Pain: Assessment of pain in older people

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Pain is so universal that its recognition should be an essential skill of all those working with older people. It places a blight on daily life, limiting functional ability and impairing the quality of life. The symptom manifests itself in many ways, not only as a sensory experience but also by causing psychological distress.

It may be difficult for some older people to articulate their pain, for example those with dementia, some forms of stroke or Parkinson's disease. The non-verbal manifestations of pain must be recognised and interpreted so that the distress caused to these most vulnerable members of society can be alleviated, and this guideline provides tools to
assess pain in these groups.

The guideline will be of use to all healthcare professionals working with older people, including those in primary care, in hospital, in the community and in care home settings. It aims to provide simple and pragmatic advice for recognising and assessing pain.