Our population is ageing. The average lifespan in the UK increases every day by 5 hours. Latest research suggests that today’s toddler boys are likely to live to over 90 whilst their female counterparts can expect to be over 93 years old when they die. By 2050, it is estimated that our nation will be home to nearly 19 million over 65s, representing 1 in 4 of the population. That’s almost twice the current level of 10 million.
Ageing is an issue for all of us. Whether it be tackling wrinkles to look younger, facing the challenges of having children in our thirties and forties or rethinking retirement or providing social care for an increasing number of dementia patients, the big question is – what can we do to address the collective challenges that come with living longer?
Whilst living longer can mean more opportunities and experiences, one of the downsides is the seemingly long list of degenerative health conditions to which we are told we may be prone as we get older. Thankfully, the health and treatment of an increasingly ageing population has been pushed firmly into the main arena of political and social debate, not least since recent exposures of failings in care. No matter how hard we try, we can’t halt the sands of time. But we can make sure that, as a society, we look after the needs of our population from cradle to grave rather than ignore the needs of people who are over a certain age.
With that in mind it is interesting to note that, historically, research on pain management in older people has been decidedly lacking. It is therefore welcome to hear of the launch from The British Pain Society and the British Geriatric Society of the first guidelines in this area. The guidelines are designed to raise awareness among health professionals about the different pain management strategies required for the elderly due to their multiple needs. A more holistic, tailored approach is encouraged, considering a range of options aside from medication, including psychological interventions, assistive devices and complimentary therapies.
One of the problems is that older people are less likely to tell anyone that they are in pain in the first place. In fact, as we have seen through the care home scandals and exposure of failings in the treatment of older people in the healthcare system, the older generation is generally more likely to just accept inadequate treatment.
At the bottom line, if treatment is inadequate, changes must be made and we must all work together to help bring those changes about. Whether it is in the form of encouraging new protocols to help ease pain more effectively, safer surgery or better nursing care, it is in all our interests to do our bit to make care of the elderly everyone’s concern.
Gadsby Wicks are medical negligence specialists. If you or a loved one have suffered because of a medical accident, hospital negligence or inadequate treatment, call us on freephone 0800 321 3112 and talk in confidence to one of our advisers. See our case studies for details of how we’ve helped others.
Posted 16th May 2013 | Posted in News,Uncategorised