money under the table/etc.” and still as of the year 2013, what they get from the cartels is much more lucrative than anything they would get from painkillers – and NO ONE in any government wants to tick-off a cartel and lose their “bonuses”.

    Question: When a cartel is “taken down” has the drug trade lessened? Answer: No!!!! That is because it’s just a set-up to “prove” we still need to have a “war on drugs” and to remove someone who had “gotten to big for their britches”. The “cartels” that get taken down, open back up under a different cartel leaders name and even, at times, in a different geographical area – with the help of the governments (ours and others), of course.

    BEING FORCED to live in continual myriad pains because of the GREED of our government(s) is beyond reprehensible. Getting rid of lobbyists would be a much needed step. Whistleblowers that ARE NOT punished, for informing the general public as to what our government is REALLY doing, is another step. Making alcohol illegal and “MEDICAL marijuana” legal throughout the USA would be another step. Cartels would be eliminated, “street drugs” would lower dramatically and THOSE OF US, NO MATTER THE AGE, WOULD NOT HAVE TO LIVE IN CONTINUAL PAIN and END UP HAVING THEIR ONLY social interaction be doctor appointments, for the most part.

    People on disability due to CONTINUAL PAIN, would once again be able to work, at least part-time, thereby contributing to society rather than being a “drain” on society.

    The elderly, as stated in the above article, would ALSO have QUALITY OF LIFE, especially since the QUANTITY OF LIFE has risen.

    Politics and greed as well as power and control are the causes for the elderly and those like me to (figuratively) waste away in our homes.