Pain & Palliative Care

  • Pain

    Often people think pain is just part of the natural process of aging, but almost always there is an underlying problem behind pain complaints and they should be taken seriously. People over the age of 65 often experience chronic pain from problems like arthritis, poor circulation, shingles, bowel diseases or cancer. The symptom of pain can lead to problems like decreased mobility, anxiety, depression, increased risk for falls, poor concentration and difficulties in relationships. Learning as much as possible about ways to manage pain, when to speak to your doctor about pain management, alternatives to medication, and when to seek immediate help when having pain is important for self management and being an advocate for yourself or loved one.

    The web links provided below might be helpful to provide information on:
    • Managing chronic pain
    • Understanding how pain can disrupt quality of life issues such as sleep, mental health and relationships
    • Helping to discuss pain with your doctor
    • Knowing how clinicians assess pain
    • Identifying the types of medications used to treat pain
    • Finding non-medication methods to manage pain
    • Knowing when to seek immediate help

    Pain Medication Safety Issues and Risks

    Some things to be aware of when taking pain medications:
    • Older patients handle pain medication differently than younger patients
    • How pain medication is administered to older adults can be a challenge
    • There are risks of side effects from all drugs, including over- the-counter analgesics
    • It is important to talk to your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medications
    • Precautions must be taken to ensure that all medicines are out of reach of children and that they are disposed of properly

  • Palliative Care

    What Is It?
    Palliative care is a medical specialty focused on meeting the unique needs of patients who suffer from serious, chronic, life-threatening illnesses. Palliative care specialists provide expert treatment of symptom management such as pain, discomfort and stress that can occur with a serious illness. A palliative care team consists of a doctor, nurse and social work specializing in palliative care. Teams may also include massage therapists, pharmacists, chaplains and nutritionists. The palliative care team works with a patient’s physician and provides care along with whatever treatment the patient is already receiving (for instance, chemotherapy). Palliative care specialists are on call to answer any questions and concerns of patients and their families about treatment options, medical decisions and care.

    What Is Important?
    • Many patients need palliative care – As older adults live longer, many more people are living with serious and chronic illnesses and need relief from pain and symptoms to help maintain their quality of life. These illnesses can be complex and patients need help coordinating their care.
    • Palliative care works – Palliative care helps patients get the best possible care when suffering from severe illness. It is most effective in relieving pain and distressing symptoms, increasing patient and family satisfaction with their care and creating smooth transitions between hospitals and other healthcare settings.

    How Does Palliative Care Help Patients and Their Families?
    • It makes patients feel better throughout illness by:
    – Vigorously treating pain and symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, depression and anxiety
    – Keeping patients as comfortable, active and independent as possible
    – Benefitting patients at all stages of illness, while simultaneously receiving treatment or any other medical care
    • It helps patients and families to navigate the medical system by:
    – Assisting patients and families in making decisions about care and treatments, and then following through and ensuring that care is received
    – Providing answers, assistance and emotional support to patients and families making difficult medical decisions
    – Identifying services to support patients after leaving the hospital


Pain Links:
Palliative Care Links:

Note: The NICHE for Patient+Family Encyclopedia provides links to third party web sites, however, NICHE does not recommend and or endorse any products or any of the content on any third party websites.