Seniors May Live Longer, but Face More Pain: Study

By , Category : Archives ,Diabetes Tips ,Headaches ,Pain

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According to a new government-sponsored report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, seniors are living longer, but they are facing more pain in their golden years.

 The report, which is put out once a year, takes a comprehensive look at the health of Americans. For the sake of this article, let’s focus on age expectancy and pain among seniors specifically. According to the report’s lead researcher, Amy Bernstein, “We chose to focus on pain in this report because it is rarely discussed as a condition in and of itself — it is mostly viewed as a byproduct of another condition.”

 “We also chose this topic because the associated costs of pain are posing a great burden on the health care system, and because there are great disparities among different population groups in terms of who suffers from pain,” she added.

 Pain, as you are well aware, can be burdensome and even debilitating, making life difficult for the sufferer. Plus, it can end up having financial repercussions as well, not just for the sufferer, but also for the nation’s health care system as well. So what are seniors facing as they grow older, in terms of pain? Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty — the statistics from the report:

  •   — One-fifth of individuals who are 65 years and older reported experiencing pain in the past month, which lasted for longer than 24 hours.
  •  — A staggering three-fifths of adults in the same age bracket reported that their pain lasted for a year or longer.
  •  — One-quarter of the adults that participated in the study reported experiencing low back pain in the past three months.
  •  — Headaches were also common: 15% of adults reported that they endured a migraine or a sever headache in the past three months. Note that younger adults (18 to 44) were three times more at risk of experiencing migraine or severe headache, as opposed to adults who are 65 and up.
  •  — Severe joint pain is also common among seniors, where it increased with age. Women reported experiencing this condition more than men, sitting at 10% and seven percent, respectively.
  •  — From 1988 to 1994 and 1999 to 2002, respectively, the rate of adults who took a narcotic drug to deal with their pain went from 3.2 percent to 4.2 percent.
  •  — When it comes to health care costs, the U.S. government dolled out an average $6,280 per person in 2004.
  •  — Looking at increased life expectancy (a tie-in to today’s above article on the disparity between the sexes), it reached a new high of 77.9 years in 2004, which is an improvement from 77.5 in 2003 and 75.4 in 1990. The gap between males and females has also narrowed to 5.2 years, where women are reaching, on average 80 years and men are almost at making it to 75.
  •  — Unfortunately, diabetes is a growing concern in the U.S., most notably for older adults. As it now stands, 23% of people who are over the age of 60 suffer from the condition.
  •  — In terms of assessing the state of heart disease, it’s still the biggest contributor to mortality rates in the U.S., but deaths from the condition have dropped by 16% from 2000 and 2004, which is a marked improvement.
  •  — Looking at cancer, there’s more good news: the rate of deaths due to the condition (collectively speaking) has also dropped — this time by a solid eight percent.

 If you are approaching your senior years or are already 60 years or older and experiencing pain, know that you don’t have to put up with it. It’s not supposed to be a normal part of the aging process and there are certainly many helpful steps you can take to curb pain. Speak to your doctor to learn about your options when it comes to managing this often ignored condition.


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Dr. Victor Marchione, MD

About the Author, Browse Victor's Articles

Victor Marchione, MD received his Bachelor of Science Degree in 1973 and his Medical Degree from the University of Messina in 1981. He has been licensed and practicing medicine in New York and New Jersey for over 20 years. Dr. Marchione is a respected leader in the field of smoking cessation and pulmonary medicine. He has been featured on ABC News and World Report, CBS Evening News and the NBC Today Show and is the editor of the popular The... Read Full Bio »