Pain Medication Management in Older Adults

Pain Medication Management in Older Adults

A major challenge faced by medical facilities and health workers around the country is the provision of pain medication to older individuals. A research, conducted by the University of Texas, focused on this aspect of the medicinal field.

The research was led by Robert Gatchel, who is a Professor of Psychology, having ample knowledge of clinical psychology. He said that the concept of pain may be underrated in patients of older age.

Heart Disease Pain ManagementHe further added that by the year 2030, almost 20% of Americans would be over the age of 65. With such a large number of adult patients, it is necessary to devise a competent strategy for dealing with medication for such patients. The problem arises from the fact that most of the patients of this age also have some kind of chronic disease. These can include:

  • Heart diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis

With these diseases, it becomes complicated to treat adult patients or prescribe them any medication. One of the review papers written by the researcher and his colleagues dealt with the effect of anti-inflammatory drugs and opioids on such patients. When given to elderly patients for relieving pain, these drugs seem to have slightly different effects.

  • They cause dizziness and nausea.
  • This can increase the risk of imbalance in elderly patients that can lead to them falling.
  • Elderly patients are also at a greater risk of falling prey to kidney disease and liver disease as a side effect to these drugs.
  • Thus, they need routine checkups.

In the review, the effect of using anti-depressants was also observed in such patients. It was observed that there were several problems associated with doing so and resultantly, the patients could not use the drugs consistently. The issues arise due to the presence of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in most patients of this age.

If due to any reason, medication intake is stopped, the person can suffer from suicidal thoughts or fluctuations in the mood and behavior.

Moreover, when such patient consumes hormonal drugs, it further worsens the depression situation. According to Gatchel, when medications are prescribed to such patients, there must be a pre-test for these special cases.

After they are prescribed medication of the sort, there must be a routine follow-up on the physical condition of the patients.

Other Types of Medications

Medications for such patients are available in many other forms such as:

  • Topical creams
  • Injections
  • Patches

The drawback of topical creams is that they only prove effective against pains near the surface of the skin and they do not have much effect on the pain that lies deep within the body. Same is the case with transdermal patches. The only solution left is injections, but that is also limited to emergency or crucial situations.

Gatchel said, in this regard, that when treating elderly patients, medical histories must be kept under consideration. Further research needs to be done in this field to find a medication that is not effective for the time being but is also safe for long-term usage and does not pose any threat to the physical health of the patients.

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