To many people it will seem incredible that we should, at the beginning of the twenty first century still be talking about pain management in older people. In the 21st century, the medical and alternative therapies to relieving chronic pain are widely known and constantly developing. There is no reason for anyone to live needlessly with exhausting and debilitating pain. Chronic pain is one of the most common reasons people seek medical help and depending on the severity of their pain, sufferers are thought to use health services up to five times more often than the rest of the population. Chronic Pain is a particularly serious problem in later life and can cause tremendous suffering for patients. The effects of chronic pain can leave its sufferers depressed, withdrawn from social activities and isolated. These effects significantly impact quality of life and nowhere are they more apparent than amongst older people.


Public Attitudes to Pain (November 2010)

Our most recent report, ‘Public Attitudes to Pain’ (November 2010), was the largest survey of its kind conducted in the UK to date with 4,438 respondents. The survey found that around half of people surveyed will wait a couple of days before seeking medical advice about pain, that only a quarter of chronic pain sufferers had been referred to a pain specialist and that many patients did not feel able to approach their GP with concerns over side effects from medication. To download the full report click here.

As part of this campaign, we have been featured in the media, met with Department of Health officials, engaged with other pain charities, asked parliamentary questions and lobbied Governement to campaign for:

  • the establishment of a clear care pathway for pain services in the NHS
  • patients to have access to all the information they require to make informed and complete decisions about the care pathway
  • further education for healthcare professionals in pain services
  • the NICE guidelines on Medicines Adherence are followed by healthcare professionals

Pain in Older People - A Hidden Problem (March 2007)

Following our research into pain from the carer’s perspective we then widened our research in March 2007 to the pain suffered by Nursing and Care home residents. Pain in older people can reduce mobility together with the ability to cope independently and chronic pain caused by long term conditions is widespread amongst nursing home residents. Often the very reason for admission to a nursing home is a long term condition frequently accompanied by chronic pain.

Our report, Pain in Older People – A Hidden Problem focuses on residents’ individual experiences of chronic pain, and for the first time ever residents themselves were interviewed about the chronic pain with which they often needlessly live. With more than half a million older people living in care homes and an increasing population over 65 the management of chronic pain is a fundamental reflection of the way older people are treated. 

The report showed a vast majority of resident were not being talked to by healthcare professionals about how their pain could be treated and many said any discussions that did take place excluded the residents themselves. Whilst many residents expressed an interest in managing their pain themselves there was a lack of information about self-management of pain and in some cases alternative treatments were welcome but occasional. Overall the report showed that much more needs to be done to provide care and nursing home residents with the pain relief they are entitled to receive.  

To download the full report Pain in Older People – A Hidden Problem please click here.


Pain in older People - The Carer's Perspective (2006)

The Patients Association began our Pain in Older People project in 2006 with our first report Pain in Older People – The Carer’s Perspective. This report surveyed the carer’s of more than 3,000 chronic pain suffers aged 65 and over to discover how pain was assessed and managed in elderly patients.  

We found that not only did chronic pain drastically reduce quality of life for older patients but in many cases their pain levels were not being adequately managed by healthcare professionals. The report also showed that most carers felt not enough was being done to improve the management of their patient’s pain.  

To download the full report Pain in Older People – The Carer’s Perspective please click here.


Helpline: 0845 608 4455   Email:

The Patients Association, PO Box 935, Harrow, Middlesex HA1 3YJ

T: 020 8423 9111   F: 020 8423 9119   E:

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