Characteristics of Pain Experienced by Elderly Clients Living in the Community Housings

Wednesday, 9 July 2008
Kimberly Kim, PhD, RN , Nursing and Health Science, California State University, East Bay, Hayward, CA

Learning Objective 1: Describe characteristics of pain experienced by culturally diverse elderly clients living in the community housings in the East Bay area.

Learning Objective 2: Propose alternative pain management strategies for elderly clients living in the community housings.

Purpose: Chronic or acute pain can affect elderly clients' ability to perform activities of daily living. Therefore strategies on managing pain are crucial to their quality of life. Purposes of this presentation are to describe characteristics of pain experienced by culturally diverse elderly clients living in the community housings and propose alternative pain management strategies to assist clients alleviating pain and promoting quality of life.

Design and Method: Survey design collected data from 350 elderly clients in the community to describe their pain experience and identify characteristics and severity of pain using the Community Needs Assessment Guide developed by faculty at California State University, East Bay. Nursing students assigned to promote wellness of participants in six community housings collected data.

Results: Preliminary data indicate that over 70% of the participants experience chronic pain in different areas: Back, knees, shoulder, flank and neck pain. Reports reveal that 55% of the participants' pain affected their activities of daily living due to immobility, especially in the morning. Their pain was worsened by cold weather. Over 50% of participants report that they have been living with chronic pain for more than 5 years without treatment. Twenty percents of participants report that they are saddened or depressed by their pain. Their treatment options included ointments, medications, or herbal remedies, and none appeared to understand about the benefits of alternative pain management regimens. It was quite evident that the clients' current pain management strategies were insufficient and needed further exploration.

Implications: Alternative pain management strategies utilizing non-pharmacological methods to relieving pain, such as stretching exercises, yoga, heat/cold therapy and use of back/neck support products are carefully considered and catered for needs of the participants. These strategies need to be taught to clients as pain therapies that they can do in the comfort of their own home.